Date:

Church discovered in Sudan could be medieval cathedral

Archaeologists conducting excavations in Old Dongola (Sudan), have discovered the remains of a large church from medieval Nubia, that could have been a cathedral and seat of an archbishop.

Dongola was the capital of Makuria, one of the three Christian Nubian kingdoms and the departure point for caravans west to Darfur and Kordofan. Old Dongola was founded in the fifth century AD as a fortress, but with the arrival of Christianity in the 6th century the site developed into a major urban centre, reaching its heyday between the ninth and eleventh century.

The site has been excavated since 2018 by the Dongola expedition in collaboration with the Polish Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology of the University of Warsaw (PCMA UW).

In 2021 the research team uncovered the church’s apse decorated with paintings depicting two rows of monumental figures, along with an adjacent wall and the nearby dome of a large tomb. The apse stands in the very middle of the citadel that was the heart of the entire kingdom in the Makurian period.

- Advertisement -
3D visualisation of the church complex Image Credit : PCMA UW / Agnieszka Wujec

Measurements of the apse indicate that the church ruins are the largest so far discovered in Nubia, and when compared to the medieval city of Faras in Lower Nubia, there are many architectural similarities, such as the positioning of a cathedral in the city centre, and to the east the domed tomb of Joannes, bishop of Faras.

Like Faras, the researchers assume that the church at the centre of Old Dongola served as the cathedral, and not a church structure outside the city walls previously interpreted as the cathedral site.

Assist. Prof. Artur Obłuski, the head of the Dongola expedition Said: “Until now, another church located outside the citadel was considered to be Dongola’s cathedral, a building whose features would influence the religious architecture of Nubia over the centuries. If we are right, it was a completely different building that set the trend.”

A sounding of the apse suggest that it is buried in approximately 9 metres of material. Obłuski added: “This means that the eastern part of the building is preserved to the impressive height of a modern three-storey block of flats. And this means there may be more paintings and inscriptions under our feet, just like in Faras.”

PAP

Header Image Credit : PCMA UW / Mateusz Reklajtis

- Advertisement -

Mobile Application

spot_img

Related Articles

Geophysical study finds evidence of “labyrinth” buried beneath Mitla

A geophysical study has found underground structures and tunnels beneath Mitla – The Zapotec “Place of the Dead”

Discovery of a Romanesque religious structure rewrites history of Frauenchiemsee

Archaeologists from the Bavarian State Office for Monument Preservation have announced the discovery of a Romanesque religious structure on the island of Frauenchiemsee, the second largest of the three islands in Chiemsee, Germany.

Ring discovery suggests a previously unknown princely family in Southwest Jutland

A ring discovered in Southwest Jutland, Denmark, suggests a previously unknown princely family who had strong connections with the rulers of France.

Submerged evidence of rice cultivation and slavery found in North Carolina

Researchers from the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW) are using side-scan sonar and positioning systems to find evidence of rice cultivation and slavery beneath the depths of North Carolina’s lower Cape Fear and Brunswick rivers.

Study reveals oldest and longest example of Vasconic script

A new study of the 2100-year-old Hand of Irulegi has revealed the oldest and longest example of Vasconic script.

Archaeologists excavate the marginalised community of Vaakunakylä

Archaeologists have excavated the marginalised community of Vaakunakylä, a former Nazi barracks occupied by homeless Finns following the end of WW2.

Archaeologists find 4,000-year-old cobra-shaped ceramic handle

A team of archaeologists from National Tsing Hua University in Taiwan have uncovered a 4,000-year-old cobra-shaped ceramic handle in the Guanyin District of Taoyuan City.

Traces of Khan al-Tujjar caravanserais found at foot of Mount Tabor

During excavations near Beit Keshet in Lower Galilee, Israel, archaeologists from the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) have uncovered traces of a market within the historic Khan al-Tujjar caravanserais.