Date:

Archaeologists excavate ancient churches from African Kingdom

Archaeologists have found two ancient churches during excavations at the port of Adulis, located in present-day Eritrea.

The churches date from the 6th and 7th century AD, when Northeast Africa and South Arabia during Classical antiquity to the Middle Ages, was ruled over by the Kingdom of Aksum.

- Advertisement -

The Aksumite Kingdom emerged during the mid-1st century AD in the former territories of the fallen D’mt Kingdom. The kingdom played an important role in the transcontinental trade route between Rome and India from an early stage, rising to become one of the foremost empires of late antiquity.

Archaeologists excavating at the port of Adulis have uncovered two churches constructed after the kingdom’s conversion to Christianity around the 4th century AD. One of the churches is an elaborate cathedral, complete with the remains of a baptistry, while the second was smaller in size, but featured a ring of columns that supported a dome roof.

2 Excavation of the cathedral in Adulis 2
Excavation of the cathedral – Image Credit : Antiquity

The churches have elements from many traditions, reflecting the diverse influences on the kingdom’s conversion. The domed church is unique in the Aksumite Kingdom and appears to be inspired by Byzantine architecture. Meanwhile, the cathedral is built on a large platform in the Aksumite tradition.

The researchers have applied modern scientific methods to materials recovered from both sites, such as radiocarbon dating to accurately date the structures. “This study provides one of the first examples of Aksumite churches excavated with modern methods and chronological data coming from modern dating methods,” said Dr Castiglia.

- Advertisement -

In a study published in the journal Antiquity, the researchers have determined that the cathedral was first constructed between AD 400-535, while the domed church was built between AD 480-625. Both structures are some of the earliest Christian churches from the Aksumite Kingdom, and the oldest known outside the capital’s heartlands.

4 Room at the eastern entrance of the church 2
Image Credit : Antiquity

The churches went into a period of decline and disuse with the arrival of Islam, however, they were later re-appropriated as a Muslim burial ground, indicating that the region’s conversion to Islam was also a multicultural phenomenon, with local customs mixed with the new religion.

“This is one of the first times we have the material evidence of re-appropriation of a Christian sacred space by the Islamic community,” said Dr Castiglia.

Together, these buildings show the religious history of the Horn of Africa was cosmopolitan, with diverse groups influencing the spread of beliefs.


Antiquity

https://doi.org/10.15184/aqy.2022.136

 

- Advertisement -
spot_img
Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan is multi-award-winning journalist and the Managing Editor at HeritageDaily. His background is in archaeology and computer science, having written over 7,500 articles across several online publications. Mark is a member of the Association of British Science Writers (ABSW), the World Federation of Science Journalists, and in 2023 was the recipient of the British Citizen Award for Education, the BCA Medal of Honour, and the UK Prime Minister's Points of Light Award.
spot_img

Mobile Application

spot_img

Related Articles

Archaeologists uncover 4,200-year-old “zombie grave”

Archaeologists from the State Office for Monument Preservation and Archaeology Saxony-Anhalt have uncovered a "zombie grave" during excavations near Oppin, Germany.

Archaeologists uncover 2,000-year-old clay token used by pilgrims

A clay token unearthed by the Temple Mount Sifting Project, is believed to have served pilgrims exchanging offerings during the Passover festival 2,000-years-ago.

Moon may have influenced Stonehenge construction

A study by a team of archaeoastronomers are investigating the possible connection of the moon in influencing the Stonehenge builders.

Archaeologists explore the resettlement history of the Iron-Age metropolis of Tel Hazor

Archaeologists are conducting a study of the Iron-Age metropolis of Tel Hazor to understand how one of the largest “megacities” of the Bronze Age was abandoned and then resettled.

Excavation uncovers possible traces of Villa Augustus at Somma Vesuviana

Archaeologists from the University of Tokyo have uncovered further evidence of the Villa of Augustus during excavations at Somma Vesuviana.

Study reveals new insights into wreck of royal flagship Gribshunden

Underwater archaeologists from Södertörn University, in collaboration with the CEMAS/Institute for Archaeology and Ancient Culture at Stockholm University, have conducted an investigation of the wreck of the royal flagship Gribshunden.

Microbe X-32 – Is the Plasticene Era coming to an end?

Breaking, a new venture in collaboration with Harvard and the Wyss Institute, is claiming that a new discovery, Microbe X-32, can naturally break down polyolefins, polyesters, and polyamides in just 22 months.

Stone sphere among artefacts repatriated to Costa Rica

395 pre-Columbian artefacts have been repatriated to Costa Rica thanks to a grant by the United States Embassy to the Cultural Agreements Fund.