Christian site dating from the 5th century AD found in the Sahara desert
BAHARIYA OASIS, Egypt – A Franco-Norwegian archaeological team unearthed an ancient Christian site in the Sahara Desert, revealing the ‘monastic life‘from the region which dates from the 5th century AD.
The team discovered 19 buildings and a church with biblical passages and religious inscriptions.
“The complex was made up of six sectors containing the ruins of three churches and the quarters of the monks. Several buildings in basalt, others dug in bedrock and some in mud bricks, ”said Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities.
The Christian ruins were discovered in the Western Desert, an area of the Sahara located west of the Nile in Egypt. This would be the third excavation at the Tal Ganoub Qasr al-Agouz site in the western desert region of the Bahariya oasis.
The site shows the walls of the church decorated with biblical passages in Greek and other “religious inscriptions”. The walls bear graffiti and symbols with a Coptic connotation. It reveals that monks were present in the region from the 5th century AD and provided a better understanding of the evolution of buildings and the formation of the first monastic communities.
“The Christian site would have been occupied between the 4th and 8th centuries, probably reaching its peak around the 5th and 6th centuries AD. Earlier excavations in 2009 and 2013 showed that the settlers knew about wine production and conservation as well as animal husbandry, ”said the French Institute of Oriental Archeology (IFAO), which oversees the mission.
The excavations revealed that the first sector of the six regions is a church, a restaurant (dining room), fryers for the monks’ residence, and several rooms, in addition to many pieces of ostraca, which are slices of pottery. bearing Greek scriptures dating back to the 5th and 6th centuries AD.
“The significance of this discovery is due to the achievement of building planning and understanding of the formation of the first monastic congregations in Egypt from this region. The results are crystal clear. Not only do we have a wealth of evidence that the six parts of the monastery date from the 4th century, ”said Dr Victor Ghica, head of the mission.
“There were well-established monastic societies on the very edge of the Roman Empire, which is extremely early. This is something we weren’t aware of before. ”
Besides this discovery, two other archaeological digs took place in February. One of them revealed that a 5,000-year-old high-production brewery had been discovered in the south of the country. Another shows that an Egyptian-Dominican archaeological team based near Alexandria reported unearthing 2,000-year-old mummies with golden tongue amulets.
In January, experts found ancient artefacts at Saqqara cemetery near Cairo with 3,000-year-old sarcophagi.
(Edited by Pallavi Mehra and Vaibhav Vishwanath Pawar. Map by Urvashi Makwana.)
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