Polish archaeologists discover dozens of medieval paintings

During excavations in the Raphael’s church in the royal complex in Dongola (Sudan) archaeologists of The Polish Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology of the University in Warsaw have discovered the largest number of paintings so far. The excavations took place in January this year.

Inside the church of archangel Raphael in Dongola (by M. Rekłajtis)
Inside the church of archangel Raphael in Dongola (by M. Rekłajtis)

The excavations, lead by prof. Włodzimierz Godlewski take place in the former capital of the once thriving kingdom of Makuria, that from 6th to 14th c. AD in the lands between the First and Fifth Cataract on the Nile. The church of Raphael, being the site of the excavation was discovered in 2006, and recently covered with a roof, that enabled the excavations to be conducted.

The discovered painting depict archangels, angels, priests, saints and state officials of the 9th century Nubian kingdom. Each figure is accompanied with a description informing about their name and state function. Among them is a depiction of Makurian bishops together with the king and archbishop of Dongola. Basing on the painting it was possible to reconstruct the administrative organisation of Makurian church, as the names of the bishops of each city were listed.

Other findings in the church include a pulpit made of partially hieroglyph-covered granite blocks transported from a pharaoh temple and a piece of a wooden, doublesided icon. This artefact possesses a depiction of the Holy Mother and a written prayer on one side and a historical figure – possibly a contemporary ruler – on the other.

The excavations are said to be continued in November this year.

(after Nauka w Polsce & M. Rekłajtis)

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