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Ancient Egyptian discovery rewrites history of Sudanese kingdom

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Polish archaeologists excavating at the ruins of Old Dongola in Sudan have discovered Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics inscribed on sandstone blocks.

Old Dongola was the capital of the Nubian kingdom of Makuria, located on the eastern banks of the River Nile in Northern Sudan.

The Kingdom of Makuria emerged during the 5th century AD following the collapse of the Nubian Kingdom of Kush. At its peak during the 9th–11th century AD, the kingdom stretched from the area along the Nile from the Third Cataract, to south of Abu Hamad, and parts of northern Kordofan.

The kingdom saw cultural and religious reforms, referred to as “Nubization”, that sought to counter the growing influence of Arabic in the Coptic Church, and introduced the cult of dead rulers and bishops, as well as indigenous Nubian saints.

Image Credit : Dr. Dawid F. Wieczorek

Recent excavations at Old Dongola have uncovered over 100 blocks of white sandstone, inscribed with Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics from the period of the 25th dynasty of Egypt, also known as the Nubian Dynasty.

The 25th dynasty was a line of pharaohs who originated in the Kingdom of Kush that reigned in part or all of Ancient Egypt for nearly a century, from 744 to 656 BC. The 25th Dynasty’s reunification of Lower Egypt, Upper Egypt, and Kush, created the largest Egyptian empire since the New Kingdom. They assimilated into society by reaffirming Ancient Egyptian religious traditions, temples, and artistic forms, while introducing some unique aspects of Kushite culture.

The blocks found at Old Dongola were originally part of a structure, possibly a temple, built in the first half of the 1st millennium BC, the earliest example of human activity on the site identified so far.

Egyptologist Dr. Dawid F. Wieczorek said: “This is a huge discovery, because despite the 60-year Polish archaeological presence in Old Dongola, no evidence of such early construction activity on the site has been identified so far. It is impossible to say whether this material is local or was brought from some other site. Nevertheless, it is surprising that there are so many of these blocks, and from different parts it seems of the same temple.”

Some of the blocks are from the flooring, outer walls, and from a pylon (a tower flanking the entrance to the temple). “This would push back the known history of this city by over 1000 years,” said Dr. Wieczorek.

Within a radius of more than 100 kilometres from Old Dongola, there are no other known examples of sites with Egyptian-style architecture. The closest are Gebel Barkal (about 150 km up the Nile), and Kawa (about 120 km down the Nile). Both were leading urban and religious centres established during the New Kingdom in the 16th and 14th centuries BC.

PAP

Header Image Credit : Dr. Dawid F. Wieczorek

This content was originally published on www.heritagedaily.com – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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Archaeology

Geophysical study finds evidence of “labyrinth” buried beneath Mitla

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

Mitla is an archaeological site associated with the Zapotec culture, located in the Oaxaca Valley in the present-day state of Oaxaca in southern Mexico.

The Zapotec civilisation emerged in the late 6th century BC, originating in the Central Valleys of the Etla. The culture was centred on the settlements of Oaxaca, San José Mogote, and Mitla, with the city of Monte Albán serving as the civic-ceremonial centre.

At its peak, the Zapotec had a population of more than 500,000 inhabitants, having developed sophisticated construction techniques, a writing system, two calendar systems, and complex agricultural cultivation.

In 2016, the Lyobaa Project, an institutional collaboration led by the National Institute of History and Anthropology (INAH) employed ground penetrating radar (GPR), electrical resistivity tomography (ERT), and ambient seismic noise interferometry (AIRSA) to explore potential archaeological features beneath the San Pablo Apóstol church, built atop the Zapotec ruins in Mitla.

Image Credit : Lyobaa Project

According to local legend, the church was constructed on an entrance way to an underground labyrinth, serving as a passage between the realm of the living to the realm of the dead, referred to as Mictlán in Nahuatl, meaning the “place of the dead” or “underworld.”

In 1674, the Dominican chronicler, Francisco Burgoa, described Spanish missionaries entering the labyrinth: “Such was the corruption and bad smell, the dampness of the floor, and a cold wind which extinguished the lights, that at the little distance they had already penetrated, they resolved to come out, and ordered this infernal gate to be thoroughly closed with masonry.”

As part of phase two of the Lyobaa Project, the researchers have identified buried architectural complexes and a series of corridors during a study of the Calvario, Arroyo, and del Sur groups within the archaeological zone.

The Arroyo group, located in the central area of the site has three quadrangle features connected by tunnels that likely date from AD 1200 during the Late Postclassic period.

The project also conducted a survey of the quadrangular plaza where the San Pablo Apóstol church was constructed on the remains of a pre-Hispanic temple. Beneath the plaza the researchers found that there are four mounds with clay internal cores.

Archaeologist, Denisse Argote, said: “We were able to determine that, although the core of the stepped structure is solid, the foundation of the historic church requires short-term intervention to guarantee its conservation, so measures must be taken to ensure its structural stability.”

“There are cracks in the historic building, since it does not have a foundation and, underneath, in what corresponds to the remains of the pre-Hispanic building, it seems that there are areas with small cavities,” added Argote.

Header Image Credit : Shutterstock

Sources : INAH

This content was originally published on www.heritagedaily.com – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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Archaeology

Discovery of a Romanesque religious structure rewrites history of Frauenchiemsee

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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.

According to the researchers, the structure holds important religious significance, suggesting it might have been erected to venerate Blessed Irmgard (also known as Irmengard), the daughter of King Louis the German and the great-granddaughter of Charlemagne.

During the mid-9th century, Irmgard was appointed the first abbess of Frauenwörth Abbey, who restored the decaying premises and founded a Benedictine convent for nuns. Because of her royal ancestry, she had the right to wear a thin golden hoop resembling a crown, often depicted on paintings and frescoes with her image.

Following her death in 866, Irmgard was venerated and her head reliquary was translated to Seeon Abbey in 1004. She was officially beatified in 1929 by Pope Pius XI, and a celebratory ceremony in 2003 saw her relics reunified.

A recent geophysical study to locate the demolished remains of the Church of Saint Martin has revealed the imprint of a Romanesque structure completely absent from all historical text and contemporary maps.

Image Credit : Bavarian State Office for Monument Preservation

The structure is buried at a depth of 1 metre and measures 19 metres in diameter. The GPR results reveal the floor plan of an octagonal central building with an ambulatory formed by eight supports and four arrange in a cross shape.

Mathias Pfeil of the Bavarian State Office for Monument Preservation notes that religious structures with pre-Romanesque or Romanesque architecture, particularly those with sacral significance, are exceedingly uncommon north of the Alps. Such edifices are often perceived as imitations of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.

According to the researchers, the structure was likely built during the construction of the new monastery and Romanesque abbey church (of which the gatehouse and bell tower survive to this day) to venerate Irmgard as a destination for pilgrims

Header Image Credit : Bavarian State Office for Monument Preservation

Sources : Bavarian State Office for Monument Preservation

This content was originally published on www.heritagedaily.com – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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