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Archaeologists uncover ornate Christian frescos in Old Dongola

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A team of archaeologists have uncovered a collection of ornate Christian frescos during excavations in Old Dongola.

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

The Kingdom of Makuria emerged in the 5th century AD following the collapse of the Nubian Kingdom of Kush. Makuria reached its zenith between the 9th and 11th centuries AD, encompassing the territory stretching from the Third Cataract along the Nile River to below Abu Hamad, as well as certain regions of northern Kordofan.

The kingdom underwent a cultural and religious transformations known as “Nubization” to counter the increasing impact of Arabic within the Coptic Church. These reforms involved the adoption of the veneration of deceased rulers, bishops, and local Nubian saints.

Image Credit : University of Warsaw

Archaeologists from the Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology, University of Warsaw, have been conducting a research project called “UMMA – Urban Metamorphosis of the community of a Medieval African capital city”.

Excavations have revealed an underground chamber and a complex of vaulted and domed rooms constructed using mudbrick that date from between the 16th to 19th century AD during the period of the Funj Sultanate.

Several of the rooms are decorated with a collection of frescos showing Christian scenes with depictions of Christ, the archangel Michael, Mary, and representations of a Nubian ruler. Accompanying the artwork are inscriptions, one of which mentions King David several times and asks God to protect the city.

According to the archaeologists: “He was one of the last rulers of Christian Makuria, whose reign marks the beginning of the end of the kingdom. For unknown reasons, King David attacked Egypt, which invaded Nubia as part of a retaliatory action and Dongola was conquered for the first time in its history. Perhaps the painting was created when the Mamluk army was approaching the city or was besieging it.”

The room housing the David inscriptions resembles a crypt and is located several metres about the medieval ground level. It is located adjacent to a large, monumental building, which the researchers believe was the Cathedral of Dongola called the Great Church of Jesus, mentioned in historical texts.

The unique paintings have been preserved by conservators under the direction of Magdalena Skarżyńska, MA. The conservation team operated as part of the cooperation between the Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology of the University of Warsaw and the Department of Conservation and Restoration of Works of Art of the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw.

PAP

Header Image Credit : University of Warsaw

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Archaeology

Study indicates that Firth promontory could be an ancient crannog

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A study by students from the University of the Highlands and Islands has revealed that a promontory in the Loch of Wasdale in Firth, Orkney, could be the remains of an ancient crannog.

A crannog is a partially or entirely artificial island, typically built in lakes and estuarine waters of Scotland from the prehistoric period onward.

Crannogs were used as dwellings, taking advantage of the natural surroundings that may have served to provide a defensive purpose.

Despite significant variations in methodology, most crannogs on mainland Scotland were built by driving timber piles into the loch bed and filling the interior with peat, brush, stones, or timber to create a solid foundation.

In largely treeless regions like the Western Isles, these island dwellings utilised a diverse mix of natural, artificially enlarged, or entirely artificial islets.

The discovery was made by students from the UHI Archaeology Institute, who were conducting test-pitting on a promontory at the northern end of the Loch of Wasdale.

According to a press statement by UHI: “It appears as an islet on the 1882 Ordnance Survey map. Little is known about the site, but the fact the shoreside edges appear to show the remains of walling led to the suggestion it may be a crannog.”

In his Reminiscences of an Orkney Parish, John Firth (1838-1922) wrote that this islet was once home to a kirk: “During the Middle Ages several chapels existed in the district now known as the parish of Firth – one on the island in the Loch of Wasdale.”

The test-pitting revealed large quantities of cairn-like rubble, in addition to more structural remains or a stone surface, indicating that the entire promontory/islet is artificial.

Martin Carruthers, a lecturer at UHI, said: “A structure made up of some very large masonry seems to lurk at the heart of the cairn makeup. Constructing this ‘monument’ must have been a very substantial undertaking.”

“In terms of artefacts, apart from some later post-medieval glazed pottery, we recovered a single worked flint, probably a ‘thumbnail’ scraper, which is most likely later Neolithic in date,” added Carruthers.

Header Image Credit : Shutterstock

Sources : UHI

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

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Archaeologists identify the original sarcophagus of Ramesses II

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Archaeologists from Sorbonne University have identified the original sarcophagus of Ramesses II, otherwise known as Ramesses the Great.

Ramesses II was the third pharaoh of the 19th Dynasty during the New Kingdom period.
His reign is often regarded as the most celebrated in Egypt’s history, marked by several major military campaigns and numerous monument construction projects.

Based on supporting historical accounts, most Egyptologists suggest that Ramesses II assumed the throne in 1279 BC and reigned until his death at the age of around 90 in 1212 or 1213 BC.

His remains were interred in a tomb complex (designated KV7) in the Valley of the Kings, located opposite the tomb of his sons (KV5), and near the tomb (KV8) of his son and successor, Merenptah.

During the reign of Ramesses III during the 20th Dynasty, the tomb of Ramesses II was looted by grave robbers. Ancient texts record that priests moved his remains to the tomb of Queen Ahmose Inhapy, and then to the tomb of the high priest Pinedjem II.

His final resting place was a tomb (designated TT320), located next to Deir el-Bahari, in the Theban Necropolis opposite Luxor. The tomb is a Royal Cache containing the mummified remains of more than 50 kings, queens, and other royal family members of the New Kingdom period.

The mummy of Ramesses II was discovered in TT320 during excavations in 1881. He was found placed in a simple wooden coffin, suggesting that this was meant as a temporary measure until a more permanent resting place could be determined.

A new study, published in the Revue d’Égyptologie, suggests that a fragment of a sarcophagus discovered in 2009 at Abydos was part of the original sarcophagus of Ramesses II.

The sarcophagus fragment was found in a Coptic monastery and has recently been re-examined by Egyptologist Frédéric Payraudeau from Sorbonne University.

According to the study author, the decoration and texts on the sarcophagus fragment indicate that it was first used by Ramesses II (evidenced by the cartouche of Ramesses II), and later reused by a high priest of the 21st Dynasty, Menkheperre (around 1000 BC) who likely had the sarcophagus transported to Abydos after KV7 was looted.

Header Image Credit : Sarcophagus fragment – Kevin Cahail

Sources : cnrs | Le sarcophage de Ramsès II remployé à Abydos – Published in the Revue d’Égyptologie.

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

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