back to top

    Unveiling Unique Christian Art: Archaeologists Discover Intriguing Paintings in Ancient African Capital

    Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

    Archaeologists led by Dr. Artur Obłuski from the Polish Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology at the University of Warsaw have made an exciting discovery in Old Dongola (Tungul), the capital of the medieval African state of Makuria. During the exploration of houses dating from the Funj period, they stumbled upon a complex of rooms adorned with unique figural scenes in Christian art.

    The interiors of the sun-dried brick rooms were covered with paintings depicting the Mother of God, Christ, a Nubian king, and Archangel Michael. The scene of the Nubian king bowing to Christ, while being supported by Archangel Michael, stands out as a particularly rare representation. The dynamic and intimate nature of this artwork contrasts with the more hieratic figures found on the side walls.

    Furthermore, the depiction of the Virgin Mary on the north wall of the chamber deviates from the typical portrayals in Nubian art. The conservation team, led by Magdalena Skarżyńska, has worked diligently to preserve these unique paintings, which also feature accompanying inscriptions. These inscriptions, written in Greek and Old Nubian, contain mentions of a king named David and prayers for the protection of the city.

    The researchers speculate that the depicted king David could be one of the last rulers of Christian Makuria, who led an ill-fated attack on Egypt, resulting in the invasion of Nubia and the subsequent sack of Dongola. The discovery raises questions about the purpose of the complex of rooms and its relationship to the nearby Great Church of Jesus, which may have played a role in inciting the attack.

    Further excavation and study of the inscriptions will shed light on this intriguing find. The conservation efforts have successfully secured the wall paintings, ensuring their preservation for future research. The team plans to continue their research in Dongola in the coming autumn, hoping to unravel more mysteries surrounding this ancient African capital city.

    More in section