(ORDO NEWS) — Archaeologists conducting excavations on the territory of Eritrea discovered the remains of ancient churches of a long-vanished, but once powerful African kingdom.
The discovery was made by a group of archaeologists who were excavating in the port of Adulis, located on the territory of modern Eritrea.
In ancient times, the powerful Aksumite kingdom owned these lands. It arose in the middle of the 1st century AD in the former territories of the fallen kingdom of D’mt, becoming its successor.
It was not just a powerful state. Due to its geographical position, it played a very important role in the transcontinental trade route that existed at that time between Ancient Rome and India.
In the era of late antiquity, this kingdom turned into one of the leading empires of the civilized world of those times.
In the port of Adulis, archaeologists have unearthed two churches built after the conversion of the kingdom to Christianity.
By the way, the change of official religion took place in the Aksumite kingdom around the 4th century AD.
And the churches found date back to the 6th and 7th centuries AD, that is, they are quite early Christian churches.
At that time, the whole of Northeast Africa and South Arabia was under the rule of the Aksumite kingdom.
As follows from the description, one of the churches found is “an elaborate cathedral with the remains of a baptistery”.
The second church was inferior to the first in size, but it had a ring of columns that supported its domed roof.
Scientists note that elements characteristic of various cultural traditions were found in the churches. This suggests that at that time Christianity was just beginning to take hold of the locals.
They did not replace one religion with another all at once. The process of substitution proceeded smoothly, it was accompanied by a mixture of customs.
Even the architecture of the temples indicates third-party influence. For example, the domed church is generally unique for the Aksumite kingdom.
Its builders were probably heavily influenced by Byzantine architecture. But the cathedral next to it, on the contrary, was erected on a large platform in accordance with Aksumite traditions.
The researchers applied modern scientific methods, which made it possible to accurately date the found structures.
So, they determined that the cathedral was built between 400 and 535 AD, and the domed church was erected between 480-625 AD.
Both buildings are among the earliest Christian churches of the Aksumite kingdom and the oldest found outside the capital of this state.
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