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The largest group of paintings from the turn of the VIII/IX century has been discovered in Sudan by the mission of the Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology of the University of Warsaw.
The discovery was made during excavations inside the Church of Raphael in the royal complex in Dongola, northern Sudan.
The temple is located next to the relics of a medieval palace.
Dongola was the capital of Makuria, a powerful kingdom, which existed from the sixth to the fourteenth century, between I and V cataracts of the Nile.
Its power is evidenced by the fact that the army of Makuria stopped the pressure of Muslim army in the first half of the VII century. However, it was crucial for the researchers to secure the structure.
"The inscription commemorates the meeting of the bishops of Makuria with the king and archbishop of Dongola that took place in this church.This record revealed the territorial division of the church in Makuria - it listed the names of the bishops from particular towns" - said Prof. The meeting was presided over by the king - also named in the inscription - who was formally the head of the church in this state.An interesting fact is that the meeting was attended by - endowed with the title of Metropolitan - bishop of Faras, where decades ago the Poles led by Prof. The inscription proves that he was an important person in the hierarchy of the church and had considerable political influence" - added the scientist.Kazimierz Michalowski discovered a cathedral with paintings, some of which can be admired today in the National Museum in Warsaw. In the Church of Raphael archaeologists also discovered the earliest known in Makuria image of the king made in the church - in this case, in the apse."It is the oldest example of the official iconography introduced into the sacred interior - we know a similar example from Faras, but it comes from a later period" - added Prof. The scientist believes that in terms of technology the paintings from the Church of Raphael are superior to those from Faras. The artists also used a number of expensive pigments, among others, of blue colour - lapis lazuli, rock outcrops of which are very far away from today's Sudan.
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Among the interesting discoveries scientist also mentions a pulpit made of granite blocks brought from a pharaonic temple.