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Polish archaeological discovery makes top 10 list of 2023

07.12.2023 12:00
The discovery of unique paintings from Old Dongola, in present-day Sudan, by Polish archaeologists has been included in the top 10 list of the most important discoveries of 2023, as compiled by the prestigious Archaeology magazine.
A fresco at a medieval church in Old Dongola, a deserted town in Sudan.
A fresco at a medieval church in Old Dongola, a deserted town in Sudan.Photo: Tanjagari, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

The finding, by a team led by Artur Obłuski from the Polish Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology at the University of Warsaw, was made during research conducted under the European Research Council’s Starting Grant "UMMA – Urban Metamorphosis of the Community of a Medieval African Capital City."

According to Archaeology, the paintings, which depict "the Virgin Mary, the Eternal God, the Archangel Michael, Christ, and the Makurite King David kissing the hand of Christ," have generated considerable interest in the scientific community.

The magazine says: "One of the reasons was the unique iconography featuring representations hitherto unknown in Christian art, such as the depiction of Mary, or of the direct contact between a mortal and a supernatural being.”

Archaeology adds: “Polish scholars have pioneered research on the medieval Nubian kingdoms in Sudan. The Warsaw University’s expedition has been working in Old Dongola since 1964. This accolade for the latest discovery at the site is all the more welcome as it is a reminder of Sudan’s rich cultural heritage at a time when the country is being torn apart by civil war.”

The magazine has been published by the Archaeological Institute of America for over 70 years.