Friday, December 27, 2013

Makurian mummies

In the Middle Ages, in the Nile Valley of what is now Sudan, thrived a Christian kingdom living peaceably with Islamic neighbors to the north. Old Dongola was the capital of Makuria, and that is the site of a crypt (IMAGE ABOVE) which was recently excavated. First discovered in 1993 by the Polish Mission to Dongola, it has been excavated and studied by an international team of researchers since 2009. Seven naturally mummified bodies were found within the tightly sealed crypt. Textile specialists are studying the linen garments they wore. Conservationists have cleaned the crypt walls so that the many Christian inscriptions, written in Greek and Sahidic Coptic, could be recorded and studied in detail. But it will be up to physical anthropologists and paleopathologists to determine which of the mummies is the kingdom's most powerful religious leader, Archbishop Georgios (d. 1113 A.D., age 82), whose epitaph was found nearby.

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