The Ghazali Christian Monastery, located in the valley of Wadi Abu Dom, in the Bayuda desert, and occupied between the 7th and 13th centuries, is one of the best preserved archaeological sites in Sudan. Investigated between 2012 and 2018, archaeologists from the University of Warsaw showed four necropolises with several hundred graves and human remains were analyzed in the laboratories of the Polish Center for Mediterranean Archeology of the University of Warsaw, which have a purpose to know. the origin of this population and try to learn more about their way of life.
However, bioarchaeological analysis of the remains of a man between 35 and 50 years old who lived at the site sometime between approximately 667 and 774 yielded a surprising discovery: a rare medieval religious tattoo. During the photographic documentation of the remains of this man buried in cemetery number one, researchers identified at his right foot a chrismonnamely, a monogram of Christ formed by the Greek letters X (ji) and P (rho), the first two of his name in this language.
Tattooing, the second evidence of this type of practice in Middle Ages Nubia – a region that includes parts of present-day Egypt and Sudan -, according to a statement from the Polish Center for Mediterranean Archaeology, was completed others too greek letters alpha and omega, the first and last of the alphabet, representing the Christian belief that God is the beginning and the end of all things. The origin of the chrismon symbol dates back to the 3rd century AD, during the reign of the Roman emperor Constantine the Great.
“It was surprising to suddenly see what a tattoo was when I was working on the collection of Ghazali’s remains. At first I was not sure, but when the images were processed and the tattoo was clearly visible, all doubts disappeared. “, explained Carriage A. Guilbaultthe bioarchaeologist who made the discovery.
Although the tattoo raises many questions about the practice of faith in this region and at this time, researchers have already raised some hypotheses. That the chrismon is located on the right foot may be associated in some symbolic way with nails with those who held Jesus Christ at the time of his crucifixion.
Questions also arose as to who this person was. Initial investigations by archaeologists suggest it could member of the local communitysince the necropolis where he was buried did not house the remains of the monks who lived in the cenobitic monastic complex, it was probably built by a king called Mercurios.
The center of the spiritual life of the site developed around the two churches. The north, built between 680 and 720, has a basilica plan and is decorated with paintings. On its walls is documented 137 registration which gives relevant data about the life of the monks and the visits. The south temple is trapezoidal and made of mud bricks. Iron smelting furnaces and facilities for food production, such as a mill with silos and an oil press, were also seen at the site. The monastery, which may have had about 70 religious at its peak, fell into disuse in the second half of the 12th century and was completely abandoned by the end of the following century.