History & Culture

Polish discovery in Sudan in Top 10 archaeological discoveries of 2023

Scene with King David (credit: Adrian Chlebowski/ Polish Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology UW)
Scene with King David (credit: Adrian Chlebowski/ Polish Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology UW)

The discovery of paintings in Old Dongola (Sudan) by an expedition from the University of Warsaw is among the ten most important achievements in archaeology in 2023, selected by the prestigious American journal Archaeology.

A complex of rooms with interiors covered with unique scenes in Christian paint art was discovered by archaeologists working on the project led by Dr. Artur Obłuski from the university’s Polish Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology.

This spring, media in Poland and abroad covered the discovery of magnificently preserved, unique paintings. The Polish Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology UW says that the paintings have also generated considerable interest in the scientific community, in part due to iconographic motifs hitherto unknown in Christian art.

Old Dongola (Tungul) was the capital of Makuria, one of the most prominent states of medieval Africa. Research in this city was initiated by Professor Kazimierz Michałowski. It is currently conducted under the European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grant: 'UMMA - Urban Metamorphosis of the community of a Medieval African capital city'.

This spring Dr. Lorenzo de Lellis and Dr. Maciej Wyżgoł unexpectedly discovered a complex of rooms made of dried brick, the interior of which was covered with figural scenes unique in Christian paint art. The discovery was made during the exploration of houses from the Funj Sultanate period (16th-19th century CE). Under the floor of one of the houses there was an opening leading to a small room with walls decorated with unusual paintings.

Archaeological discoveries that are important for science and at the same time interesting for a wide audience are selected by the editors of Archaeology for the 'Top 10' list published every year in the December issue.

The full list of the most important discoveries is available on the website.

We wrote about the discovery here.

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