Archaeologists discover ancient Christian settlements in Egyptian desert

According to the Ministry of Antiquities of Egypt, the French-Norwegian archaeological team discovered new Christian settlements in the Western Desert of Egypt, which indicates the existence of monasteries in the region in the 5th century AD.

According to the ministry, during its third expedition to the Tal Ghanoub Qasr al-Aghouz site in the Bahariya oasis, the group discovered “several buildings made of basalt, some carved into the rock, and some made of mud bricks.”

The complex consists of “six plots containing the ruins of three churches and monk cells,” the walls of which “bear inscriptions and symbols with Coptic overtones,” said Osama Talaat, head of the ministry’s Islamic, Coptic and Jewish Antiquities Department.

The head of the mission, Victor Gica, said that last year, “19 structures and a church carved into the rock” were discovered.

The church walls were decorated with “religious inscriptions” and biblical passages in Greek, revealing “the nature of monastic life in the region,” Gica said.

This clearly shows that monks have been present here since the fifth century A.D., he said, adding that the discovery helped understand “the development of construction and the formation of the first monastic communities” in this region of Egypt.

According to the French Institute for Oriental Archaeology (IFAO), responsible for the excavations, the remote site, located in the desert southwest of the capital Cairo, was inhabited between the fourth and eighth centuries, with probable activity peaking around the fifth and sixth centuries.

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