SCIENCE

Mummies, Mysterious Inscriptions Found In Crypt Of Ruined Christian Kingdom

12/19/2013 05:28 pm ET | Updated Jan 23, 2014

Did someone call for the crypt keeper?

crypt

Excavations at a monastery that had once been part of the ancient Christian kingdom of Makuria have turned up fascinating finds, such as this inscription-covered crypt.

The dig site lies in an area that was once part of a Christian kingdom called Makuria. The kingdom lasted for several hundred years between the 7th and 14th centuries, according to the United Nation's World Heritage Centre.

The crypt itself was found in 1993 in the ruins of the Makurian capital of Old Dongola, a place that once contained homes, churches, and mosques. But the crypt wasn't excavated until 2009 "during the larger process of excavations of the the monastic complex," Włodzimierz Godlewski, current director of the Polish Archaeological Expedition to Dongola, told The Huffington Post in an email.

So who were these mysterious Makurian mummies? A recent analysis showed that the seven bodies belonged to older males, according to a paper published in Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean. A funerary inscription indicates that one mummy may be Archbishop Georgios, who was among the kingdom's most important religious leaders in the kingdom. He died in 1113.

The religious connection suggests the inscriptions may be sacred. Written by hand in Greek and Sahidic Coptic, some appear to include passages from the Bible and an unusual prayer from the Virgin Mary in which death appears to her "in the form of a rooster," LiveScience reported.

Other crypts were discovered in the monastery, but only the crypt believed to belong to Georgios included the unique writings, Godlewski told HuffPost Science. The researcher noted that other inscriptions seem to reference something called the "Book of Great Power."

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