Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 8:46 AM on 13th December 2010
A 1,400-year-old monastery in the United Arab Emirates that is the only pre-Islamic Christian site in the region has opened to the public.
The site at Sir Bani Yas island in Abu Dhabi dates back to around 600AD. It was built by a community of 30 to 40 monks and is understood to have been established by pilgrims travelling from India.
The remains, which also include a church, chapel and tower, were unearthed in 1992 during an archaeological study. Excavations will continue as visitors come to the site with the first being allowed access on Saturday.
On display: The pre-Islamic monastery on Sir Bani Yas Island has now opened to the public, 20 years after it was first discovered
Guided tour: Visitors to the site are told about the history of the monastery as archaeologists continue to dig
From above: Rooms within the monastery become more obvious from the sky
Project director Dr Joseph Elders told UAE-based newspaper The National: 'Opening the site to visitors marks an exciting tourism development for the island as we seek to discover and share more about the past lives and human stories that have played their part in creating its fascinating history.'
'Twenty years ago, we had no idea that Christians came this far south and east in the Arabian Gulf.
'This shows that Christianity had penetrated far further than we thought before... We don't have many monasteries from this period.'
Christianity spread through the Gulf between the years 50 and 350, with the monastery's inhabitants probably being members of the Nestorian Church.
Dr Elders added that the site may have been significant because of who founded it.
He said his team had only unearthed one skeleton during their dig; however it appeared that the whole church may have been built around the body.
It is thought that the man, possibly a holy man or local saint, may also have been the reason why pilgrims visited the island - with a separate room for visitors to leave gifts.
Remains: Buildings including a church, chapel and tower have been unearthed during the digs
Carrying on: Despite the site now being open to the public, archaeologists are to continue excavating to try and find further artefacts and details about the area
They have also found rooms within the monastery decorated with plaster crosses which led into a chapel, while a main settlement room housed the monks and also had a niche for holy water and a brazier for cooking.
Archaeologists also found evidence of pottery that would have been used to prepare food with artefacts include bowls, jars and glass vessels discovered across the area.
Despite the site being more than 1,000 years old, the earliest evidence of humans on Sir Bani Yas dates to around 7,500 years ago, with locations from both the Stone and Bronze ages found.
The settlement that has opened is thought to have remained occupied until around 750 - even though by that stage Islam had begun to spread through the Gulf states.
Dr Elders continued: 'The small Sir Bani Yas Island settlement continued to operate even after the spread of Islam throughout the Gulf. That is a testament to the open-mindedness of the time.
'That the monastery continued for at least a century after the arrival of Islam shows that tolerance of the Muslims quite close to their heartland.'
'We know that there are stories of everyone living in harmony.'
Headlines Newsview all
This story might look a little weird. This is because the aftermath of this drama was unbelievable. Continue reading after the cut: A former minister, Demola ...
Nigerian Entertainment industry has lost another young blood. Popular Nigerian Hiphop producer, Harry Mordi well known as Hcode is dead. Hcode, who produced 2face Idibia ...
Rate this article
- Billboard In India Mistakes Morgan Freeman For Nelson Mandela
- 7 And 10-Year-Old Michigan Boys Honored For Turning In A $100 Bill They Found In The Park
- Shaunie O’Neal Refutes Shaq’s Claim That He Didn’t Want Kids In Reality Show
Felicia Henderson collaborates with Traffina Foundation to celebrate International women’s dayFelicia Henderson has a strong passion for her career; acting but she is also a ...
The case of Nollywood Actress Patience Ozokwor is an ironic way of life, Most people love Patience Ozokwor, because according to them she is Kind-Hearted ...
Women's equality has made positive gains but the world is still unequal. International Women's Day celebrates the social, political and economic achievements of women while ...
Nollywood’s big girl, Stephanie Okereke-Linus took out time this morning to write a long message to all the women all over the world, as they ...
“YES! It is high time I started considering relocation. To where? I don’t know but it’s something that has been bothering me for some time ...
Estranged wife of the leader of the House Hold of God Church, Pastor Chris Okotie, Stephanie Henshaw, was seen at the Glo Evergreen Series 2 ...
From all indications there has been something Popular Nigerian rapper, Lynxxx, apparently is feeling for Chidinma Ekile, the 'kedike' singer, and who knows, they might ...
It seems Oscar winner and red carpet darling Lupita Nyong’o, will be taking home another award, as she has just been nominated for this year’s ...
fashionable women never stops looking hot, you tell a woman to show you her shoe collection and you won't see a pair of heels? No ...
There has been an outburst of fire at the National Control Centre of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria in Osogbo, Osun State.The fire incident ...