Saturday, November 14, 2009

Byzantine Baptistry discovered in Egypt

Polish archaeologists discovered an unknown baptistery, and a few hundred bronze coins during archaeological work in Marea, a town situated 44 kilometers southwest of Alexandria.

According to Science and Scholarship in Poland, the project, being run by The University of Warsaw's Center of Mediterranean Archaeology and The Archaeology Museum in Kraków has focused their recent efforts on examining the eastern side of the basilica and rooms placed behind the southwestern corner of the building.

While excavating the floors in the basilicas main nave and its northern side nave the archaeologists discovered a baptistery. Its dimension is 4.5 by 2.5 meters and is 1.5 meters high. It is built from large stone blocks.

The archaeologists also discovered a well attached to the baptistery with special holes in its walls for the people who where to clean it. It hasn't been established whether water that was used to baptize people came from the well, from a lake or from another underground source.

The archaeologists are also surprised that the whole construction was rested on a stylobate, they believed the column was removed in order to build the baptistery. The archaeologists also add that the baptistery, which was discovered in 2003, was built in the 5th century A.D., and may have been completed before constructing the main part basilica.

Two giant structures were discovered in the southern nave. They were probably built there to create a small area next to the side entrance to the basilica. Archaeologists discovered fragments of a marble bowl for holy water between them. In the northeastern corner of the basilica archaeologists discovered a camouflaged cellar made up of two rooms, partially rock-hewn. The cellar was full of almost one hundred small water vessels and olive lamps. They also discovered a few hundred bronze coins. Two ditches above the cellar served to ventilate it.

Marea was a bustling port in the early middle ages, and was occupied until the 16th century. Early archaeological digs have discovered shops and a bath, which operated during the 7th and early 8th centuries.

Other available resources with more information about the Marea project:

Marea on Lake Maryut

The Location and Reconstruction of a Byzantine Structure in Marea, Egypt Including a Comparison of Electronic Remote Sensing and Remote Viewing