A group of archaeologists announced this week the discovery of the remains of a 1,700-year-old Christian basilica in Ethiopia, from an ancient town that was once part of the Aksumite civilization. The basilica dates to the fourth century, shortly after the time that the ruler of the Aksumite empire made Christianity its official religion.
"Early basilicas in Ethiopia were key places of Christian worship, and the site at Beta Samati appears to be one of the first in the Aksumite kingdom — built shortly after King Ezana converted the empire to Christianity during the mid-fourth century AD," researchers told Fox News.
The many artifacts discovered at the site include a stone pendant researchers call "clearly important in terms of ancient Christian iconography":
A range of bronze and silver coins were also uncovered:
Also found was a gold and carnelian intaglio ring with a bull's head engraved on it:
The researchers conclude their report with:
"Beta Samati illustrates the complex interplay of political and religious authority at an ancient town ancillary to the capital of Aksum, which was expressed and reinforced by an early basilica exhibiting a complex combination of pagan and Christian ritual paraphernalia, iconography and privileged access to luxuries traded over long distances. Future research at the site has the potential to clarify a range of topics, including the rise of one of Africa's first complex polities, the development of Aksum's trade connections, the conversion from polytheism to Christianity, and the eventual decline of the Empire of Aksum."