Archeological excavations carried out since 2002 by a Polish expedition in Banganarti, a village located ten kilometers to the south of the ruins of Dongola, the capital of the Christian kingdom of Makuria, revealed two churches one standing atop the other. The upper church, probably built in the 11th century, was towards the end of its usage, the goal of numerous pilgrimages, which is proved by almost a thousand inscriptions left on its walls by worshippers. The inscriptions are composed in either local Nubian language or in Greek. They usually mention the name of the visitor, occasionally accompanied by additional information about the person, such as father's name, the place of origin, profession or function, in case of clergy, also the place of ecclesiastic service. The information occurs together with invocations and short prayers, most of which are directed to Archangel Raphael, thus indicating that he was the patron saint of the church. The inscriptions give an idea on cultural patterns functioning in the kingdom of Makuria. Mentions of churches and their names reveal patterns of Nubian piety, which was directed to Jesus, Mary and angelic beings. Thanks to information about occupation and social status of worshippers, we can reconstruct the picture of Makurian society at the end of the existence of independent Makurian state. The inscriptions also provide us with direct information on historic events and allow us to complete some gaps on the list of Makurian kings of the times covered by the texts.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.