Home Christian News Christian Monastery Possibly Pre-Dating Islam Found in UAE

Christian Monastery Possibly Pre-Dating Islam Found in UAE

The island remains part of the ruling family’s holdings, protecting the island for years to allow the historical sites to be found.

The UAE’s Culture Ministry has sponsored the dig in part, which continues at the site. Just hundreds of meters (yards) away from the church, a collection of buildings that archaeologists believe belongs to a pre-Islamic village sit.

Elsewhere on the island, piles of tossed-aside clams from pearl hunting make for massive, industrial-sized hills. Nearby also sits a village that the British blew up in 1820 before the region became part of what was known as the Trucial States, the precursor of the UAE. That village’s destructions brought about the creation of the modern-day settlement of Umm al-Quwain on the mainland.

Historians say early churches and monasteries spread along the Persian Gulf to the coasts of present-day Oman and all the way to India. Archaeologist have found other similar churches and monasteries in Bahrain, Iraq, Iran, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

In the early 1990s, archaeologists discovered the first Christian monastery in the UAE, on Sir Bani Yas Island, today a nature preserve and site of luxury hotels off the coast of Abu Dhabi, near the Saudi border. It similarly dates back to the same period as the new find in Umm al-Quwain.

However, evidence of early life along the Khor al-Beida marshlands in Umm al-Quwain dates as far back as the Neolithic period — suggesting continuous human inhabitance in the area for at least 10,000 years, Power said.

Today, the area near the marshland is more known for the low-cost liquor store at the emirate’s Barracuda Beach Resort. In recent months, authorities have demolished a hulking, Soviet-era cargo plane linked to a Russian gunrunner known as the “Merchant of Death” as it builds a bridge to Siniyah Island for a $675 million real estate development.

Power said that development spurred the archaeological work that discovered the monastery. That site and others will be fenced off and protected, he said, though it remains unclear what other secrets of the past remain hidden just under a thin layer of sand on the island.

“It’s a really fascinating discovery because in some ways it’s hidden history — it’s not something that’s widely known,” Power said.

This article originally appeared on APNews.com.