Italo-Eritrea Archeologists Discover Horn of Africa’s Oldest Churches


…. dates back to the second half of the 4th century.

The oldest churches in the Horn of Africa has been discovered in the ancient city of Adulis
The oldest churches in the Horn of Africa has been discovered in the ancient city of Adulis by a group of researchers from Eritrea and Italia. (photo: Ansa)


An Italo-Eritrean mission found remains of two early Christian churches, which dates back to the second half of the 4th century, and, therefore, it is estimated that the Horn of Africa Christianity would have extended few decades after the Decree of Costantino, who, in 313 AD, made the practice of faith free.

It is a discovery that aroused interest even within the Pontifical Institute of Christian Archeology, which recently joined the group of Universities already involved in the research.

The reconstruction of the two churches and other findings will be exhibited next November in a show at the Castiglioni Museum in Varese.

The Italo-Eritrean archaeological mission began its work in 2011 and has already brought to light the ancient port of Adulis in Eritrea, on the shores of the Red Sea.

An important sea port whereas the city communicated to the Indian Ocean with the Mediterranean Sea, comparable to the spices or the silk route.

Dwelling at the end of the 7th century AD, following a catastrophic flood caused by the collapse of a barrier of a water basin in the mountains that exceeded the city, Adulis, like Pompeii, preserved underground constructions and remains.

The excavations saw a series of finds, including coins and turtle objects.

“But in that area you could look for another 30 years,” said Marco Castiglioni, who manages the Museum of Varese. A new mission of the Italo-Eritrean team, led by the brothers Alfredo and Angelo Castiglioni (researchers, archaeologists, ethnologists and filmmakers) is planned for next January and February.

Thanks to the donations of the Castiglioni brothers, the museum was born in Varese, which is composed of archaeologists from the Catholic University of Milan and the Eastern University of Naples; and by architects of the Polytechnic of Milano, in charge of the restoration of monuments.

The scientific leader of the mission is Professor Serena Massa, from the Catholic University of Milan.

The exhibition at the Museo Castiglioni will open on November 7.

The highlights will be the reconstruction of the two churches, on the occasion of what emerged from the excavations.

Many other relics from the horn of Africa will also be displayed.

* Software translation from Italiano