How did medieval monasteries in Nubia look? Now it is possible to find it out. Archaeologists from the Polish Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology of the University of Warsaw have digitally reconstructed buildings that can now be visited without leaving home.
Polish scholars have extensive experience in research on medieval Nubia. It was Prof. Kazimierz Michałowski’s discoveries that helped to establish an entire field of research called Nubiology. His work in the famous cathedral in Faras brought to light the paintings that now adorn the collections of national museums in Khartoum and Warsaw. Since then, there have been further discoveries related to the Christian culture of medieval Africa: in Dongola, Banganarti, and Ghazali.
Ghazali is located in northern Sudan, approx. 20 km from the modern town of Karima. The research by PCMA UW expeditions at the site encompassed a medieval monastery (7th–13th century), the remains of a small settlement, cemeteries, and iron production sites. “We conducted archaeological work in parallel with a heritage management project, preparing the site for visitors,” says Dr. Artur Obłuski, PCMA UW Director and head of the expedition. Adding: “However, we were aware that not many tourists would reach the site unless the political situation becomes more inviting. Hence the idea to make a virtual tour.”
“Virtual Nubia” is a joint effort of archaeologists, architects, and graphic designers to show the erstwhile appearance of the monastery.
3D models of the monastery in Ghazali available at www.virtualnubia.uw.edu.pl/en.
The individual parts of the monastery are captioned on the model of the building, and clicking on their name takes the visitor to a page with the model of their interior and exterior, provided with a description. This way you can get to know e.g. the dormitory, churches, or the monastery kitchen. For comparison, photos show the same places during archaeological works. Reconstructions of several artifacts – ceramic and glass vessels – discovered at the site are also presented.