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Umm Al Quwain Department of Tourism and Archaeology
monastery in UAE.jpg
Umm Al Quwain Department of Tourism and Archaeology
World News

Christian monastery that could pre-date Islam discovered in UAE

by Sophie Drew

A Christian monastery that is believed to pre-date Islam has been found in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

It's the second such monastery found in the area - the first was discovered in the early 1990s on Sir Bani Yas Island, near the border of Saudi Arabia. Both buildings are believed to date back 1,400 years. 

Carbon samples suggest the buried building could have been in use in the early sixth to mid-seventh century. Many scholars believe early Christians converted to Islam in the seventh century, when the rise of the Muslim faith grew exponentially in the area. Some historians consider this to be the official start of the Islamic faith.

Due to the number of people moving away from Christianity there, the buildings fell out of use and became buried in the growing sand dunes. The excavation took place 30 miles northeast of Dubai, on Siniyah Island. 

According to the archaeologists, the ruins appear to contain a baptismal font and an oven for baking communion bread. They also found evidence of cells, where monks would likely sit in isolation.

The discovery, which is the sixth ancient monastery to have been found in the Arabian Gulf, was made by the Sinniyah Archaeology Project.They were working in collaboration with the Umm Al Quwain Department of Tourism and Archaeology, the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World at New York University, and the Italian Archaeological Mission. 

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