Buried Christian empire sheds new light on early Islam

Last Updated: Sun, Dec 30, 2012 08:30 hrs

A figure chiseled in stone that apparently stems from the era of the Prophet has been found in Yemen, and has sparked a number of questions about if there was ever a church in Mecca.

Paul Yule, an archaeologist from the southwestern German city of Heidelberg, has uncovered the 1.70 meters tall relief, in Zafar, some 930 kilometers south of Mecca.

The relief depicts a man with chains of jewellery, curls and spherical eyes.

Yule has dated the image to the time around 530 AD.

He concluded that Zafar was the centre of an Arab tribal confederation, a realm that was two million square kilometres large and exerted its influence all the way to Mecca.

Even more astonishing was his conclusion that kings who invoked the Bible lived in the highland settlement and the "crowned man" depicted on the relief was also a Christian.

Yule analyzed the mysterious, robed figure, who is barefoot, which is typical of Coptic saints and is holding a bundle of twigs, a symbol of peace, in his left hand.

There is also a crossbar on his staff, giving it the appearance of a cross. In addition, he is wearing a crown on his head like the ones that were worn by the Christian rulers of ancient Ethiopia.

All of this suggests that the man with the strange, round face is a descendant of the conquerors from Africa who succeeded in making one of the boldest landing operations in ancient times. (ANI)

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