Recent archaeological excavations in the Gulf have discovered remains of a sixth century Christian monastery, abandoned by monks in about 750 AD following advent of Islam in the region, Senior Metropolitan of the Universal Assyrian Church Mar Aprem said.
Aprem, who visited the Nestorian Monastery’s ruins in Sir Bani Yas Island at Abu Dhabi on June 21, said the discovery is of historical significance as it was the only early Christian site in the Gulf region.
The tour was part of a cultural exchange programme of India and the UAE.
This institution in the UAE is believed to be the major monastery in the Nestorian Church, presently known as the Assyrian Church of the East, in the Gulf region that existed between 600 and 750 AD, historians said.
He attributed the founding of a monastery in the Island to its strategic location on a major sea trade route from Mesopotamia through the Arabian Gulf to South-Eastern Arabia and India, China and the Far East.
“Christianity spread across the Gulf between 50 and 350 AD, even before the arrival of St Thomas in 52 AD at Kerala’s Muziris (Kodungalloor in Thrissur district),” Aprem, who is also the Patriarchal Delegate to India, said.
Deportation of ‘Syrian’ Christians to the area by Sassanian rulers also contributed to the spread of Christianity in the Gulf, he said.
Quoting the manager of the site, John McNight, Aprem said a lot more was to be excavated from the region and the British team was likely to resume excavations shortly.