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La Repubblica / Archaeologists on a mission to Eritrea to discover the Pompeii of Africa

Posted by: Semere Asmelash

Date: Sunday, 25 February 2018

Archaeologists on a mission to Eritrea to discover the Pompeii of Africa

Mission Adulis to unearth the city of the seventh century
24 February 2018

Archaeologists on a mission to Eritrea to discover the Pompeii of Africa

A team of Italian archaeologists is bringing to light, from nothing and at great cost, the legendary port of Adulis, gem of the desert lost in the maze of time, where history and myth attract each other like sand dunes moved by the wind.The city, located on the south west coast of the Eritrean Red Sea, is shrouded in mystery. From the flourishing commercial capital of the kingdom of Axum (considered by the Prophet Mani one of the four most powerful empires of the earth) and an exotic crossroads between the colors and the civilizations of the Mediterranean, Africa and Asia, from the 7th century AD nothing is known. The hypothesis of natural cataclysm prevails among archaeologists, which is why it has earned the name of Pompeii of Africa. 

The mission, directed by the Research Center on the Eastern Desert (Ce.RDO), is slowly exuding from a layer of mud, sand and shrubs a city of forty hectares, entirely in stone and in practically perfect conditions. There are many implications and discoveries that have already occurred, especially as evidence of the early Christianization of the Horn of Africa, but the discovery, in the last campaign of 2018, of a large Byzantine church, datable to the V-VI century AD, is astonishing. , and of the Western Gate of the city, where there was the legendary Marble Throne of Adulis, relic sung for its extraordinary beauty and today lost. 

The findings were made possible thanks to a diligent collaboration between the Museums of Asmara and Massawa, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the flagship of Italian universities (Polytechnic of Milan, Catholic University, Oriental University of Naples and Pontifical Institute of Archeology Cristiana, which will host in November an archaeological exhibition on the excavations currently present at the Museo Castiglioni di Varese), and the contribution of Piccini Group as the main private sponsor. 

"We are only 1 percent of the work" says Dr. Massa, professor at the Archeology department at Cattolica, "Adulis is a treasure in continuous discovery and in such cases funds are never enough. Angelo Castiglioni found by intuition the excavation area, which to the naked eye looked like a simple desert.Now our dream is to create an archaeological park to make this wonderful site known to all.We often worked in extreme conditions, but it is a pride
represent the excellence of your country, and be able to share aspects of values ​​and culture with the Eritrean people, historically very close to us. " 

According to the hypothesis of Angelo Castiglioni, owner of the project and researcher of clear fame, it is very likely that the area where it rises Adulis coincides with the even more mythical Land of Punt, dating back four thousand years ago and cited by the Egyptians for its splendor and its richness.

*Software translation*

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