The Churches and Monasteries of Medieval Nubia: Part Three – The Church of Granite Columns, Old Dongola

Apart from the Cruciform Church, Old Dongola possessed a number of other churches. These included the Church of the Granite Columns. This was 30 m in length by 25 m in width (98 feet by 82 feet) and composed of fired red bricks. Its most striking feature, after which it was named by archaeologists, were the sixteen monolithic columns supporting its roof. The granite from which these columns were carved came from the quarries around the Nile’s third cataract. It was built in the late seventh century on the site of an earlier church, constructed a century earlier in the sixth. This Old Church was 30 m (98 feet) long, and divided into three sections. The building was strongly influenced by Greek and Byzantine architectural styles. Associated with the church was a large baptistry containing an oval basin. Running along the front of the heikal was a line of sockets, which would have supported a dividing screen.

The layout of the Church of Granite Columns is shown below:

Columns Church 1.jpeg

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