Archeologists have discovered a Christian monastery on a United Arab Emirates Island in the Persian Gulf.
According to The Christian Post, experts estimate the island is some 1,400 years old.
This is the second monastery discovered in the Emirates that predates the rise of Islam in the area.
The most recently found monastery dates between 534 and 656 A.D. Meanwhile, the Islamic prophet Muhammad was not born until 570 A.D. and likely died in 632 A.D.
The monastery looked to have included a single-aisle church building and a second building where four other rooms may have housed a church leader. The monastery also included a baptismal, an altar, and an oven most likely used for baking communion bread.
"The fact that something similar was happening here 1,000 years ago is really remarkable, and this is a story that deserves to be told," Timothy Power, an associate professor of archaeology at the United Arab Emirates University, told the Associated Press.
Last week, Noura bint Mohammed al-Kaabi, the country's culture and youth minister, and Sheikh Majid bin Saud Al Mualla, the chairman of the Umm al-Quwain's Tourism and Archaeology Department and a son of the emirate's ruler, visited the site.
The UAE's Culture Ministry is sponsoring the dig.
The first monastery discovered in the UAE was in the 1990s on Sir Bani Yas Island. It was one of what historians say were many churches spread along the Persian Gulf all the way to India. Archaeologists and experts have found similar monasteries and churches in Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia.
Today, just about 12 percent of the UAE population is Christian.
The UAE has declared that Islam is the country's official religion but allows freedom of worship as long as it does not conflict with public policy or support religious discrimination. The UAE also criminalizes acts of "religious hatred."
In 2019, the UAE said it was working on a facility that would house a church, synagogue, and mosque to "promote religious harmony." The complex is set to be named the Abrahamic Family House.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/MRBIG PHOTOGRAPHY
Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for ChristianHeadlines.com since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and IBelieve.com. She blogs at The Migraine Runner.