by Jordan Hilger, Worthy News Correspondent
(Worthy News) - Researchers have discovered what is thought to be the oldest church in sub-Saharan Africa in Ethiopia, allowing scholars to now reliably date the spread of Christianity to the continent to the Constantinian era.
The find at Beta Samati, which means "house of audience" in the local tongue, revealed a 1,700-year-old former Roman administrative building that had been converted into a church around the time the Roman Empire made Christianity its official religion.
The remnants of the Ethiopian Askumite civilization and its syncretic Christian artifacts, about which historians know little, “confirm Ethiopian tradition that Christianity arrived at an early date in an area nearly 3,000 miles from Rome,” the Smithsonian said.
In addition to the fourth century A.D. basilica, archaeologists discovered incense burners and a stone pendant carved with a cross emblazoned with the Ethiopic word for "venerable," reflecting a "mixing of pagan and Christian traditions" and a "complex blurring of secular trade and administration...that warrants further investigation."