A recently discovered site may shed new light on historical research into the Nestorian Church, which is believed to be the earliest Christian movement to spread the Gospel in China, reports Ucanews.
A niche in a stone wall with a cross carved above it has now been verified by experts as a repository for the ashes and bones of Christians. The experts also confirmed that this is the earliest Nestorian burial place discovered so far in China.
The discovery at the Longmen Grottoes, a UNESCO World Heritage site in central Henan province, was made in 2009. Its verification was announced to the public this week.
Precise dating has yet to be carried out, but it would have been created at some time during China’s Ming and Tang dynasties of 316-907 AD. It has yet to be established if it is older than the well known Nestorian Stele, an inscribed limestone tablet found in Xi’an, Shaanxi, which dates back to 781 AD and is currently considered the most ancient Nestorian artefact.
The discovery was made by Jiao Jianhui, a researcher at the Longmen Grottoes Research Institute. The grottoes contain thousands of Buddhist and Daoist statues and carvings, But Jiao told ucanews.com that 'this is the first discovery of a religious relic other than that of Buddhism and Daoism.'
Jiao recalled the moment when he discovered the site by chance. 'I felt instantly that it was different from other niches and grottoes,' he said.
Photo: The carved Nestorian cross can be seen above the niche, indicating that this was an early burial place for Christians
FULL STORY Historic Christian site found in China (Ucanews)