Researchers recently discovered a rare Christian tattoo while studying a medieval site in Sudan.
The tattoo was found on the top of the foot of a body found at a nearby burial site.
Full-spectrum photography reveals the symbols of a Christogram and the Alpha and Omega Greek letters.
Archeologists studying a burial site near a medieval monastery spotted a rare find when examining one of the bodies: the faint remains of a series of Christian symbols tattooed on the person's foot.
"It was quite a surprise to all of a sudden see what appeared to be a tattoo," said Kari A. Guilbault, a Purdue University bioarchaeologist in a statement released by the University of Warsaw. "At first, I was not certain, but when the images were processed and the tattoo was clearly visible, any initial uncertainties were removed."
The tattoo — located on the top of one of the bodies' feet — is of the Greek letters Alpha and Omega as well as a so-called "Christogram," a religious symbol combining the Greek letters Chi and Rho to make an abbreviation for Christ's name.
The researchers released images of the tattoo taken with a full-spectrum camera and digitally enhanced to show the outline of the early Christian symbols.
The team was investigating the Ghazali monastery, a well-preserved archeological site located in Sudan, according to the University of Warsaw's statement.
The site in the Bayuda desert was initially studied between 2012 and 2018 when a Polish-Sudanese team explored the monastery and the surrounding four burial sites and their hundreds of graves.
Researchers took photos of some buried bodies to learn more about the people who lived in the area. While reviewing the photos, Guilbault spotted the symbols.
Guilbault and bioarchaeologist Robert Stark of the Polish Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology at the University of Warsaw told LiveScience that the location of the tattoo was intriguing since it may line up with where Jesus is said to have had a nail driven through during his crucifixion.
The individual wasn't buried in the same cemetery as the monastery's monks but rather in a burial ground that may have been used by people from nearby communities, Stark and Guilbault said.
The pair told LiveScience that the person lived sometime between 667 and 774 and was buried in a burial ground that may have been used by members of the nearby community.
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