How the 1,000 Year Old Cross was Discovered
An ancient marble cross, believed to be as old as 1,200 years, has been discovered in the foothills of the Karakoram mountain range. This is in the center of the Himalayas and it provides proofs for Christianity’s early arrival in northern Pakistan from the Middle East.
According to a report from Barnabas Fund, three University of Baltistan researchers, led by vice-chancellor Muhammad Khan, and local mountaineers discovered the ancient 2.1 by 1.8 m cross. It was found near their base-camp in the Muslim dominated region bordering with China, Afghanistan and India.
The “Kavardo Cross” is thought to be the largest discovered in the subcontinent and is estimated to weigh around four tonnes.
Encouragement to Christians
“Praise the Lord, this makes me very joyful,” one Pakistani Christian leader reacted. “It will be a great encouragement to Christians in Pakistan to show that our faith was here many, many generations ago, before Islam came. This is amazing news! I am looking forward to what the research outcome will reveal about Christianity in Pakistan,” he said
Initially, estimates place the cross between 1,000 and 1,200 years old. The University of Baltistan plans to proceed with the research in partnership with European and North American institutions, and local historians, to determine its precise age. If accurate, the dating would establish the ancient presence of Christianity in the Himalayan region This is in a place where Christians are today a sidelined and persecuted minority.
The site, near the village of Kavardo, was once on the “Silk Road” trade route that connected China and Pakistan. The research team noted that the way the cross has been carved is similar to traditional Buddhist carving. This suggests that the Christians who made the 1,000 year old cross may have been converts. This area of which is now northern Pakistan used to have both Buddhist and Christian communities long ago.
Christianity brought by merchants
According to experts of the Byzantine history, Béatrice Caseau, the cross is a proof that merchants from the Middle East brought Christianity to this mountainous region. The Sorbonne historian stated, “Even if we lack the sources to know with certainty where they passed, we know that Christians from the Persian world, using the Syriac language, came to the Indus region between the fifth and eighth centuries, until the arrival of Islam.”
Evidences of Christians from the Ancient Church of the East, dating from the seventh century, have been discovered in China. Also, cultural exchanges, including religion, would have taken place throughout the region.