September 30, 2005

Burnt offerings

My garden-path sentence of the week was in a NYT article by Michael Slackman: "Ever Since A.D. 270, the Need to Get Away From It All". It's about how some 4th-century monk's cells were discovered in Zafarana, Egypt, beneath an 8th-century church beneath a 15th-century church.

"This was a complete surprise," Father Maximous said pointing at the monastic cells.

In the corner of one is a brick stove that was used for cooking. Another was used for prayer. The cells told a story of monks who lived together, with several people in one cell. There was also a basin that was used to soak palm fronds, which they used for weaving things like mats and baskets.

How, I wondered briefly, did those monks use a stove for prayer?

Posted by Mark Liberman at September 30, 2005 09:09 AM