Home / World / Israel mosque find: Archaeologists unearth 1,200-year-old ruins in desert

Israel mosque find: Archaeologists unearth 1,200-year-old ruins in desert



 An ancient mosque found in the Israeli desert

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Getty Images

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The mosque was found in the Israeli Bedouin town of Rahat in the Negev desert
                

One of the world's earliest known mosques, built around 1

,200 years ago, has been discovered by archaeologists in Israel's Negev Desert.

The remains, dating from the 7th or 8th century, were found in the Bedouin town of Rahat

Israel's Antiquities Authority (IAA) says the mosque was unearthed during building work in the area.

 The ruins of a mosque found in Israel

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Israel's Antiquities Authority

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The mosque was found during building work
                

 Muslims pray at the site of an ancient mosque in Israel

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Getty Images

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Muslims pray at the newly discovered remains
                

This is the first known mosque from this period in the area, said the IAA said Mecca and Jerusalem.

Excavation directors Jon Seligman and Shahar said the mosque would be "a rare discovery" anywhere in the world ".

Researchers believe the mosque's congregation were likely to have been local farmers.

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                 <span class= Getty Images

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Shahar Tzur of Israel's Antiquities Authority gives details of the find
                

The building was open-air, rectangular-shaped and had a "Mihrab" – or a prayer niche – facing south toward Mecca, Islam's holiest city.

"These features are evidence of the purpose for which this building was used, many hundred years ago," said Mr Seligman.

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                 <span class= Getty Images

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Yaser Alamor of Israel's Antiquities Authority displays a stone retrieved from the mosque
                

It is one of the first mosques constructed after the arrival of Islam in what is present-day Israel, when the Arabs conquered the then-Byzantine province in 636, according to Gideon Avni, an expert on early Islamic history.

"The discovery of the village and the mosque near is a significant contribution to the study of the history of the country during this turbulent period," he said.

All pictures copyrighted to Getty and Israel's Antiquities Authority [19659037]
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