French archaeologists have unearthed the oldest Muslims burial site, dating back to the eighth century AD near the French city of Nimes. The team of archaeologists discovered three Muslim burials. It is believed to be the first archaeological proof of Islamic presence in Europe.
According to radiocarbon analysis, the skeletons backdates to the 7th to 9th centuries AD.
All three were consigned to a grave with proper Muslim rituals, covered in cloth. They were found facing to the direction of Mecca. One is believed to be in the 20s, another in his 30s and the third one older than 50.
A research published in the journal Plos One proves the medieval presence of the Muslims in the south of France around 720-760 AD.
The Guardian reports that the Muslim graves were first discovered in 2006 during a construction project of underground parking-garage.
One grave has also been found in Marseimulle, dating back to the 13th century. Another was found in Montpellier, dating back to 12th century.
While several other Christian graves were also found with the Muslim remains. Scientist said that Muslims were treated equally with respect. There were no sign of violence on their skeletons.
“Indeed, the discovery of funerary rites faithful to Muslim customs offers evidence indicating the presence of a community that was familiar with and practiced Muslim customs in Nimes during this period,” said the research in a report by RT.
As per the genetic analysis, the skeletons showed their paternal lineage were North Africans.
“Given all of these data, we propose that the skeletons from the Nimes burials belonged to Berbers integrated into the Umayyad army during the Arab expansion in North Africa,” scientists write.
Arabs into the Umayyad Caliphate united the national group, The Berber. The integration converted into multiple Islamic tribes, spreading across the North African region and parts of Europe. In 719 AD, Umayyad troops crossed Pyrenees and took over south of France from the Gothic tribe who were living since 5th century in Nimes.
As per the historic text, the caliphate was forced out of the territory that is modern-day France around 760 AD.