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Europe’s Oldest Mosque May Be Buried Underground in Spain

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Spanish archaeologists have detected parts of a palace and a building that may be the oldest mosques in Europe, Live Science reported. They use a special geomagnetic instrument to reveal walls and other structures still buried underground. “Thanks to this new geomagnetic survey, we have learned that the space encircled by the city’s walls was fully developed and that its population was large enough even to spill beyond the city’s walls,” said Noel Lenski, a professor of classics and history at Yale University. “Just as importantly, this was happening in a period long thought to be characterized by urban decline and demographic collapse.”
Without digging, the researchers used a geomagnetic instrument to reveal walls and other structures still buried underground at Reccopolis, which is in a rural area outside of Madrid. They found that the 1,400-year-old city was far more extensive than the ruins visible at the site today would suggest. “In every space that we were able to survey, we found buildings and streets and passages,” study co-author Michael McCormick, a medieval historian and archaeologist at Harvard University, told Live Science.
The researchers found one large building with a different orientation from all the other buildings on the site, toward Makkah. The floor plan also resembles that of mosques in the Middle East. McCormick says only excavations will be able to confirm that the building is indeed a mosque. But if it is, it could possibly be the oldest remaining mosque in Europe. There are nearly 1.3 million Muslims in Spain, making up 3 percent of the country’s 45 million population. Muslims ruled much of Spain for centuries starting from 711 to 1492. Their last king was defeated by the Catholic king and queen, Ferdinand and Isabella, in 1492.