1,200-Year-Old Mosque Discovered

At the site, an open-air mosque was found, with a prayer niche facing south towards Makkah.

Archaeologists in Israel have discovered the remains of one of the world’s oldest rural mosques, built around the time Islam arrived in the region. The Israel Antiquities Authority estimates that the mosque, uncovered ahead of new construction in the Bedouin town of Rahat in the Negev desert, dates back to the 7th to 8th centuries. There are large mosques known to be from that period in Palestine and in the city of Makkah. But the antiquities authority said that it is rare to find a house of prayer so ancient whose congregation is likely to have been local farmers. Excavated at the site were the remains of an open-air mosque a rectangular building, about the size of a single-car garage, with a prayer niche facing south towards Makkah. “This is one of the earliest mosques known from the beginning of the arrival of Islam in Israel, after the Arab conquest of 636 CE,” said Gideon Avni of the antiquities authority.

An archaeologist gestures as he stands inside the remains of a mosque in the outskirts of the Bedouin town of Rahat. Reuters

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