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Europe's Oldest Muslim Graves Found in France

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Three Muslim tombs dating from VII century have been discovered by a team of French researchers. This remains the oldest evidence of the presence of...

Three Muslim tombs dating from VII century have been discovered by a team of French researchers. This remains the oldest evidence of the presence of Islam in France.

The three skeletons were found to be facing Mecca, have paternal lineage to North America, and have been dated to the same period that it is believed Muslim presence was first identified in the region.

Research published in PLOS ONE, focusses on a medieval burial site in Nimes, south of France, showing three individuals that the scientists believe were part of the Berbers – a North African ethnic group. If so, this will be the earliest indication of Muslim establishment, almost 600 years earlier than the previously known communities.

"These results clearly highlight the complexity of the relationship between communities during this period, far from the cliché depiction still found in some history books", the researchers write.

After that realisation, it did not take long for the researchers to realise that the skeletons were pointing south-east toward Mecca, Saudi Arabia.

In Europe, the discovery did not pass unnoticed. Like other newspapers, popular British Daily Mail questions:"Did Islam already reach France one thousand and three hundred years ago ?" It reminds also that the religion was born one thousand and four hundred years ago "in small Middle East communities", before it broadened into a large empire within less than a century.

"Because the data support a North African paternal ancestry of the three individuals from the graves, we believe that they were Berbers integrated into the Arab army during its rapid expansion through North Africa," the authors say. "We suggest that the graves discussed in this study can provide further insight into the nature of this Muslim presence."

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