• France's news in English
 
app_header_v3
Europe's 'oldest' Muslim graves unearthed in France
Photo: PLOS ONE

Europe's 'oldest' Muslim graves unearthed in France

AFP · 25 Feb 2016, 10:10

Published: 25 Feb 2016 10:10 GMT+01:00

The skeletons at a medieval site at Nimes were found facing Mecca, and a genetic analysis showed their paternal lineage was North African, said the study in the journal PLOS ONE.
   
Furthermore, radiocarbon dating shows the bones likely date from the 7th to 9th centuries, suggesting they came from the Muslim conquests of Europe during that period.
   
"We believe that they were Berbers integrated into the Arab army during its rapid expansion through North Africa," said the study.
   
The findings add a new dimension to knowledge of the era, which had been limited to history books and rare bits of archaeological data.
   
"We knew that Muslims came to France in the eighth century but until now we did not have any material evidence of their passage," Yves Gleize, an anthropologist with the French National Institute for Preventive Archaeological Research (Inrap) and lead author of the study, told AFP.
 
  
The graves were first discovered in 2006 near a major roadway in Nimes as construction workers were digging an underground parking garage.
   
A careful analysis in the years since has shown that the men were all laid on their right sides, facing southeast in the direction of Mecca, according to traditional Muslim burial rites.
   
Story continues below…
One was in his 20s when he died, another in his 30s and the third was older than 50. Their bones showed no sign of injury in combat.
   
The three graves were spaced 2.5 metres apart.
   
Another Muslim grave site has been found in Marseille, but it dates to the 13th century. One found in Montpellier may date to the 12th century.

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Malkovich and Le Monde go to battle in French court

John Malkovich took French daily Le Monde and two of its journalists to court Friday for defamation over a report alleging the US actor had a secret Swiss bank account.

British expats take steps to secure their futures in France
Photo: Oli Bac/Flickr

Brits in France are not waiting around for their politicians to ease their worries, they are taking matters into their own hands to secure their future in the country, which is clouded in uncertainty.

How gay friendly is gay Paris?
The 2014 Gay Pride parade in Paris. Photo: AFP

The French capital is sometimes called "gay Paris", and to mark Saturday's Gay Pride March, we take a look at just how gay friendly the city is.

French drivers 'getting faster and paying less attention'
All photos: AFP

French motorists' bad habits are getting worse, a new study has found.

Common wine blunders you should really avoid in France
Photo: AFP

Don't be a plonk-er. Learn to negotiate the "winefield" in France.

Ten things you didn't know about gay Paris
Do you know where to find penis-shaped bakery goods in Paris? Photo: Legay Choc/Facebook

IN PICTURES
Britain and France mark 100 years since Battle of Somme
All photos: AFP

It was Britain's bloodiest day of battle ever.

What you need to know about France's ban on plastic bags
Photos: AFP

Plastic bags are banned in France as of today, July 1st, although it’s a little bit more complicated than that.

What does the Paris ban on old cars actually mean?
The ever-busy Rue La Fayette in Paris. All photos: AFP

The ban on old cars, trucks, and motorbikes begins today. Got questions? We've got answers.

The small changes to life in France from July 2016
Fancy some Sunday shopping in Paris? Photo: AFP

It's a new month - and that means changes in France at the shops, at home, and online (plus more). Here's how you'll be affected.

Sponsored Article
Education abroad: How to find an international school
Features
Gay Pride: Here are ten things you didn't know about 'gay Paris'
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Society
Paris Pride parade cut in half and the gay community is angry
Culture
What's on in France: Eleven great things to do in July
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
Paris to honour Ireland's two sets of 'wonderful' fans
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
Politics
When France 'ignored' the result of an EU referendum
New app aims to rid Paris pavements of dog poo
Society
No more plastic bags! See what changes in France from July 2016
National
Mixed reaction from the French as UK votes for Brexit
National
How Brexit could now scupper that dream move to France
Brexit limbo: What happens next for Brits in France?
Gallery
Ten reasons why you should think about becoming French
Analysis & Opinion
Brexit: Life for Brits in France 'will get more complicated'
Culture
20 English words that 'should be banished' from French
National
Best Briehaviour: A guide to French cheese etiquette
Features
And the best city in France for expats to live in is...?
Society
Forget bikes, Paris is set to roll out scooter rentals
National
'We fear for our safety': French police feel the strain
Lifestyle
Why Rennes (and not Paris) is the best city in France for expats to live
National
Why are the French losing appetite for baguettes?
Lifestyle
Naturism booms in France as young eager to ditch clothes
Lifestyle
Is working life better in London or Paris?
National
Dear Americans: Please come to Paris
National
It's official (kind of): French work fewest hours in EU
2,759
jobs available