• 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
Is Hollande's last budget target really credible?
Photo: AFP

The president says the budget is "serious" but many would disagree.

China turns to Brittany cows to feed its babies
Photo: AFP

Far east giant provides a boost for Brittany's beleaguered dairy farmers.

France's 'fake tough guy' wobbles in comeback bid
Photo: AFP

The scandals are stacking up for Nicolas Sarkozy just at the wrong time.

Saudi princess 'told guard to kill Paris decorator'
Photo: Eurovizion/Flickr

"You have to kill this dog, he doesn't deserve to live," the princess allegedly said.

Paying for sex in France: Has the new law been effective?

Around 40 sex buyers are caught each month across the whole of France. Does that sound like much?

Only in France: 'Drive slowly - grape juice on the roads'
Photo: Rexness/Flickr

You know you're in France when...

France gives lift off to tough new drone laws
Photo: AFP

Time to crack down on drones, say French lawmakers.

Bienvenue en France: France cuts red tape for UK firms
Photo: AFP

France is ready to roll out the red carpet for UK firms quitting Britain because of Brexit fears.

VIDEO: Is life on a French café terrace really this bad?
Photo: Canal Plus

Bird poo, bums and butts: Is life on les terraces really as bad as this?

'Five terror plots thwarted' on Riviera since Nice attack
A police boat patrols the waters off the beach in Nice during the summer. Photo: AFP

Authorities in Nice say five potentially deadly terror plots on the French Riviera have been foiled since the Bastille Day truck attack in the resort.

Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
Culture
The crazy French writing phrases you can't get your head around
Features
Room for improvement: Paris's matchbox apartments
'Stop telling immigrants to be French and help it happen'
Society
Take the test: How far have you assimilated into French culture?
Lifestyle
Eleven things you should know before moving to Paris
National
France's Marion Cotillard rebuffs rumours of fling with Brad Pitt
National
Eight arrested over links to Nice truck attacker
Features
Why everyone should party in a French chateau at least once
Travel
The Frenchman who hated 'Nazi-Zealand' after four-day hitch-hike fail
Culture
What's on: Ten exciting events across France in September
The 45-million year old underground shells that flavour Champagne
Features
French job speak: All the terms you need to know
'Resilient' Paris now a more appealing city than New York
National
France says it's OK to warn drivers about speed cameras
Meet Honorine, 113, the oldest person in France
Education
Grenoble named France's best city to be a student
Society
New Metro map reveals cheapest pints of beer in Paris
Business & Money
How reliant is the French economy on Paris?
Society
Here's why Parisians want to move to Bordeaux
And the 'best place to spend a weekend in Europe' is… Lyon
Analysis & Opinion
'Muslims in France must be considered ordinary citizens'
Armed guards to ride French trains from October
National
France among Europe's priciest for train travel
2,731
jobs available