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Israeli Mosque Fund: Archaeologists excavate 1,200-year-old ruins in the desert



  An old mosque found in the Israeli desert

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Getty Images

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The mosque was found in the Israeli Bedouin city of Rahat in the Negev desert

One of the oldest known mosques in the world, built around 1

,200 years ago, was discovered by archaeologists in the Negev Desert in Israel.

The remains of the 7th or 8th century were found in the Bedouin city of Rahat.

According to the Israeli Antiquities Authority (IAA), the mosque was excavated during construction work in the area.

  The ruins of a mosque found in Israel

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Israel's Antiquities Authority

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The mosque was found during construction

  Muslims worship at the site of an ancient mosque in Israel

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Getty Images

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Muslims worship at the newly discovered remains

According to the IAA, it is the first known mosque from that time in the area to keep up with time in Mecca and Jerusalem.

Exploration Directors Jon Seligman and Shahar Zur said the mosque was "a rare discovery" around the world. "

Researchers believe that the mosque's assembly was probably made up of local peasants.

  Israeli Antiquities Workers Replacing Ancient Mosque

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Getty Images

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Shahar Tzur of the Israeli Antiquities Authority gives details of the find

The building was outdoors, rectangular, and had a "mihrab" – or prayer niche – south toward Mecca, the holiest city in Islam.

"These features are evidence of the purpose for which this building was used hundreds of years ago," said Seligman.

  A worker of the Israeli Antiquities Authority at the site of an old mosque

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Getty Images

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Yaser Alamor of the Israeli Antiquities Authority shows a stone brought from the mosque

It is one of the first mosques built after the arrival of Islam in Israel today, when the Arabs conquered the then Byzantine province in 636, according to Gideon Avni, an expert in early Islamic history.

"The discovery of the village and the mosque in its surroundings is an important contribution to the study of the history of the country in this turbulent time," he said.

All images are copyrighted by Getty and the Israeli Antiquities Authority.


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