Archaeologists Uncover 400 Tombs In Ancient Burial Ground

by : Emma Rosemurgey on :
Archaeologists Uncover 400 Tombs In Ancient Burial GroundEl Patiaz Asociacion Cultural

Archaeologists have discovered more than 4,500 bodies across more than 400 tombs in northeastern Spain.

The tombs were part of an Islamic necropolis in an 8th century burial ground, which spans across five acres in Tauste, near Aragon.


Arab forces had conquered the Iberian Peninsula by 711, however Muslim occupation of areas such as Tauste was virtually left out of the history books, despite the area’s cultural association and architectural clues pointing in the direction of Islam.

Archaeologists Uncover 400 Tombs In Ancient Burial GroundEl Patiaz Asociacion Cultural

These Islamic communities lived in the Iberian Peninsula until 1492, when the area was completely regained by Christian kingdoms, however, many of their human remains and unique architecture remained.

During this time, the boundaries between the Christian north and the Islamic south are believed to have shifted significantly, as a result of the changing sovereign authority.


Miriam Pina Pardos, director of the Anthropological Observatory of the Islamic Necropolis of Tauste with the El Patiaz cultural association, told CNN that they first excavated the site in 2010, when they discovered a five-acre necropolis, which was split between two levels.

Archaeologists Uncover 400 Tombs In Ancient Burial GroundEl Patiaz Asociacion Cultural

Carbon dating revealed the necropolis dates back to somewhere between the 8th and 11th century.

Prior to the most recent dig, archaeologists had found 44 skeletons in the necropolis. However, this was just a drop in the iceberg compared to the 4,500 plus bodies that have since been located in the area, after local authorities ordered another excavation.


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Pina Pardos said, ‘It’s rare to do an excavation and to find 400 tombs. It’s amazing’. All the skeletons had been positioned to the right and facing towards Mecca, as per traditional Islamic custom.

It’s thought that the discovery of so many bodies will completely change assumptions that had previously been made about the existence of Muslim settlements in the area.

Archaeologists Uncover 400 Tombs In Ancient Burial GroundEl Patiaz Asociacion Cultural

Eva Gimenez, an archaeologist currently excavating the area with the Paleoymás archaeology firm, explained:


We can see that the Muslim culture and Islamic presence in this area is more important than we thought.

We can see there was a big Muslim population here in Tauste from the beginning of the presence of Muslims in Spain. It is very important – the 400 Muslim tombs shows the people lived here for centuries.

According to El Patiaz, the necropolis serves as proof that Tauste was the home to a stable population of Muslims all those years ago.

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Emma Rosemurgey

Emma Rosemurgey is an NCTJ trained Journalist who started her career by producing The Royal Rosemurgey newspaper in 2004, which kept her family up to date with the goings on of her sleepy north east village. She graduated from the University of Central Lancashire in Preston and started her career in regional newspapers before joining Tyla (formerly Pretty 52) in 2017, and progressing onto UNILAD in 2019.

Topics: Science, Spain


CNN and 1 other
  1. CNN

    Archaeologists in Spain find 400 tombs in ancient Islamic necropolis

  2. El Patiaz

    Islamic necropolis of Tauste in the First Congress of Archeology and Aragon Heritage