Archaeologists Uncover 400 Tombs In Ancient Burial Ground
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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