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Mosque dating back to early years of Islam found in Saudi Arabia

The province of Al-Kharj, which lies around 80 km south of the Saudi capital, tells an important story of Saudi culture and heritage. The Saudi-French Joint Mission for archaeological excavation is continuing its work in a number of sites in the area, namely Al-Yamamah, in order to learn more about its important historical sites.

Mosque dating back to early years of Islam found in Saudi Arabia
The mosque, dated to the early Islamic era, appears to have been the largest in the 
Arabian Peninsula at the time [Credit: AN]
Notably the mission, which includes 18 Saudi and French scholars and experts, discovered a large mosque dating back to the early Islamic era in the area, from the late seventh century to the twelfth century AD. The mosque appears to have been the largest in the Arabian Peninsula at the time, after the Two Holy Mosques. The mission’s exploration also included the Al-Bina, and five other Islamic sites along Wadi Nasah.

Their work has resulted in the discovery of a number of sites dating back to the Stone Age, too, which is the first time that sites from this period (thought to be as much as 100,000 years old) have been discovered in Al-Kharj.

Broken remains of clay and green glassware were found in the area, as well as remains of bracelets made from yellow, red, and blue clay and glass beads. Some remains of gray stone plates were also found, which appear to be parts of lanterns, among other artefacts. These small plates appear to date back to the Abassid Era, or the period just before the start of Islam.

At the site of Ain Al-Dale’a, which is located in the western side of Al-Kharj, remains of human housing units were discovered that are believed to date back 5,000 years, as well as iron dating back to the 1st century BC. A 56-centimeter sword made of bronze was also uncovered.

The Saudi-French Joint Mission is working in accordance with an agreement inked between the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage and their French counterpart, signed on Sept. 21, 2011 to conduct excavations among the sites in Al-Kharj. The French side is lead by Dr. Jeremy Chitikat, while the Saudi team is led by Abdulaziz Al-Hammad.

Dr. Abdulaziz Al-Ghazi, a professor of archaeology and heritage at King Saudi University and chairman of the Saudi team during the first season of the mission’s work, said the mission is the first of its kind in the Middle East in terms of the number of specialists, their qualifications, and their contributions to heritage research and excavation.

Prince Sultan bin Salman, chairman of the Saudi Council for Tourism and National Heritage, expressed his appreciation for the important work that the teams are carrying out in each sites to prepare them for visits from residents and tourists wishing to learn about their historical significance. The excavation work is being carried out in line with the directives of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman, to care for historical sites and promote awareness among citizens about Islamic history in the Kingdom.

Source: Arab News [August 19, 2016]

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