Islam North of the Pyrenees

Digs & Discoveries May/June 2016

(Copyright P. Pliskine, INRAP)

In the eighth century A.D., the Umayyad Islamic caliphate conquered the Visigothic Kingdom, which occupied the Iberian Peninsula and southwestern France. The Muslim presence in Spain and Portugal during this period is well documented, but evidence from north of the Pyrenees has been scant. Now archaeologists believe they have found three Muslim burials in Nimes, France, that date to this period. “The presence of Muslim burials suggests the existence of a Muslim community,” says Yves Gleize of the French National Institute of Preventive Archaeological Research.

In accordance with Muslim burial practices, all three bodies were buried on their right sides, facing southeast toward Mecca, and in one case the arrangement of bones suggests that the body was wrapped in a shroud upon burial. Genetic analysis shows that all three individuals had North African paternal ancestry, leading the researchers to conjecture that they were Berber soldiers, who made up a large portion of the Umayyad forces that conquered the Visigoths.

  • Artifacts May/June 2016

    Medieval Spoon Finial

    Read Article
    (© Suffolk County Council)
  • Around the World May/June 2016


    Read Article
    (Peter Trusler, Monash University)
  • Digs & Discoveries May/June 2016

    Dressing for the Ages

    Read Article
    (Courtesy Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology)
  • Features May/June 2016

    An Overlooked Inca Wonder

    Thousands of aligned holes in Peru’s Pisco Valley have attracted the attention of archaeologists

    Read Article
    (American Museum of Natural History)