This 2014 aerial photo shows the site of the Al-Juma (Friday) Mosque in Tiberias, northern Israel. Archaeologists said recent excavations at the ancient city of Tiberias have discovered the remnants of one of the earliest mosques in the Islamic world. The foundations of the Muslim house of worship date to the late 7th century. (NTEP/ David Silverman and Yuval Nadel via AP)(AP)
This 2014 aerial photo shows the site of the Al-Juma (Friday) Mosque in Tiberias, northern Israel. Archaeologists said recent excavations at the ancient city of Tiberias have discovered the remnants of one of the earliest mosques in the Islamic world. The foundations of the Muslim house of worship date to the late 7th century. (NTEP/ David Silverman and Yuval Nadel via AP)(AP)

Archaeologists in Israel discover remnants of ancient mosque built around 670 AD

This mosque’s foundations, excavated just south of the Sea of Galilee by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, point to its construction roughly a generation after the death of the Prophet Mohammad, making it one of the earliest Muslim houses of worship to be studied by archaeologists.
AP
PUBLISHED ON JAN 30, 2021 12:24 PM IST

Archaeologists in Israel say they have discovered the remnants of an early mosque — believed to date to the earliest decades of Islam — during an excavation in the northern city of Tiberias.

This mosque’s foundations, excavated just south of the Sea of Galilee by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, point to its construction roughly a generation after the death of the Prophet Mohammad, making it one of the earliest Muslim houses of worship to be studied by archaeologists.

“We know about many early mosques that were founded right in the beginning of the Islamic period,” said Katia Cytryn-Silverman, a specialist in Islamic archaeology at Hebrew University who heads the dig. Other mosques dating from around the same time, such as the Prophet's Mosque in Medina, the Great Mosque of Damascus, and Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa mosque, are still in use today and cannot be tampered with by archaeologists.

Cytryn-Silverman said that excavating the Tiberian mosque allows a rare chance to study the architecture of Muslim prayer houses in their infancy and indicates a tolerance for other faiths by early Islamic leaders. She announced the findings this month in a virtual conference.

When the mosque was built around 670 AD, Tiberias had been a Muslim-ruled city for a few decades. Named after Rome’s second emperor around 20 AD, the city was a major center of Jewish life and scholarship for nearly five centuries. Before its conquest by Muslim armies in 635, the Byzantine city was home to one of a constellation of Christian holy sites dotting the Sea of Galilee's shoreline.

Under Muslim rule, Tiberias became a provincial capital in the early Islamic empire and grew in prominence. Early caliphs built palaces on its outskirts along the lake shore. But until recently, little was known about the city’s early Muslim past.

Gideon Avni, chief archaeologist with the Israel Antiquities Authority, who was not involved in the excavation, said the discovery helps resolve a scholarly debate about when mosques began standardizing their design, facing toward Mecca.

“In the archaeological finds, it was very rare to find early mosques,” he said.

Archaeological digs around Tiberias have proceeded in fits and starts for the past century. In recent decades the ancient city has started yielding other monumental buildings from its past, including a sizeable Roman theater overlooking the water and a Byzantine church.

Since early last year, the coronavirus pandemic halted excavations and lush Galilean grasses, herbs and weeds have grown over the ruins. Hebrew University and its partners, the German Protestant Institute of Archaeology, plan to restart the dig in February.

Initial excavations of the site in the 1950s led scholars to believe that the building was a Byzantine marketplace later used as a mosque.

But Cytryn-Silverman's excavations delved deeper beneath the floor. Coins and ceramics nestled among at the base of the crudely crafted foundations helped date them to around 660-680 AD, barely a generation after the city’s capture. The building's dimensions, pillared floor-plan, and qiblah, or prayer niche, closely paralleled other mosques from the period.

Avni said that for a long time, academics weren’t sure what happened to cities in the Levant and Mesopotamia conquered by the Muslims in the early 7th century.

“Earlier opinions said that there was a process of conquest, destruction and devastation,” he said. Today, he said, archaeologists understand that there was a “fairly gradual process, and in Tiberias you see that.”

The first mosque built in the newly conquered city stood cheek by jowl with the local synagogues and the Byzantine church that dominated the skyline. This earliest phase of the mosque was “more humble” than a larger, grander structure that replaced it half a century later, Cytryn-Silverman said.

“At least until the monumental mosque was erected in the 8th century, the church continued being the main building in Tiberias,” she added.

She says this supports the idea that the early Muslim rulers — who governed an overwhelmingly non-Muslim population — adopted a tolerant approach toward other faiths, allowing a "golden age” of coexistence.

“You see that the beginning of the Islamic rule here respected very much the population that was the main population of the city: Christians, Jews, Samaritans,” Cytryn-Silverman said. “They were not in a hurry to make their presence expressed into buildings. They were not destroying others’ houses of prayers, but they were actually fitting themselves into the societies that they now were the leaders of."

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Close
A screenshot from the video showing the lion cub's rescue. (Twitter/@rameshpandeyifs)
A screenshot from the video showing the lion cub's rescue. (Twitter/@rameshpandeyifs)

Forest staff put their lives at risk to free lion cub trapped in net. Watch

By Srimoyee Chowdhury
PUBLISHED ON MAR 06, 2021 01:58 PM IST
The video has been shared by IFS officer Ramesh Pandey.
Close
An image posted by Smriti Irani on Instagram. (Instagram/smritiiraniofficial)
An image posted by Smriti Irani on Instagram. (Instagram/smritiiraniofficial)

Smriti Irani’s message on safety through post with selfies wins Instagram

By Amrita Kohli
PUBLISHED ON MAR 06, 2021 12:35 PM IST
Smriti Irani’s message about wearing a mask and seat belt.
Close
Jamie Lever, Johny Lever and Jesse Lever dancing together. (Instagram/@its_jamielever)
Jamie Lever, Johny Lever and Jesse Lever dancing together. (Instagram/@its_jamielever)

Johny Lever grooves with kids Jamie and Jesse. Netizens love their video

By Srimoyee Chowdhury
PUBLISHED ON MAR 06, 2021 11:31 AM IST
The expressions of the family throughout the dance routine make the video quite entertaining.
Close
Gurdeep Pandher dances on a frozen lake. (Twitter/@GurdeepPandher )
Gurdeep Pandher dances on a frozen lake. (Twitter/@GurdeepPandher )

Man celebrates getting Covid vaccine by doing bhangra on frozen lake in Canada

By Srimoyee Chowdhury
PUBLISHED ON MAR 06, 2021 10:35 AM IST
Gurdeep Pandher’s celebratory bhangra dance routine is bound to make you want to get up and shake a leg too.
Close
The image shows Cam James attempting the trick shot.(Reddit/oddlysatisfying)
The image shows Cam James attempting the trick shot.(Reddit/oddlysatisfying)

Man makes unexpected trick-shot, netizens can’t have enough of his reaction

By Srimoyee Chowdhury
PUBLISHED ON MAR 05, 2021 09:18 PM IST
The perfectly synchronised shot by Cam James is a treat to watch.
Close
The clip has collected over 65,000 upvotes on Reddit. (Reddit)
The clip has collected over 65,000 upvotes on Reddit. (Reddit)

Cat tells hooman exactly how to comfort it, video has people gushing

PUBLISHED ON MAR 05, 2021 09:12 PM IST
The video is collecting several reactions and may make you smile as well.
Close
“Field Notes from a Freshwater Biologist: Avoiding Turtle Disaster!” says the post. (Facebook/FWC Fish and Wildlife Research Institute)
“Field Notes from a Freshwater Biologist: Avoiding Turtle Disaster!” says the post. (Facebook/FWC Fish and Wildlife Research Institute)

Biologist finds something unexpected inside stomach of fish - a live turtle

PUBLISHED ON MAR 05, 2021 08:23 PM IST
A post on Facebook about the find is collecting quite a few reactions.
Close
The image shows the men making ropes out of a saree,(Twitter/@advaita_kala)
The image shows the men making ropes out of a saree,(Twitter/@advaita_kala)

Video shows old saree being turned into rope. ‘Amazing,’ say netizens

By Srimoyee Chowdhury
PUBLISHED ON MAR 05, 2021 05:42 PM IST
People lauded the creative use of an old saree and expressed their appreciation for the concept.
Close
The image shows a ship.(Facebook/@Colin McCallum)
The image shows a ship.(Facebook/@Colin McCallum)

Is that ship ‘floating’ in the sky? Viral picture leaves netizens bamboozled

By Srimoyee Chowdhury
PUBLISHED ON MAR 05, 2021 03:40 PM IST
The picture shows a ship but what makes the photo puzzling is how the ship appears to look like it is floating in the air.
Close
The image shows Farooq Abdullah dancing with Captain Amarinder Singh.(Twitter/@NasirKhuehami)
The image shows Farooq Abdullah dancing with Captain Amarinder Singh.(Twitter/@NasirKhuehami)

Farooq Abdullah shakes a leg with Capt Amarinder Singh at wedding

By Srimoyee Chowdhury
PUBLISHED ON MAR 05, 2021 01:49 PM IST
The clip starts with Abdullah dancing to the song Aaj Kal Tere Mere Pyar Ke Charche from the Shammi Kapoor-starrer Brahmachari.
Close
Officials say four orangutans and five bonobos received COVID-19 injections in January and February.(via REUTERS)
Officials say four orangutans and five bonobos received COVID-19 injections in January and February.(via REUTERS)

Nine great apes receive Covid shots in San Diego zoo

AP
PUBLISHED ON MAR 05, 2021 11:18 AM IST
The vaccinations followed a January outbreak of COVID-19 at the zoo’s Safari Park.
Close
The image shows an elephant named Ngilai and a buffalo named Ivia.(Instagram/@sheldrick wildlife trust)
The image shows an elephant named Ngilai and a buffalo named Ivia.(Instagram/@sheldrick wildlife trust)

Friendship blossoms between an elephant and a buffalo. Watch their video

By Amrita Kohli
PUBLISHED ON MAR 05, 2021 10:29 AM IST
In a post shared on Instagram, Sheldrick Wildlife Trust posted a wonderful video that captures the special bond between these two animals.
Close
Kunal Kemmu's singing will impress you too. (Instagram/Kunal Kemmu)
Kunal Kemmu's singing will impress you too. (Instagram/Kunal Kemmu)

Kunal Kemmu getting impressed by his own singing is all of us who love to sing

By Amrita Kohli
PUBLISHED ON MAR 04, 2021 08:39 PM IST
Kunal Kemmu's post is so relatable.
Close
Rescuers helping Missy get out of the pond. (Facebook/Allegan County Sheriff's Office)
Rescuers helping Missy get out of the pond. (Facebook/Allegan County Sheriff's Office)

Horse named Missy gets stuck in frozen pond. Here’s how she was rescued

PUBLISHED ON MAR 04, 2021 07:54 PM IST
It wasn’t clear how long the horse had been stuck in that situation.
Close
A Thai navy officer swims with a rescued cat on his back. (REUTERS)
A Thai navy officer swims with a rescued cat on his back. (REUTERS)

Purrfect rescue: Thai navy rescues four cats from sinking ship. See pics

Reuters, Bangkok
PUBLISHED ON MAR 04, 2021 05:39 PM IST
A sailor in a life vest swam out to the capsized boat, on which four ginger cats were huddled together on a wooden beam.
Close
SHARE
Story Saved
OPEN APP