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Skeletons in France May Represent 8th-Century Arab Expansion

Thursday, February 25, 2016

France Nimes burials BORDEAUX, FRANCE—Three graves unearthed in southern France may reflect an Arab-Islamic presence north of the Pyrenees during the early Middle Ages. Yves Gleize of the French National Institute of Preventive Archaeological Research and the University of Bordeaux, and Fanny Mendisco of the University of Bordeaux, examined three medieval graves in Nimes, France. The position of the bodies and the orientation of the heads towards Mecca appear to follow Islamic rites, and genetic testing of the remains suggests North African ancestry in the paternal line. Radiocarbon testing dates the skeletons to between the seventh and ninth centuries. “The joint archaeological, anthropological, and genetic analysis of three early medieval graves at Nimes provides evidence of burials linked with Muslim occupation during the eighth century in the south of France,” Gleize explained in a press release. For more on French archaeology, go to "Tomb of a Highborn Celt," one of ARCHAEOLOGY's Top 10 Discoveries of 2015.

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