Spanish road workers discover ancient Muslim burial site

Spanish road workers discover ancient Muslim burial site
Workers discovered human remains while widening a road in Tauste, a small town near Zaragoza in northeast Spain.
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Updated 19 November 2020

Spanish road workers discover ancient Muslim burial site

Spanish road workers discover ancient Muslim burial site
  • Archaeologist Rafael Laborda: We have discovered one of the oldest and best-preserved Muslim cemeteries in the Iberian Peninsula
  • Laborda: Even though this was a volatile frontier area, our work indicates that this necropolis belonged to a stable Muslim community that lasted for more than four centuries

LONDON: A Spanish road project has uncovered one of the country’s oldest Islamic-era burial sites, including more than 300 tombs, The Times newspaper reported on Thursday.

The discovery will provide historians with a treasure trove of new information about the eighth-century Islamic presence across the Iberian Peninsula.

Road workers initially came across human remains while working on a road in Tauste, a small municipality near the city of Zaragoza in northeast Spain.

Archaeologists were then called in and teams uncovered more than 300 tombs, some dating as far back as the eighth century.

“We have discovered one of the oldest and best-preserved Muslim cemeteries in the Iberian Peninsula,” said archaeologist Rafael Laborda.

“Even though this was a volatile frontier area, our work indicates that this necropolis belonged to a stable Muslim community that lasted for more than four centuries.”

An Arab campaign to conquer Roman-held North Africa was completed in 698. Soon after, Berber armies were launched across the Strait of Gibraltar in 711, conquering most of the Iberian Peninsula within three years.

Zaragoza was a tumultuous region of warring Christian and Muslim fiefdoms. “This cemetery is at the furthest limit of Islam, and they would have been threatened by Christian kingdoms,” Laborda said.

An initial analysis of the area showed that the Muslim population was larger than previously thought.

DNA analysis will determine the origins of the population and provide clues about the region’s conversion to Islam, archaeologists said.


Thousands killed in Ethiopia’s conflict, Tigray side asserts

Updated 04 December 2020

Thousands killed in Ethiopia’s conflict, Tigray side asserts

Thousands killed in Ethiopia’s conflict, Tigray side asserts
NAIROBI, Kenya: Several thousand combatants have been killed in Ethiopia’s embattled Tigray region, an official with the fugitive regional government has asserted, although claims remain difficult to verify a month after the fighting erupted between Ethiopian and regional forces.
Getachew Reda, a senior adviser to the Tigray leader, in an interview with Tigray TV aired Thursday urged young people and others in the region to “rise and deploy to battle in tens of thousands” days after Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed over the weekend declared victory.
With the leaders of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front on the run in rugged territory, fears of a drawn-out conflict continue. But with communications and transport links still largely severed to the region of 6 million people, it’s difficult to know the situation on the ground, including the extent of popular support for the TPLF and the number of people killed.
“Our capacity to resist ultimately depends on the support we get from our people,” Getachew said. “It is possible to have the scenario where we stop everything and turn all the people into soldiers.”
He didn’t say how many people are actively fighting but said “our army is doing amazing things with limited numbers,” and he claimed there had been tens of thousands of deaths among Ethiopian forces and those from neighboring Eritrea, which the TPLF insists is also involved. Ethiopia’s government denies that.
Getachew also acknowledged casualties on the TPLF side but didn’t say how many.
Ethiopian forces over the weekend announced they had “full control” of the Tigray capital, Mekele, a city of a half-million people. Getachew said their side had made a “strategic withdrawal” from the city to minimize destruction.
It is not clear how many people were killed as Ethiopian forces moved in on Mekele, but the International Committee of the Red Cross over the weekend said the city’s largest hospital had run out of body bags and staff suspended other services to focus on the wounded.
Ethiopian government spokesman Redwan Hussein didn’t immediately respond to a question about the current estimated death toll in the conflict.