Mosque in early Islamic period discovered in Saudi Arabia

Al-Kharj, Saudi Arabia: An 18-member archeological excavation team has discovered at the Yamamah site in Al-Kharj near Riyadh many architectural antiquities of a huge mosque that existed in the early Islamic era in between first and fifth century Hijri.

The team is comprised of Saudi and French scientists and experts. The mosque consisted of three roofed halls, two mihrabs, and open body hall. There are indicators that it could be the third biggest mosque in the Arabian Peninsula after the Two Holy Mosques.

The archeological survey also covered Bana settlement in addition to five other Islamic sites distributed on many areas located between Riyadh and Wadi al-Dawasir, Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper reported. Results of exploration process have shown many sites that refer to the Old Stone Age for the first time in this region. Fractions of old pottery and glassy utensils were also discovered.

These utensils are likely to be from the Abbasside era and may have been used in the last phase before Islam and till the fifth century Hijri. Researchers found antiquities that refer to early Islam like pottery utensils and a bunch of bracelets made of glass paste.

At Ain al-Delai site in the western side of Kharj, archeologists have found 5,000-year-old traces of human settlement that may refer to the first millennium B.C., in addition to a 56-centimeter-long silver sword.

The team also discovered a number of old farms and architectural establishments that go back to the fifth century Hijri. The archeologists moved to the mountains surrounding Al-Kharj to implement a filed survey for sites from the Stone Age. The area included Mawan Valley and Ain Farzan, where they discovered sites that refer to the Old Stone Age.

The mission will continue its work this year looking for sites from the Bronze Age in Ain Al-Delai region to complete the work that begun in 2013, along with the excavation process in the newly discovered mosque. The Saudi-French mission is working according to the agreement inked between the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage and the French authorities in September 2011.

From his side, Riyadh Governor Prince Faisal bin Bandar recently met with the Saudi-French team which is carrying out the archeological excavation at the Yamamah historical site in Al-Kharj. He praised the efforts of the mission aimed at offering the Saudi people the opportunity to learn more about their country’s heritage and the old civilizations that settled in it before them.

Dr. Abdulaziz Al-Ghazi, professor of archeology at King Saud University and head of the Saudi team in the mission, considered that this mission is the first-of-its-kind in the country and that its work will continue over the next five years, which will pave way to the discovery of more sites.


—Courtesy “MM”