Sunday, May 1, 2011

,000-year-old Islamic cemetery dug up in Xeresa

AROUND 150 skeletons and the remains of a farmstead have been dug up in Xeresa. Along with the bodies and the building, archaeologists have found six silos, a mediaeval rubbish bin, a kiln and several wells.

They believe the site was a ceramics factory, which was in use in around the 10th century. Some of the shards of ceramic they found were in almost perfect condition, and varnished with green dye made from plants.

They include pieces of jars, plates, bottles and even a nearly-intact toy horse typical of the Islamic era in Spain.

The fascinating find - the first of its kind in the La Safor district - was uncovered whilst excavating a site destined for an industrial estate.

It includes a cemetery of some 3,000 square metres, the remains of a pavement and the foundations of three houses.

The way the skeletons were lying immediately suggested to historians working on the dig that they dated back to the Islamic occupation of Spain, since they had been placed on their right-hand sides, the head pointing in the direction of Mecca and with no adornments, as dictated by Muslim burial rites.

Only one of the bodies - that of a female - was wearing a bronze ring on her finger, which suggested she was an 'outsider' to the local community.

The first phase of the necropolis dug up is believed to be around 1,100 years old, whilst the second seems to date from the late 13th and early 14th century.

Here, the bodies are lying face up and some inside what is left of wooden coffins, suggesting the Christian re-conquerors had occupied the area by then.

The high number of bodies concentrated in one area is thought to be the result of various breakouts of plague and pestilence, as well as warlike activity, in the mid-14th century.

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