A team of archaeologists has said that they have discovered remains of one of the world's oldest mosques on the shores of Israel's Sea of Galilee.
Foundations of the mosque, excavated by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, point to its construction roughly a generation after the death of the Prophet Mohammad, thereby making it one of the earliest Muslim worship houses to be studied by archaeologists. Sources claim that any companion of the Prophet Muhammad might have constructed the mosque as early as 635 A.D.
The mosque lies on the outskirts of the northern Israeli city of Tiberias, which overlooks the western shore of the Sea of Galilee.
"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, as quoted by AP.
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 at a virtual conference.
According to Arab news, the Israeli archaeologist team believes that the mosque uncovered in Tiberias was built decades earlier, and perhaps constructed by Shurahbil ibn Hasana, a commander of the army that conquered the area.
"We can't say for certain that this was Shurahbil's but we do have historic sources that say he established a mosque in Tiberias when he conquered it in 635," said Dr. Cytryn-Silverman, as quoted by Arab News.
The oldest known remains of a mosque were found in Wasit, Iraq, which dates back to 703 A.D.