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Yves Gleize, attached to the International Institute for Preventive Archaeological Research and the University of Bordeaux, has published a study in Plos One together with Fanny Mendisco, from the University of Bordeaux, and other colleagues, in which they talk about the archaeological and genetic analysis of skeletons found in medieval graves found in France, where it is ensured that they could be Muslim.
During the high Middle Ages, the Arab conquest brought about great cultural and socio-political changes throughout the Mediterranean basin, especially in the Iberian Peninsula, although many scholars do not believe that this Muslim expansion was massive beyond the Pyrenees.
The authors of the work aimed to determine whether the skeletons found in three tombs in a medieval site in the Nimes area, in France, may become related to the presence of Muslims in France in the 8th century.
What they did was study different funeral practices that were carried out in the place as well as using different techniques of DNA analysis of the skeletons, with which they managed to determine both their sex and their age.
As they have stated, the burials appear to follow Islamic rites, which includes the position of the body and also the orientation of the head towards Mecca. Several genetic evidences were found that reveal that the paternal lineage could come to show an ancestry originating from North Africa.
Likewise, radiocarbon dating carried out has shown that the skeletons of this burial in Nimes, they are probably between the 7th and 8th centuries.
Taking into account all the data that has been collected, the study authors declare that the skeletons found in these tombs belong to Berbers who had been part of the Umayyad army during the Arab expansion from North Africa in the 8th century.
Although there are a small number of Muslim tombs discovered, many scientists believe that the results obtained by this study may provide some anthropological and archaeological evidence about Muslim communities in the south of France.
Finally, Gleize stressed that after the archaeological, anthropological and genetic analyzes that have been carried out in the three tombs of Nimes, they give clear evidence of burials that are related to the Muslim occupation during the 8th century in the south of France .
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