Middle East and North Africa

Archaeological evidence shatters myth of Muslim tolerance

Ruins of a church in Shivta. Photo credit: Wikipedia

New archaelogical research in a Christian town conquered in the early Islamic period has refuted previous claims that the Muslim conquerors showed tolerance toward Christians.

When archaeologists first uncovered the Byzantine town of Shivta in the Negev desert in 1933, the discovery of a mosque built next to a church led them to assume that Christians had been allowed to live and worship alongside Muslims.

New research has discovered that the mosque was in fact partially constructed out of dismantled building material from the church, which appears to have been deliberately desecrated.

“A step in the main entrance … and another in the mosque was carved with Christian symbols. People entering these structures in the Early Islamic period were actually stepping on them. That’s a clear statement, and not one of coexistence,” stated one of the researchers.