Israeli archaeologists who discovered a 1200-year-old Muslim house marveled at the architecture

The Israel Antiquities Authority made a written statement about the historical structure that was unearthed during the archaeological excavations they conducted in the region before their work on expanding the town of Rahat in the Negev Desert (Negev Desert) in the south of Israel.

According to the statement, a surprise awaited archaeologists in the courtyard of the building discovered in the countryside. Archaeologists found a “unique vaulted complex” above a water cistern carved into the rock three meters deep.

Dated to the early Islamic period (8th-9th centuries AD), the building consists of four wings built around a central courtyard and containing different rooms to meet the needs of the inhabitants.

In one wing of the building, there is a hall with marble and stone floors and decorated with frescoes (wall paintings on wet plaster).

Excavations revealed small fragments of finely painted frescoes in red, yellow, blue and black, and large ovens presumably for cooking in some rooms.

The statement also noted that Oren Shmueli, excavation directors of the Israel Antiquities Authority, Dr. Elena Kogan-Zhavi and Dr. Joint statements of Noé D. Michael were included.

Describing the unearthed structure as a “unique discovery”, the excavation directors shared the following details about the features of the property:  

“We were surprised to discover a complex of stone vaults rising up to 2.5 meters high, 5.5 meters below the courtyard. The vaults were carefully constructed. They probably open up to additional underground complexes that have yet to be discovered.

The biggest surprise we encountered was that under the vaulted rooms there was an opening leading to the cistern carved into the deep rock. Apparently, underground vaults made of stone were built to store foodstuffs to keep them cold. The supporting vaulted structures also enabled the inhabitants to move safely and comfortably underground, protect themselves from the scorching summer heat and drink cold water from the adjacent cistern. Clay oil lamp fragments recovered from the vault floors were used to illuminate the dark rooms and provide evidence that the inhabitants were operating.”

Excavation officials stressed that this luxury property and its “unique underground vaults” point to the high status and wealth of its owners.

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Israeli officials pointed out that thanks to this invention, they could “study construction methods and architectural styles, as well as learn about everyday life in Najaf at the beginning of Islamic rule.”

Eli Eskosido, director of the Israel Antiquities Authority, on the other hand, described the unearthed structure as “perhaps one of the oldest luxury properties ever discovered in the area between two historic mosques.”

Noting that the remains of Islamic buildings were “uncovered by chance and thanks to the interest and excitement of the local people,” Eskosido said that they plan to preserve and exhibit these ruins.

In addition to the Israelis, Arab Bedouins, who are native to the region, live in the Najaf Desert region, which is part of the historical Palestinian lands, located in the south of Israel today.

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