…As Israel records hottest day in its history***
The remains of an ancient mosque dating back to the 7th or 8th century were discovered in the Israeli desert, the Israeli Antiquities Authority said on Thursday.
Jon Seligman and Shahar Zur, directors of the excavations disclosed this in Tel Aviv.
The place of worship was uncovered during preparations for a new neighbourhood in the Bedouin town of Rahat in the Negev desert region in southern Israel, according to the press statement.
“A small rural mosque, dated to the 7th to 8th centuries CE, is a rare finding anywhere in the world, especially in the area north of Be’er Sheva, where no similar building has previously been discovered,” directors of the excavations said.
“From this period there are large known mosques in Jerusalem and in Mecca, but here we have evidence of an ancient house of prayer, which seems to have served the farmers, who lived in the area,” they said.
The mosque was a rectangular open-air building containing a Mihrab, or prayer niche, facing south, toward Mecca, according to the excavation directors.
During the excavations, the remains of a farm from the end of the Byzantine period (6th – 7th century), and a small settlement from the beginning of the Islamic period (7th – 8th century) were also found.
“This is one of the earliest mosques known from the beginning of the arrival of Islam in Israel, after the Arab conquest of 636 CE,” according to Prof. Gideon Avni, an Israel Antiquities Authority expert on this period.
It “indicates the processes of cultural and religious change which the country underwent during the transition from the Byzantine to the early Islamic period,” he added.
In the meantime, temperatures in Israel soared to their highest-ever level on Wednesday, the Israel Meteorological Service confirmed on Thursday.
The temperature in Sodom, in the Dead Sea area, reached almost 50 degrees Celsius on Wednesday, according to the Israel Meteorological Service.
During the day, fires broke out in several locations around the country.
A number of people sustained light injuries and about 200 houses were evacuated.
Even in the coastal plain along the Mediterranean, temperatures rose up to 42 degrees.
Humidity was unusually low for the time of year, ranging between 10 and 25 per cent in different parts of the country.
The peak heat of all time was recorded in June 1942, when 54 degrees were recorded in Tirat Zvi in the Beit She’an Valley, but that was before the founding of the state of Israel in 1948.
The Meteorological Service linked the record temperatures to global warming.
The service noted the fact that recent years had seen record-breaking temperatures indicated that global warming affects not only average temperatures but also extreme temperatures.
“Although it is difficult to attribute a single event to climate change, according to the best estimates global warming will continue and, therefore, we expect an increase in the number of extreme heatwaves and a higher probability of breaking additional temperature records,’’ it said in a statement.