Note that the number near the funerary pit is the recording number of the

Note that the number near the funerary pit is the

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Note that the number near the funerary pit is the recording number of the picture. The stones around the burial SP7089 correspond to a roman wall and some stones were reused to close the funerary pit. In at least two cases (SP7080 and SP7089), the burial pit was dug with a lateral niche closed off by slabs or stones ( S1 Fig ). In Muslim burial traditions, this shape corresponds to the typical al-lahd burial as opposed to al-shaqq burials (a single trench) [ 7 8 ]. Burials with identical shapes were recorded in the early Middle Ages in the northwestern Mediterranean area—i.e., Spain (e.g., [ 6 ]), Portugal [ 30 ] and Sicily [ 31 ]—and they have been systematically interpreted as Islamic graves. The funerary practices observed in Nimes, in particular for the position of the body, are very close to those observed in necropolises dated from the Conquest in the Iberian Peninsula [ 32 34 ]. We nevertheless note that if al-lahd burials become more widespread during later periods [ 6 ], they are not encountered in all Muslim cemeteries contemporaneous to Nimes site. For example, the documentation from the site of Plaza del Castillo, a large early medieval Islamic cemetery
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(8th c. A.D.) in Pamplona, rather indicates al-shaqq burials closed by laying down flat slabs [ 32 ]. Interestingly, several observations suggest that the Muslim graves were not isolated or excluded from general funerary space. First, although the three Muslim graves were discovered in an area surrounding the city (outside the borders of the early medieval town), they were found in a distinct rural area situated inside a Roman enclosure (demarcated by stone walls) and between urban poles ( Fig 2 ). Because the Roman walls were still partially visible in the early Middle Ages, we can speculate that this funerary zone was in some way still linked to the city. Moreover, the Muslim graves were not isolated in the area because other early medieval graves were found in the suburb of Nimes, corresponding to a well-known phenomenon in the early Middle Ages [ 35 ]. We also note that graves SP7080 and SP7083 were situated 27 meters south of a medieval access road to Nimes. Finally, we note the possible presence of a Christian grave (SP8138, dated between the 8th and 9th centuries AD, containing a body buried on its back with the head facing west) between the two groups of Muslim graves ( Fig 2 ). The earliest medieval Muslim graves known in France Five human bone fragments from the three graves underwent direct radiocarbon dating ( S2 Table ). The dates obtained, confirmed by two dating labs, cluster tightly and range between the 7th and the 8th centuries AD. These dates suggest that the remains are the earliest medieval Muslim graves known in France, considering the few other Islamic graves reported thus far in southeastern France were dated from the 13th century AD (in Marseille; [ 36 ]) and possibly from the 12th century AD (in Montpellier; [ 37 38 ]).
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