A lost city thought to be more than 1,000 years old has been discovered in Ethiopia and may offer insight into Islam’s origins in the country.
The settlement, located near Ethiopia’s second largest city of Dire Dawa, in the east of the country, consisted of buildings constructed with large stone blocks, which gave rise to a local myth that giants lived there. Researchers believe it may date back as early as the 10th century.
Archaeologists discovered a 12th-century mosque in the settlement at Harlaa, as well as evidence of Islamic burials and headstones. The team, from the University of Exeter and the Ethiopian Authority for Research and Conservation of Cultural Heritage, also found artifacts from as far afield as India and China, suggesting that the region functioned as a hub for foreign traders.
Prophet Muhammad died in the mid-seventh century, and Islam is thought to have spread to the East African coastline sometime in the eighth century. But an earlier tradition holds that the Prophet Muhammad sent some of his first followers to Abyssinia—modern day Ethiopia—in the early seventh century.