An ancient manor and a mosque were recently discovered by Israel Antiquities Authority archeologists in the southern city of Rahat.
The governmental organization said the findings reveal new information about the transition period between the Christian and Islamic rule over the Land of Israel throughout the 7th-9th centuries.
Researchers also said they found evidence of both Muslim and Christian settlements in close proximity to the mosque.
"We uncovered a farmhouse from the Byzantine era where Christian farmers probably lived, it also had a fortified tower and rooms with sturdy walls surrounding a courtyard," the archaeologists said.
"On an adjacent hill, we found estates built in a completely different manner: They were built several hundred years later, between the 8th-9th centuries — the early Muslim era. The estates, which were probably settled by Muslims, were built as a column of rooms, and adjacent to them was a large and open courtyard. In the houses and yards, there were many pottery ovens which were likely used to cook food."
Researchers could infer the identity of the site's ancient dwellers thanks to a mosque that was discovered nearby in 2019. The mosque was built about 400 meters south of the estate, surrounded by a central courtyard.
"The evidence we've collected up until now throughout the whole excavation area… sheds light on the beginning of the historic process that took place in the northern Negev with the introduction of a new religion — Islam, a new sovereign and culture — to Israel," the Antiquities Authority statement read. "They gradually established their grasp here, and inherited it from the Byzantines and the Christian religion that ruled over the Land of Israel for hundreds of years."
Antiquities Authority Director-General Eli Eskosido said that cooperation with the locals in Rahat allows them to incorporate together antiquity and modernity in the development of their city.