Archaeologists uncovered part of the ancient city of Harlaa, dating back to 10th century AD, located in in eastern Ethiopia.
The city dates back to 10th century AD, and was an important centre with historic connections between different Islamic communities in Africa. Archaeologists discovered a 12th century mosque which is similar to those found in Tanzania and Somaliland. The researchers also found jewellery and other artefacts from Madagascar, the Maldives, Yemen and China. Archaeologists believe that the residents of Harlaa were a mixed community of foreigners and local people who traded with others in the Red Sea, Indian Ocean and possibly as far away as the Arabian Gulf.
The presence of the mosque is linked to the expanse of Islam into Africa after early Muslim disciples fled persecution in Mecca in 7th century. The main seat of Islamic learning in Ethiopia was Harar, which is located near Harlaa. However, Coptic Christianity was introduced from Egypt and was adopted as the religion of the Kingdom of Aksum as early as 333 AD. The Ethiopian church maintains that the Old Testament figure of the Queen of Sheba travelled from Aksum in northern Ethiopia to visit King Solomon in Jerusalem.
(after BBC News, Tim Insoll & University of Exeter)