Mosque Name: Be’er Karkom - Two Open-Air Mosques

Country: Negev

City: Rural, Negev Highlands

Year of construction (AD): 700-799

Be’er Karkom1 GPS: 30.289766 34.766608

Beer Karkom 2 GPS 30.28913 34.767415

Original Qibla: Unknown

Rebuilt facing Mecca: never


Two open-type mosques were discovered at a large nomadic site in a wide valley, 500 m east of Be’er Karkom (figure 2).3 On a hilltop northeast of the settlement is an arc-shaped building line of large stones, aligned east-west, with a rounded southward-facing mihrab niche in its center (width 0.8 m, depth 1 m). In the middle of the site, near the edge of the wadi, is a rectangle measuring 3.4 x 5.2 m constructed of medium-sized, roughly hewn field stones (figure 3). There is a mihrab niche at a midpoint on the southern side (depth 1 m, width 0.9 m), with a large upright stone (width 0.5 m, height 0.45 m) in its interior wall.

The discovery of two open-type mosques in this settlement can be explained by its size, it being one of the largest sites dating back to the sixth-eighth centuries C.E. in the southern Negev Highlands, and by its proximity to Be’er Karkom, one of the few water sources in the region. We found 58 circular and oval dwellings measuring 3 x 4 to 7 x 8 m, all built from local, roughly hewn field-stones and preserved to a height of 2 to 4 courses (figure 4). Most of the structures still have their entrances intact, facing southeast.

Six mosques, Negev Highlands

Six mosques, Negev Highlands

Chart showing mihrab directions in the Negev

Chart showing mihrab directions in the Negev

Information taken from:

Early Mosques in the Negev Highlands: New Archaeological Evidence on Islamic Penetration of Southern Palestine Author: Gideon Avni Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research, No. 294 (May, 1994), pp. 83-100

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