A new discovery in Yemen may prove that a Christian church existed there and influenced Mecca around the time of the prophet Muhammad, the Daily Mail reports. Paul Yule, an archaeologist from Germany, found the stone carving of a Christian figure in the city of Zafar and dated it to about 530AD. He says evidence from other sites in Zafar indicate that it was home to a vast Arab tribal confederation that ruled even Mecca, about 581 miles to the north.
The multicultural confederation—home to Arabs, Jews, and Christians—flourished between the 3rd and 5th centuries and managed the influential port of Aden in southern Yemen, says Yule. But tensions over the advance of Christianity led Arab kings to attack a Christian colony in the Saudi Arabian city of Najran—sparking a holy war with Byzantines and Africans that ended with the triumph of Islam in the 7th century, reports Der Spiegel. As for the stone figure, Yule says it probably depicts a descendant of Africans who arrived in 525AD to spread Christianity.