First, this... from the Yehuda Nevo archeological researches...
http://debate.org.uk/topics/history/bib-qur/qurarch.htm" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
http://www.godlesshaven.com/articles/mu ... dence.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;--Nevo has found in the Arab religious texts, dating from the first century and a half of Arab rule (seventh to eighth century A.D.),
a monotheistic creed. However, he contends that this creed "is demonstrably not Islam, but [a creed] from which Islam could
have developed." (Nevo 1994:109)
(**Note: the creed was rather Samaritan (see: viewtopic.php?p=167769#p167769" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; ).
--Nevo also found that "in all the Arab religious institutions during the Sufyani period [661-684 A.D.] there is a complete absence
of any reference to Muhammad." (Nevo 1994:109) In fact neither the name Muhammad itself nor any Muhammadan formulae (that
he is the prophet of God) appears in any inscription dated before the year 691 A.D.. This is true whether the main purpose of the
inscription is religious, such as in supplications, or whether it was used as a commemorative inscription, though including a
religious emphasis, such as the inscription at the dam near the town of Ta'if, built by the Caliph Mu'awiya in the 660s A.D.
--His name is only found on the Arab inscriptions after 690 A.D. (Nevo 1994:109-110).... the first dated occurrence of the phrase
Muhammad rasul Allah (Muhammad is the prophet of God) is found on an Arab-Sassanian coin of Xalid b. Abdallah from the year
690 A.D., which was struck in Damascus (Nevo 1994:110).
(**Note: more precisely of 686 as we'll see later... It wasn't Umayyad)
--Of greater significance, the first occurrence of what Nevo calls the "Triple Confession of Faith," including the Tawhid (that God
is one), the phrase, Muhammad rasul Allah (that Muhammad is his prophet), and the human nature of Jesus (rasul Allah wa-abduhu),
is found in Abd al-Malik's inscription in the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, dated 691 A.D. (Nevo 1994:110)! Before this inscription
the Muslim confession of faith cannot be attested at all.
(**See on the Dome's datation: viewtopic.php?p=94306#p94306" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; )
--According to Nevo, the first Arabic papyrus, an Egyptian entaqion, which was a receipt for taxes paid, dated 642 A.D. and
written in both Greek and Arabic is headed by the "Basmala," yet it is neither Christian nor Muslim in character (Nevo 1994:110).
(**See the works of the late archeologist Father Michelle Picirillo on the 'bismalla' in Madaba (found in Ex.34.6; Ps.103.8).
--The religious content within the rock inscriptions do not become pronounced until after 661 A.D. However, though they bear
religious texts, they never mention the prophet or the Muhammadan formulae (Nevo 1994:110). "This means," Nevo says, "that
the official Arab religious confession did not include Muhammad or Muhammadan formulae in its repertoire of set phrases at this
time," a full 30-60 years and more after the death of Muhammad (Nevo 1994:110).
--Of even greater significance, these inscriptions show that when the Muhammadan formulae is introduced, during the Marwanid
period (after 684 A.D.), it is carried out "almost overnight" (Nevo 1994:110). Suddenly it became the state's only form of official
religious declaration, and was used exclusively in formal documents and inscriptions, such as the papyrus "protocols".
--Yet even after the Muhammadan texts became official, they were not accepted by the public quite so promptly. For years after
their appearance in state declarations, people continued to include non-Muhammadan legends in personal inscriptions, as well as
routine chancery writings (Nevo 1994:114).
--In fact, according to Nevo, Muhammadan formulae only began to be used in the popular rock inscriptions of the central Negev
around 30 years (or one generation) after its introduction by Abd al-Malik, sometime during the reign of Caliph Hisham (between
724-743 A.D.). And even these, according to Nevo, though they are Muhammadan, are not Muslim. The Muslim texts, he believes,
only begin to appear at the beginning of the ninth century (around 822 A.D.), coinciding with the first written Qur'ans, as well as
the first written traditional Muslim accounts (Nevo 1994:115).
(**The introduction of a paper mill in Baghdad around 800AD greatly helped).
--Thus, it seems from these inscriptions that it was during the later Marwanid period (after 684 A.D.), and not during the life of
Muhammad that he was elevated to the position of a universal prophet, and that even then, the Muhammadan formula which was
introduced was still not equivalent with that which we have today.
(**This period corresponds to the much intriguing 2nd civil war led by Ibn al-Zubayr).
Thanks to countless books, films, articles, and other elements, more and more people have started to realize that there is little to
no historical evidence in support of this man who supposedly made such a huge impact in his day. Muslims often claim, or seem to
believe, that their prophet Muhammad is on more solid historical grounding than Jesus, yet most of the time, the conversation
seems to progress no further. Muhammad's existence is simply accepted as a fact that has been so well established that clarification
is assumed to be unnecessary. Indeed, many Muslim scholars and academics today will allege that Muhammad's life is better
documented than the life of Christ, but when we push it beyond their simple assurance, will we find that this is correct?
III. The Earliest Artifacts
Aside from writings, the earliest artifact discovered with the name Muhammad is an Arab-Sassanian coin dating to about 685 AD ,
nearly 50 years after the death of Islam's prophet. This may seem like ample evidence to some that Muhammad was in fact a historical
figure, but it is quite interesting to note how earlier Arab-Sassanian coins invoked Allah with no mention of Muhammad whatsoever
(click the link at the very bottom of the third source to see other coins from the early history of Islam). Some Islamic scholars like M.
Sven Kalisch, Gerd-R Puin and Patricia Crone have noted the presence of Christian and Gnostic influence in early Islam too, noting that:
"there also exist coins found in Palestine, probably minted in Amman, on which the word "Muhammed" is found in Arabic script on one side,
and a picture of a man holding a cross on the other." 
Other connections between the religions can be contemplated as well, such as the similarity between Moses' exodus out of Egypt under
threat of persecution and Muhammad's exodus out of Mecca to Medina, also under threat of persecution. Moses is the name listed most in
the Qur'an too, with over 25 times the measly four references made to Muhammad in the text. Even the name Muhammad has been
suggested as a title and not a name, since it literally means 'praiseworthy'. This is, of course, fascinatingly similar to the idea that Christ
was also a title meaning 'messiah' or 'anointed one'. While these are mainly speculations with little solid evidence, they do lend credence
to the possibility that Muhammad is, like Jesus, an allegorical character who developed from inspiration taken from other myths and faiths.
Finally, Jeremy Johns: Archaeology and the first seventy years...
http://www.krc.ox.ac.uk/Publications/Je ... hns%202003(a" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;).pdf
So the first Islamic mentions of Muhammad as the 'Messenger of God' never emerged with the mainstream Umayyads,From as early as 22/643, coins, papyri, building inscriptions, tombstones, travelers' graffiti, and possibly (but probably not) a tiraz silk,
were written bism Allah (In the name of God), and some were dated according to a new calendar corresponding to the era of the hijra....
none of these early religious writings mentions either the Prophet Muhammad or his religion, Islam. Thus, for example, the earliest
tombstone of a Muslim, dated 31/651-2, from Egypt (), makes no reference to the Prophet, an omission that almost never occurs after
72/691-2 (el-Hawary 1930; Hoyland 1997: 689, n. 5). The first clear and detailed proclamation of Islam andof the role of Muhammad is
in the inscriptions of the Dome of the Rock, built by Abd al-Malik b. Marwan (65-86/685-705) and dated 72/691-2.5
This marks a watershed, and immediately thereafter religious declarations become common, and only exceptionally do religious inscriptions
fail to mention the Prophet. And yet, even before the reign of Abd al-Malik, non-Muslim observers already perceived the Arabs to constitute
a distinct religious community with Muhammad as its leader (Hoyland 1997: 549).6 The problem is therefore how to account for the absence
of Islam and the Prophet from the archaeological record....
It is not just that coins, documents, and inscriptions are so scarce. Not one single public monument built under the conquerors has yet
been found that can be securely dated before the reign of Abd al-Malik. The earliest religious building is the Dome of the Rock itself, and
a century of increasingly intensive archaeological excavation and survey has found no mosque that can be shown to be earlier. In the first
half of the eighth century, mosques suddenly abound.....
In 66/685-6, the year after Abd al-Malik's accession (Ramadan 65/April-May 685), the Zubayrid governor of BÂshapâr, Abd al-Malik b. Abd
Allah [b. amir], issued a silver drachm () that bore the so-called short shahada—bism Allah Muhammad rasul Allah (In the name of God,
Muhammad is the messenger of God). The issue was repeated in 67/686-7. In 72/691-2, the Zubayrid governor of Sistan, Abd al-Aziz b.
Abd Allah, struck a unique drachm with a version of the long shahada in Middle Persian () No Umayyad coin had previously borne any
religious declaration except the basmala, but the first gold and silver coins struck in Syria by Abd al-Malik, and the first silver issues by
his governors in Iraq, all carried one version or other of the shahada (). It seems highly probable, therefore, that the Marwanids learnt
from their opponents to use the coinage in this way ()....
In the context of Marwanid state formation, it is the inscription (Dome of the Rock) on the outer facade that is of greater interest.
Here, it is the figure of Muhammad that dominates. The inscription consists of four unitarian and/or anti-trinitarian verses, punctuated
by invocations to Muhammad. The invocation on the north-east side particularly attracts attention (): ''Muhammad is the messenger of
God. May God bless him and accept his intercession on the day of the resurrection on behalf of his community'' (). It calls upon God to
accept the intercession of Muhammad for the Muslims on the Day of Judgment. The idea is not Quranic, for nowhere in the Quran does
Muhammad appears as an intercessor.... After this appearance in the Dome of the Rock, Muhammad does not again appear in the role
of intercessor for some 150 years. This particular venture was an experiment that failed. Nor was it the only one....
During the Civil War, two Zubayrid governors had already attempted to use the medium of coinage to claim that Muhammad fought on their
side. After their victory, the Marwanids used all available state media to broadcast their counter-claim to the Prophet. But, in giving such
new prominence to Muhammad, the Marwanids forged new weapons for their opponents—not only for those who claimed descent from
Muhammad but, ultimately, also for those who sought to interpose the figure of the Prophet between the caliph and God (Crone/Hinds).
but rather from a fringed group led by the defeated al-Zubayr. After Abd al-Malik, it was left over for a long 150 years!
But the road laid wide open for the future Abbasids to capitalize on this furthermore, up to overthrowing the Umayyads.
Food for thought indeed !!!