Islamic inscription confirms ancient ties with Vikings

Islamic inscription confirms ancient ties with Vikings

BRUSSELS - Anadolu Agency
Islamic inscription confirms ancient ties with Vikings

The discovery of an Islamic inscription on a ring inside a Viking coffin has confirmed ancient tales about contact between Viking-era peoples in Scandinavia and the Islamic world.

The silver ring, recovered from a wooden coffin containing the skeleton of a female buried around 850 A.D., was originally found during the excavation of graves between 1872 and 1895 at the Viking-era trading center of Birka on Björkö Island near Stockholm.

But scientists using a scanning electron microscope only recently discovered the Arabic inscription “Inshallah” was inscribed on the ring, Swedish media has reported.

Sebastian Wärmländer, biophysicist of Stockholm University, told Discovery News, “It’s the only ring with an Arabic inscription found in Scandinavia. We have a few other Arabic-style rings, but without inscriptions.”

Wärmländer wrote in the journal Scanning after their discovery in February, “Our analysis shows that the studied ring consists of a high quality (94.5 percent) non-gilded silver alloy, set with a stone of colored soda-lime glass with an Arabic inscription reading some version of the word ‘Allah.’”

Direct interaction

Swedish researchers interpreted the inscription on the ring, which featured a pink-violet colored stone, as “il-la-lah” meaning “For/To Allah.” However, alternative interpretations say the letters could also be read as “INs…LLH” meaning “Inshallah” (God-willing). The discovery provides evidence of direct interaction between Vikings and Islamic countries, according to the researchers.

“The Viking sagas and chronicles tell us of Viking expeditions to the Black and Caspian Seas and beyond, but we don’t know what fact is and what is fiction in these stories,” Wärmländer said. “The mint condition of the ring corroborates ancient tales about direct contact between Viking-age Scandinavia and the Islamic world,” he said.

The ring is part of the Swedish History Museum’s collection.