Were Vikings influenced by ISLAM? Arabic embroidery bearing the name ‘Allah’ is uncovered on 10th Century Norse burial clothes (LOL….)

  • Researchers from Uppsala University in Sweden made the discovery
  • They were working to recreate patterns found in Viking woven bands
  • Instead of traditional Viking patterns they found ancient Arabic Kufic script 
  • This may suggest similarities between the two cultures’ views of the afterlife

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Burial costumes from Viking boat graves have provided more evidence of contact between Nordic tribes and ancient Islam.

A study of the garments, found in 9th and 10th century graves, has revealed the presence of Arabic script invoking Allah.

The presence of Islamic artefacts at Viking sites was once explained as evidence of looting and trade, but new finds continue to reveal closer links between the cultures.

Researchers believe the latest discovery points to similarities between the Viking and Muslim view of the afterlife.

Burial costumes from Viking boat graves have provided more evidence of contact between Nordic tribes and ancient Islam. Analysis of the garments, found in ninth and tenth century graves, revealed the presence of Arabic script invoking Allah

Burial costumes from Viking boat graves have provided more evidence of contact between Nordic tribes and ancient Islam. Analysis of the garments, found in ninth and tenth century graves, revealed the presence of Arabic script invoking Allah

SILK BURIAL CLOTHES

In her earlier research, Annika Larsson looked at the widespread occurrence of Eastern silk in Scandinavia’s Viking Age graves.

In the Valsgärde boat graves, just north of the key early Iron Age site Gamla Uppsala, silk is found in the clothing of those buried far more often than wool and linen.

Analyses of materials, weaving techniques and design suggest ancient Persian and Central Asian origins.

‘Grave goods such as beautiful clothing, finely sewn in exotic fabrics, hardly reflect the deceased’s everyday life, just as little as the formal attire of our era reflects our own daily lives,’ said Ms Larsson.

‘The rich material of grave goods should rather be seen as tangible expressions of underlying values.

Experts from Uppsala University in Sweden made the discovery after working to recreate textile patterns found in Viking woven bands.

They found that the objects, used as inspiration for a Viking Couture exhibit at Enköping Museum, contained Kufic characters, rather than traditional Viking patterns as had been assumed.

As well as Allah, Ali, the cousin and son-in-law of Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, is also mentioned in the text.

Kufic characters were commonly found during the Viking Age in mosaics on burial monuments and mausoleums, primarily in Central Asia.

Similar text was found on the woven bands, which were part of grave costumes uncovered inside both chamber graves, in sites such as Birka in Mälardalen, and in boatgraves in the Gamla Uppsala area.

Annika Larsson, researcher in textile archaeology at the Department of Archaeology and Ancient History at Uppsala University, said: ‘It is a staggering thought that the bands, just like the costumes, was made west of the Muslim heartland.

‘That we so often maintain that Eastern objects in Viking Age graves could only be the result of plundering and eastward trade doesn’t hold up as an explanatory model

‘The inscriptions appear in typical Viking Age clothing that have their counterparts in preserved images of Valkyries.

‘Presumably, Viking Age burial customs were influenced by Islam and the idea of an eternal life in Paradise after death.’

In her earlier research, Ms Larsson looked at the widespread occurrence of Eastern silk in Scandinavia’s Viking Age graves.

Researchers from Uppsala University in Sweden working to recreate textile patterns found in Viking woven bands made the discovery. They found that the objects, being used as the inspiration for a Viking Couture exhibit at Enköping Museum, contained Kufic characters

Researchers from Uppsala University in Sweden working to recreate textile patterns found in Viking woven bands made the discovery. They found that the objects, being used as the inspiration for a Viking Couture exhibit at Enköping Museum, contained Kufic characters

Kufic is the oldest calligraphic form of the various Arabic scripts, developed around the end of the 7th Century in Kufa, Iraq, from which it takes its name
This geometric example reads baraka Muhammad, or blessed be Muhammad

Kufic (left) is the oldest calligraphic form of the various Arabic scripts, developed around the end of the 7th Century in Kufa, Iraq, from which it takes its name. The geometric example (right) reads baraka Muhammad, or blessed be Muhammad

VIKING AND ISLAMIC TRADE

The Scandinavians are known to have traded glass objects from Egypt and Mesopotamia up to 3,400 years ago.

It is also possible that the Vikings fetched glass goods directly from the region, rather than waiting for them to make their way north via trade networks.

Ancient texts mention trades taking place between the Vikings and members of the Islamic civilisation, which stretched from the Mediterranean to West Asia.

Viking expeditions are said to have extended from Western Europe to Central Asia.

It is from here that sources indicate the extent to which the Vikings had contact with the Muslim World during ancient times.

Though the Vikings had sacked several cities in Western and Eastern Europe, historians outline that it was in Muslim ruled lands, that the Vikings found ’emporiums beyond their wildest dreams’, according to Muslim Heritage.

Historians in Baghdad and other regions of the Muslim world gave the Vikings a reputation of being ‘merchant warriors whose primary focus was on trades.’

However, writers in Al-Andalus in Muslim Spain were of a different opinion, due to frequent attacks reportedly perpetrated by the Vikings in the region.

In the Valsgärde boat graves, just north of the key early Iron Age site Gamla Uppsala, silk is found in the clothing of those buried far more often than wool and linen.

Analyses of materials, weaving techniques and design suggest ancient Persian and Central Asian origins.

‘Grave goods such as beautiful clothing, finely sewn in exotic fabrics, hardly reflect the deceased’s everyday life, just as little as the formal attire of our era reflects our own daily lives,’ she added.

‘The rich material of grave goods should rather be seen as tangible expressions of underlying values.

Kufic characters were found during the Viking Age in mosaics on burial monuments and mausoleums in Central Asia. Similar text has now been found on grave costumes uncovered inside chamber graves at sites such as Birka as well as in boatgraves in the Gamla Uppsala area

Kufic characters were found during the Viking Age in mosaics on burial monuments and mausoleums in Central Asia. Similar text has now been found on grave costumes uncovered inside chamber graves at sites such as Birka as well as in boatgraves in the Gamla Uppsala area

‘In the Quran, it is written that the inhabitants of Paradise will wear garments of silk, which along with the text band’s inscriptions may explain the widespread occurrence of silk in Viking Age graves.

‘The findings are equally prevalent in both men’s and women’s graves.’

This is not the first time that a Viking artefact with links to Islam has been unearthed.

A ring, made over 1,000 years ago, confirmed contact between the Vikings and the ancient Muslim world.

Unearthed in Sweden in 2015, it bears an ancient Arabic inscription that reads ‘for Allah’ or ‘to Allah’.

Annika Larsson and her colleagues have received a positive response among the academic community.

This ring,  made over 1,000 years ago, confirmed contact between the Vikings and the Islamic world. Unearthed in Sweden in 2015, it bears an ancient Arabic inscription that reads 'for Allah' or 'to Allah'

This ring, made over 1,000 years ago, confirmed contact between the Vikings and the Islamic world. Unearthed in Sweden in 2015, it bears an ancient Arabic inscription that reads ‘for Allah’ or ‘to Allah’

But Finnish national broadcaster Yle reports that the link has upset some in Scandinavia who taken pride in their Viking ancestry.

Speaking to Yle, Ms Larrson said: ‘The negative reactions have come from xenophobes, without any exceptions.

‘It’s the Muslim connection that they find particularly disturbing.’

Viking runes and imagery are widely used by anti-immigration activists and parties, including the controversial pan-Nordic far-right group Nordic Resistance Movement (NRM).

The NRM recently staged a demonstration in the city of Gothenburg, which resulted in a mass brawl.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-4972808/Arabic-text-Allah-uncovered-Viking-burial-clothing.html#ixzz4vM5GnTMZ
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