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Published: 14 October 2017

By Andy Ross

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Vikings and Islam

A recent discovery has been made which sheds much more light on a fascinating topic - the extensive trade between the Vikings and the Islamic world. 

Researchers at the University of Uppsala have been looking at burial artefacts including clothing that has been in storage for more than a century. Originally thought of as ordinary Viking funeral clothing, Annika Larsson has found that the material has Islamic characters woven into it in mirror image - the names "Ali" and "Allah" in Kufic script. (Ali refers to the fourth leader of the Muslim community, a close friend and relation of the prophet Muhammed. Although there is a theory that the word was incorrectly copied its appearance does show that there was trade in materials and beliefs at that time.) 

An interesting aspect to this research is that many of the clothes are made of silk, again in reference to the belief that those in Paradise will be clothed in that precious fabric. Analysis of the materials shows that it had its origin in Persia or Central Asia. The use of these fabrics does not mean that everyone wore them all the time; only the best clothing was used for the dead, just as we show our respect in the same way now. 

You can read more about this story here on the University's website and a little more here on the BBC.