Ancient Islamic Ring Found Inside Viking Grave

A mysterious ancient ring discovered inside a ninth century woman’s grave in Sweden which crafted more than 1,000 years ago confirms highlights the contact between the Vikings and the Islamic world. The stone inset into the ring bears an inscription that says ‘for Allah’ or ‘to Allah’. The ring was found in a grave dating from the 9th century. In a wooden coffin, it was discovered alongside brooches, a pair of scissors and some clothing. The remains in the grave have disintegrated but, based on the items left behind, it is believed that the owner is a woman. The ring itself is normal-sized and made out of white metal set with a pink or violet stone.

The object was originally discovered during a late 19th century grave excavation in the town of Birka, on Björkö island, about 19 miles (30 kilometers) from Stockholm. Birka was a key trading center during the Viking age and made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993.
Viking Ring Inscribed with "For/to Allah" in Arabic Kufic
According to the study, it is the only ring with an Arabic inscription found at a Scandinavian archaeological site, also a unique object among Swedish Viking Age material. Further analysis of the ring showed that it was rarely worn.

The inner ring still shows signs of where the silver was filed by a craftsman, meaning that it was probably sold as new before it became a treasured possession of a Viking woman.

‘The ring has been cast in a high-grade silver alloy (94.5/5.5 Ag/Cu) and retains the post-casting marks from the filing done to remove flash and mould lines,’

The owner of the ring was found wearing traditional Scandinavian clothing, but the researchers said it was impossible to determine her ethnicity due to the decomposed state of the bones in the grave. This new evidence of ancient ties between the Vikings and the caliphate comes at a time when Sweden's relationship with the modern Islamic world seems to be problematic.


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