A Tale of Two Civilisations: The Viking and the Muslim Civilisation

Dating back to March 2015, news regarding the discovery of a ring found on a Viking woman in an ancient burial ground with the inscription ‘For/To Allah’ erupted in mainstream media. The mystery surrounding how these vastly different cultures became intertwined has intrigued and continues to intrigue many.

Some named it the “mysterious ring”, some actively deliberated and debated questions as well as made up theories of how or why it arrived in Sweden. It is worth noting however that this was not the only contact documented between the Viking and Muslim Civilisation.

This article aims to shed light on the transmission between the Viking and Muslim civilisation regarding this ring and beyond. It also aims to address the misconceptions surrounding the discussion of the Islamic World during medieval times along with the relationship between the Viking and Muslim Civilisation which demonstrates how far historical amnesia spans.


Note of the Editor

This article was edited to fit Muslim Heritage website standards. It was originally written in May 2015 during the height of the refugee crisis [and has been edited and extended in the light of new discoveries in October 2017]. Amongst other countries, refugees sought safe haven in Sweden – the country where the ring was found. Such articles highlighting the interactivity between Muslims and Europe, which spans back hundreds of years, can foster cultural awareness and intercultural respect. More importantly, they highlight that interaction between Muslims and Europeans goes much beyond sensationalist newspaper headlines regarding immigration or refugee related news, rather that there is, can be and have been positive relationships.


Figure 1&2. Images of the Ring in the news (Source)

Table of Contents 

1. The Abbasid Connection
2. The Viking or the Rus? 
3. Merchant Warriors
4. The One Ring
5. Muslim Vikings
6. Conclusion and Discussion
7. Related News
8. Bibliography
9. Related Articles
10. Appendix
10.1. Accounts of People from Islamic Civilisation
10.2. Viking Rus
10.3. Further Connections
10.3.1 Viking Burial Clothes
10.3.2 Persian Silk
10.3.3 Persian Cup
11. References


Figure 3. Banner Image

1. The Abbasid Connection

From the eighth to the eleventh century, the Vikings were renowned for roaming the world and covering large distances, which preceding them some historians hold was a feat never done before.

Figure 4. Al-Idrisi describing Finland, 1154. (Source)

Their expeditions are said to have extended from Western-Europe to Central Asia[1], 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, such as those governed by the Abbasids, that the Vikings found “emporiums beyond their wildest dreams”[2].

The Abbasid domain, particularly when under the authority of Harun al-Rashid, was accustomed to interacting with people from different ethnicities and beliefs. This was evident with both the scholars who hailed from diverse backgrounds and also in the sources they acquired and translated in institutions such as Bayt al-Hikmah (the House of Wisdom)[3]. Evidence of exchanges between King Charlemagne and Harun al-Rashid revealed they had good relations. Some sources hold the belief that relations between Harun al-Rashid and King Charlemagne were progressive to such an extent that Harun al-Rashid gifted many presents including several types of perfumes along with his own personalised water clock[4]. This appears to be in contrast with King Charlemagne’s relations with the Vikings who is believed to have held them in such disdain that he “wept bitterly” at the thought of “what evil they will do to [his] descendants and their subjects”[5]. The Abbasids however may well have taken this opportunity to build strong ties with the Vikings, developing mutual bonds between traders and merchants as a result.

Figure 5. Harun al-Rashid receiving a delegation sent by Charlemagne at his court (Source)

What is more, similar to traders and merchants from the Muslim world, Viking traders also appeared to exhibit a barter system for trading goods[6], particularly with commodities such as furs, honey, leather, ivory, fish and other commodities[7]. This was in place of the prized and costly silver at that time.

“Viking traders brought Abbasid silver coins in great quantities to Scandinavia; thousands have been found in Russia and the Baltic,” as reported by Timothy F. H. Allen, Joseph A. Tainter and Thomas W. Hoekstra in their book, “Supply-Side Sustainability[8].

Indeed, the excavating of many of the sites in Scandinavian countries at present could be said due to the translation of such accounts made by voyagers and scholars from Muslim lands into European languages. Professor Thomas S. Noonan also highlights that it was a cache of dirhams (Arabic coins) “that helped fuel the Viking Age”[9]. What is more, the dirham was said to be considered to be of such might that in Viking York and Dublin between the 10th and 12th centuries it was used as common currency[10].

Noonan continues to state that it was in the quest of these silver dirham, the Scandinavians resorted to venturing East in the first instance[11]. Likewise, in al-Mas’udi’s accounts, merchants and traders from the Muslim World were eager to “possess caps and coats made of black fox, one of the most prized of all furs.”[12]

Figure 6.National Museum of Finland : Islamic, English, and German coins, latest coin dates from 1006-1029 (Image: Source)

Figure 7. Oleg of Novgorod by Viktor Vasnetsov (Source)

2. The Viking or the Rus?

Akin to the Viking, voyagers and scholars from various Muslim dynasties were also familiar with travelling on behalf of their rulers. It was during their visits to established trading centres such as Kiev and Novgorod, part of the “Volga Trade route”[13],[14], where they are believed to have first began noting down their observations regarding the Vikings, or Rus as they were referred to in Arabic.

In “Into the Light”, the fourth part of Andrew Marr’s BBC aired documentary series entitled “History of the World”, Marr mentioned how the Vikings came to be known as Russians as Oleg, a Viking prince and leader of the Rus was at the head of the Viking expedition to the lands known as Russia today. [15]

For more infomation please see Appendix 10.2

3. Merchant Warriors

Historians from the Muslim world based in Baghdad, amongst the Khazar, and other lands had given the Vikings a reputation of primarily being “merchant warriors whose primary focus was on trades” [16], [17]. Historians in Al-Andalus however were of different opinion due to frequent attacks perpetrated by the Vikings.

One account in Omar Mubaidin’s article entitled “Tentative Global Timeline of Contacts between the World of Islam and Western Europe: 7th -20th Cent”[18] outlines:

“A Viking fleet sacks Lisbon, Seville, Cadiz and Algeciras in the Emirate of Cordova and Asilah in Morocco. In retaliation, the forces of the Emir trap the Viking fleet on the River of Guadalquivir destroying 30 ships and killing 1,000 Vikings. Most of the 400 captured Vikings are executed. Vikings would make numerous raids against both Muslim and Christian states in the Iberian Peninsula. Eventually, a community of settled Vikings, who converted to Islam in southeast Seville, would be famous for supplying cheese to Cordoba and Seville.”

Upon the news of the sacking of Nekor[19], the Balaearic Islands[20], Pamplona and Lisbon, one Muslim observer stated, “al-Majus – May God curse them! – they invaded the little Moroccan state of Nakur and pillaged it. They took into captivity all the inhabitants with the exception of those who saved their lives by fight”[21].

In addition to the above statement, John M. Riddle wrote:

“… Alfonso I (r. 739–757) organized strong and resolute defenses against the Vikings, and the Austrians turned away the Vikings, just as they had stopped the Muslims. In response, the Vikings raided Muslim territories at Lisbon and then sailed around the peninsula and up the Guadalquivir River to besiege Seville. After reeling from the first raids, the Muslims under Abd ar-Rahman II (r. 822–852) learned to cope by fighting them to a standstill. As the Vikings marched back to their ships with loot and prisoners to be sold as slaves, the opportunities for ambushes increased. Muslim ships trapped Viking ships at river ports and learned the use of at least a variant of Greek fire to burn the ships. Thwarted in Muslim Spain, the Vikings raided the shores of northern Africa, where they rounded up large numbers of what they called “blue men” and “black men,” and sold them as slaves in Ireland and elsewhere. In pursuit of slaves and wealth, some Vikings (such as Halfdan) made it to Italy as they unsuccessfully sought to find Rome, the Eternal City”[22].

Figure 8. Muslim (Saracen), Magyar, and Viking Invasions of Europe during the Tenth Century (source)

Although they may not have been held in high regard in the opinion of people in Al-Andalus, their raids demonstrated their military might and effective strategy. Archaeologist Bjørn Myhre is said to have argued that, “They [the Vikings] were not ignorant barbarians. They knew exactly the kind of military and ideological pressure they were up against”[23].

Coupled with the collapse of the Samanid state, the “exhaustion of the silver mines”[24] with silver debasing as a consequence, as well as them being defeated in 971 CE by the Count of Aragón, Gonzalo Sanchez, the Age of the Seafarer Viking had come to an end in the Mediterranean.

Figure 9. Emir of Córdoba and its officers, according to a sixteenth-century manuscript. (Source)
“The Emir of Cordoba, Abd arRahman II, drove Viking raiders out of Seville and fortified the city against further attacks.Vikings Raids in Moorish Spain left little lasting trace” (Source: “The Viking Age” by Robert Ferguson)

It should be noted that the Vikings were also mercenaries who fought for different nations. For example there are two runic inscriptions in the Hagia Sophia[25] in Istanbul (Constantinople) dating back to the ninth century, which were believed to have belonged to a Viking named Halvdan[26],[27]. Although some hold that he could have been a visitor of some sort, it was largely believed that he was a soldier of fortune “long before the Varangian Guard – an elite Viking unit of the Byzantine Army”[28].

If the Vikings did indeed travel long journeys towards the east, they may well have been hired by Muslim armies also, particularly by Andalusian or Muslims from the Caucasus region. In 1041 CE, a Viking expedition led by Ingvar the Widefarer to the Caucasus against Muslim nations resulted in a strong defeat. This led historians such as Jonathan Clements to note: the “Vikings left the Muslim world alone, preferring instead to serve as mercenaries in its armies, or trade with it in valuable commodities such as slaves – they may have been raiders at the European end of trade route, but at the Middle Eastern end they were merchants”[29]. Once again, demonstrating the connection and evolution between the Vikings and Muslims over time.

Aside from the Andalusians and the Abbassids, historian Jonsson Hraundal stressed that the Vikings also encountered “The Turks, and especially the Khazars and Bulgars, [who] were the dominant powers in the region when the Rus arrived. The texts mainly show how powerful the Turks were. The Rus couldn’t just come in swinging their swords and take over”[30].

For more information of other encounters please see Appendix 10.1

Figure 10. Trade in the East Slavic Camp by Sergei Ivanov, 1913 (Sources)

4. The One Ring

Some of you may be wondering how the Viking woman with the Arabic ring ties in to this discussion. As outlined above, with the amalgamation of European and non-European sources, archaeologists and historians have invested a considerable amount of time to retrieve information relating to the Viking Age on the Swedish islands. Viking women were known to have sported various pieces of jewellery, Ibn Fadlan (b. 877) is said to have noted the Rus women bearing neck rings of gold and silver:

“[She has] one for each 10,000 dirhams which her husband is worth; some women have many. Their most prized ornaments are green glass beads of clay, which are found on the ships. They trade beads among themselves and pay a dirham for a bead. They string them as necklaces…[31]

Figure 11. 10,000 silver Dirhams from the 7th-9th century AD, hidden c. 820 AD – Bode-Museum
(Source: Dirhams for slaves: Investigating the Slavic slave trade in the tenth century – medievalists.net)

Most recently, in a research paper published on 23rd February, 2015, archaeologists noticed that an excavation of a woman who seems to have been buried in the ninth century bore a silver ring with an accompaniment of a purple stone. It should be noted that the ring itself was discovered in the late nineteenth century, yet only recently was a Kufic Arabic inscription identifed.

At the moment the ring is in The Swedish History Museum in Stockholm – historiska.se

Figure 12. Image of the Ring from the online news (Source)

The inscription on the ring was written in an Arabic script referred to as “Kufic,” an early angular form of the Arabic alphabet found chiefly in decorative inscriptions, which was well renowned in the eighth to tenth centuries. The word reads as “il-La-La” which means “for” or “to Allah (God)”. Though the attire of the woman in the grave seems to be traditionally Scandinavian, her decomposed body made it hard for the researchers and archaeologists to determine her faith and ethnicity. Thus making people question – was it a war spoil? A gift? A part of her traditional attire? Or, was she a convert to Islam? We cannot confirm yet.

Regarding the material of the ring, a report conducted by the Wiley Periodicals Inc. in the “Analysis and Interpretation of a Unique Arabic Finger Ring from the Viking Age Town of Birka, Sweden” found that: “this work used non-destructive SEM imaging and EDS analysis to characterize the material composition of an Arabic finger ring, which was found in a 9thc. woman’s grave at the Viking Age (A.D. 793–1066) trading center of Birka, Sweden. […] The stone was previously thought to be an amethyst, but the current results show it to be coloured glass. 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 mold lines. Thus, the ring has rarely been worn, and likely passed from the silversmith to the woman buried at Birka with few owners in between. The ring may therefore constitute material evidence for direct interactions between Viking Age Scandinavia and the Islamic world…”

Figure 13. Image of the Ring from the online news (Source)

The ring, combined with the unearthing of the dirham (Arabic coins) and Muslim astronomer figures found on the Astronomical Clock in the Lund Cathedral[32] in parts of Europe suggest that more studies and research should be done to uncover similar artefacts signifying European and Muslim Civilisation inter-connectivity.

Figure 14
Lund Cathedral Clock
“While in the cathedral, I walked over to the medieval astronomical clock to await the moving figures and music that accompany the striking of the hour. During my wait, I noticed four carved figures that had been placed in each of the corners of the top part of the clock. The figures were wearing exotic clothing and one even wore a turban, immediately bringing to mind the image of an Arabic astronomer. This challenged my previous assumption that Muslims had generally been portrayed in a negative light in medieval Scandinavia. Indeed, it actually seemed to suggest that there was a sense of pride in having these figures here occupying a prominent place within the walls of one of medieval Scandinavia‟s most important ecclesiastical buildings. This encounter tied in with research that I had been undertaking on the influence and dissemination of Arabic ‪‎scientific‬ works in Scandinavia, particularly in ‪Iceland‬…”

Christian Etheridge [33]

Figure 15.
Lund Cathedral Clock

Examples such as the aforementioned demonstrate the mutually beneficent relations Muslim and non-Muslim civilisations have enjoined in for centuries. Furthermore, these discoveries indicate the vast multicultural wealth which lies in overlooked places as it does in overlooked languages.

Figure 16. Part of Duccio’sRucellai Madonna (Source)

Additional examples of Muslim and European interconnectivity include Arabic inscriptions and eastern patterns found on altar cloths, church vestments and even funeral shrouds in Christian possession.[34] This could have been due to the quality of the Muslim loom at the time. It may be perceived as shocking now, however on some occasions “these fabrics were trimmed with decorative Arabic text from the Holy Quran […] which said ‘There is no god but God and Muhammad is his prophet’ in Arabic” [35]. This even extended to some Italian Renaissance paintings which depicted the Virgin [Mary]. In the book entitled “Bazaar to Piazza” by Rosamond E. Mack, these claims have been researched in to extensive detail and include multiple image sources; one example being the “Pseudo-Arabic [which] appears on [the] armbands of Duccio’s angels and Giotto’s Christ Child[36].

It is important to note that these discoveries are brought to our attention through investing in and promoting all histories and their connectivity with the modern day. Not just Europe but all over the World, and even places one does not expect. For example, the “Arabic-minted coins found […] on an island in northern Australia”[37] and how “Few Australians are aware that the country’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples had regular contact with foreign Muslims long before the arrival of Christian colonisers”[38]. This also applies inversely, the Muslim world seems to have adopted many non-Muslim icons, for example, it is said that the Crescent Moon[39], [40] and architectural dome of mosques[41] derive from Byzantium influence. Therefore, it is not surprising that Latin letters may be found in an old Mosque and Arabic calligraphy may feature in an old Church. Due to our lack of knowledge, the world is indeed full of surprises.

Figure 17 A handful of Arabic 10th century silver coins found by brothers Arvid and Edvin Sandborg on the Swedish island of Gotland (Image Source)

5. Muslim Vikings

Besides the unearthing of the ring, an additional fact worthy of mention with regards to the Viking woman was that she appeared to be buried rather than cremated. This suggests that the woman might have been amongst those Viking people who converted to Islam after their interaction with Muslims. This evidence may therefore reveal that Islam was not only a popular religion during ancient times in the East, but that it was also deep rooted in Europe as well.

Evidence pertaining to the Vikings converting to Islam includes a memoir recorded by the sixteenth century Muslim geographer, Amin Razi (16th – 17th century, Persia) who is reported to have stated that:

...They [the Vikings] highly valued pork. Even those who had converted to Islam aspired to it and were very fond of pork” [42]

As is mentioned in the section entitled “Merchant Warriors”, “a community of settled Vikings, who converted to Islam in southeast Seville, would be famous for supplying cheese to Cordoba and Seville.”

The majority of the Vikings however continued to practice their traditional beliefs, which Simon Franklin and ‎Jonathan Shepard mention “judging by ibn Rustah’s (10th century, Persia) own account, great respect was accorded to [the] ‘shamans’ [attibah], who have authority over the ruler ‘as if they themselves were masters’, and can summarily order the sacrifice of man or beast. That the ruler was essentially a figurehead is suggested by ibn Fadlan”[43].

Though many have offered their theories regarding the Scandinavian Viking woman and the ring, the true account of the story underlying this mystery is yet to be revealed.

Andrew Marr also commented on how Vikings in Russia came very close to converting to Islam with their king being unable to initially decide which of the world’s religions would suit them best:

It’s said that he (Oleg, a Viking prince and leader of the Rus) asked representatives of Roman Catholicism, Greek Orthodox Christianity, Judaism and Islam to come here and persuade him. “Go on, argue. Convert me.”. The old Viking warrior was quite interested in Islam until he heard that it would involve giving up alcohol, at which point he said, in effect, “OK, you’re out”. In the end, he chose Greek Orthodox Christianity and began to build the first stone church in Kiev.” [44] 

Figure 18

6. Discussion and Conclusion

If trade, political envoys, war and immigration amongst other factors were brought to light, we may yet learn of additional contacts made between the Viking and the Muslim world, such as the ring with an Arabic inscription on a Viking Woman. The sensationalism and mystery created around this discovery could be argued to be born from the lack of information researched or ellipsis on this subject.

Like many other civilisations that lived in Ancient times, the Vikings are misunderstood. Civilisations from Ancient times are not necessarily synonymous with being “savages / barbarian” or by having a “primitive culture”. Ibn Fadlan’s observation of the Vikings might be a kin to a city dweller visiting another continent and writing down their views. Seeing as Ibn Fadlan was a well-educated and privileged young emissary originating from a large and prosperous city such as Baghdad, a city heralded as the “centre of the Golden Age” of its time, this could be said to be an accurate comparison. Moreover, “Ibn Fadlan was likely disgusted because of the Muslim world’s concept of cleanliness, where people would use running water and each person would each have their own bowl”[45]. This was not the case however for Ibn Rustah, another Muslim geographer. According to him, they were “handsome, clean and well-dressed”[46] and he praised them even further:

They keep their clothes clean and the men adorn themselves with armbands of gold. They treat their servants well and dress exquisitely because they are such keen traders… They are generous to each other, honour their guests and treat well those who seek refuge with them, and all who come to visit them. They do not allow anyone to annoy or harm these. And whenever anyone dares to treat them unfairlythey help and defend them .”[47]

Figure 19. Remembering ‪‎Omar Sharif (On the Left)‬ as he appeared in the 1999 film “The 13th Warrior” which tells the story of 10th-century Arab traveller Ahmed‪ Ibn Fadlan‬, played by ‪‎Antonio Banderas (On the Right) (Source) and here you can watch Omar Sharif’s final film “1001 Inventions and the World of Ibn Al-Haytham”, which has been dedicated to his legacy.

Even Ibn Fadlan (b.877), who though did not appreciate their personal cleanliness habits, praised them as being “perfect physical specimens” and described them as “tall as date palms”, which this comparison could be said to have been one of the highest compliments one could receive from an Arab in those times:

...I have seen the Rus as they came on their merchant journeys and encamped by the Itil. I have never seen more perfect physical specimens, tall as date palms, blond and ruddy; they wear neither tunics nor kaftans, but the men wear a garment which covers one side of the body and leaves a hand free. Each man has an axe, a sword, and a knife, and keeps each by him at all times. Each woman wears on either breast a box of iron, silver, copper, or gold; the value of the box indicates the wealth of the husband. Each box has a ring from which depends a knife. The women wear neck-rings of gold and silver. Their most prized ornaments are green glass beads. They string them as necklaces for their women…” [47]

It is important to note also that in contrast to opinions stating that the Vikings had poor hygiene practice, some historians noted that the most common artefacts found from the Viking Age pertains to combs[49]. Furthermore that these combs were accompanied by other personal grooming items like razors, tweezers and even ear spoons[50].

Figure 20. Viking combs (Source 1) + (Source 2)

Figure 21. One of the Viking baths, this bath built by Snorri Sturluson at his farm at Reykholt, around the year 1210 (Source)

What is more, they were noted to having used a very strong lye-based soap[51] paste and as can be observed in figure 20, they had bathing facilities. Therefore, countering the opinion that their personal cleanliness practice was insufficient.

Besides their interactions with Muslims, it should be noted that the Vikings had interacted with many other civilisations and had learnt fresh ideas and methodologies from these interactions. Withstanding the knowledge that they had their own language, alphabet, religions and myths.

Other notable contributions they made include a sólarsteinn (Sunstone Compass)[52], illustrating their technological advance during that time. The beautiful carvings found embossed on their ships or on their armour such as helmets or shields depicts their interest in art – art often being regarded as evidence of a highly cultured community.

Fig 22. Sunstone Compass made by researchers at the University of Rennes (Source) It stems largely from a passage in a 13th-century manuscript called St Olaf’s Saga

Fig 23. More advanced, Arabic inscripted, compass (Source)

Fig 24. 13th-Century compass drawings used by seafarers from Muslim Civilisation of that time (Source)

Similar to the Viking, people from Muslim Civilisation also invested in the arts, lifestyle and technology – even compasses used by seafarers during this period. Furthermore, partial accounts regarding the Viking and Muslim civilisation may be tainted from single story narratives due to a lack of knowledge or alternative historical accounts being disseminated. In example, when some may think of the Viking, they may not consider that they settled in so many different countries worldwide. Likewise, Muslims are also perceived by some as originating or being located in one single geographical location, when in reality Muslims have diversity in their beliefs and cultures.

Contrary to stereotypes, people would travel from near and far to study at institutions in the Muslim world and the Dirham and Dinar were amongst the most powerful currencies – no different than how the Euro or Dollar is regarded today. This is highlighted by the discovery of King Offa’s coins in the British Museum engraved with ‘There is no other God but the one God. He has no equal,’ and on the outer margin of the coin “Mahommad is the Apostle of God, who sent him with the doctrine and true faith to prevail over every religion”[53].

Viking and Muslim stereotypes lead some to perceive them as “barbarian” or “backward” people, thus when new discoveries such as that of the Arabic ring come to light, it may surprise them. Further study will inspire others to search for more evidence with regards to past civilisations. Moreover, it will demonstrate that these magnificent discoveries did not originate from thin air, rather it is our misconception and lack of knowledge of those times that prevent us from unearthing other exciting artefacts which may well be in plain view.

President of FSTCProfessor Salim T. S. Al-Hassani often relates news items such as these to amnesia in the minds of people regarding millennia of contributions made by scholars from Muslim, Chinese, Indian and other non-European civilisations in the form of education, history books and mainstream media:

Unfortunately, there is a period of a 1000 years missing from Western educational systems. Almost in every subject taught in schools, there exists a jump from the Greeks to the Renaissance, usually referred to as the “Dark Ages”. What is predominantly in the minds of people about the Arabs of the time are the tales of the 1001nights; with Sinbad, Ali Baba, Aladdin and the magic lamp and flying carpet,..etc.

This amnesia affects the minds of present and future generations and distorts their attitudes and perceptions of the role of other cultures, particularly Muslim, in building the present civilisation.”[54]

Figure 25 & 26. Professor Salim Al-Hassani, President of FSTC (in both photos) with Ms. Tarja Halonen, former President of Finland (on the left) and Anders Liden, former Swedish Ambassador to UN (on teh right) at United Nation Social Cohesion Conference, 1001 inventions: Multi-Fatih Scientist in Islamic Civilisation (Source)

In August 2013, the “1001 InventionsDiscover Muslim Heritage Exhibition” was launched by HRH Prince Carl Philip of Sweden officially in Värmlands Museum. To that occasion Åsa Hallén, Director of Värmlands Museum noted the following:

1001 Inventions is an entertaining, fun and educational experience for children and adults alike. It complements the western writing of history and accentuates some of the many amazing treasures of the cultural and scientific history of the Muslim civilization. It shows us how indeed we share a cultural global heritage and points at a very important precondition for development: the openness to input and influences from other cultures.”[55]

Figure 27. (From left) Åsa Hallén, Director of Värmlands Museum, Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth, Sweden’s Minister of Culture, and HRH Prince Carl Philip of Sweden, the Duke of Värmland. Back in 2013, August 1001 Inventions “Discover Muslim Heritage” Exhibition was in Värmlands Museum, Sweden

This article, written for the public reader, sought to present some links and evidence of the relationship between the Vikings and Islamic World to outline that the discovery of this ring should not be very surprising, rather common knowledge promoted by mainstream education and media initiatives. Although news of such discoveries are welcomed, the shock and awe this story caused raises some questions of why they are received as such. To support this case we would like to conclude our article with this important note made by Dr Anne-Maria Brennan

The ring was found in the 19th Century, and only recently has the Arabic inscription been noticed. It makes you wonder, how many other artefacts are out there that are undiscovered? There are thousands if not millions of manuscripts waiting to be translated and studied – what gems, what precious information, what insights into history are hidden within them? Europe is inundated with links to Islamic culture, yet many still see the two as worlds apart. Take a closer look and we see castles, fountains, books, ceramics, artefacts, tools and many other things throughout Europe – all beautiful reminders of a Golden Age of Islam. The presence of this ring shows how prolific Islamic culture was – at one time trade and education were what people from all over travelled to the Muslim Civilisation for. The dirham was the strongest currency. The discovery of this ring is a wonderful souvenir of a time where people of all background and beliefs lived and worked together in harmony…”

Figure 28. sciencenordic.com: The Polish painter Henryk Siemiradzki painted the funeral ritual of Vikings in what is now Russia, in accordance with descriptions by Ahmad ibn Fadlan. New analyses show that his and other Arabs’ texts are excellent sources of cultural knowledge about the Vikings who ventured eastward. (Source)



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