Were Vikings Muslim? New research finds 'Allah' woven into burial clothes

Enlarging the patterns and looking at the reflection in a mirror revealed the word'Allah  in Arabic  BBC

Enlarging the patterns and looking at the reflection in a mirror revealed the word'Allah in Arabic BBC

Uppsala - Researchers in Sweden have found Arabic characters woven into burial costumes from Viking boat graves.

Patterns woven with silk and silver thread have been found to spell the words "Allah" and "Ali".

"This is a very important discovery because it tells us we can't view this historical period as "typically Nordic", Annika Larsson, a textile archaeologist at Uppsala University, told The Local.

Speaking to the BBC, Larsson said that the cloth originated from China, central Asia and Persia. "I couldn't quite make sense of them and then I remembered where I had seen similar designs - in Spain, on Moorish textiles".

There were two words that kept recurring. It was the name "Ali" - the fourth caliph of Islam. "I suddenly saw that the word "Allah" [God] had been written in mirrored lettering", she says.

She said she realised that the name "Ali" - the fourth caliph of Islam - and Allah on at least 10 of the almost 100 pieces she is working through, and they always appear together.

She said: "The possibility that some of those in the graves were Muslim can not be completely ruled out".

Further analysis will be required to learn more, and this is being carried out on the people who were buried with the garments to determine whether they was people from Persia or - much more likely - Vikings wearing Islamic textiles.

"Presumably, Viking Age burial customs were influenced by Islam and the idea of an eternal life in Paradise after death", she said in a statement.

Her team is now working with the university's department for immunology, genetics and pathology to establish the geographic origins of the bodies dressed in the funeral clothes.

Larsson is convinced more Islamic inscriptions can be found in other Viking era discoveries.

A silver ring from a female tomb at Birka was found two years ago that found the phrase "for Allah" inscribed in Kufic, which was developed in the Iraqi town of Kufah in the 7th Century.

It's the first time historic artefacts mentioning "Ali" have been found in Scandinavia, marking this as an important archaeological discovery.