Fascinating new research has suggested Vikings could have been Muslim after archaeologists found the word ‘Allah’ woven into their burial clothes. An investigation into funeral clothes which dates back to the ninth and 10th centuries have shed some new light on the relationship between the two worlds.
Experts found that patterns woven into garments excavated in Sweden spell the words ‘Allah’ and ‘Ali’, with the discovery raising questions about the influence of Islam on Scandinavia. Textile archaeologist Annika Larsson of Uppsala University told the BBC the material came from central Asia, Persia and China. She said tiny geometric designs on the clothes were not Scandinavian patterns at all but instead ancient Arabic Kufic script.
She said: ‘The possibility that some of those in the graves were Muslim cannot be completely ruled out. ‘We know from other Viking tomb excavations that some of the people buried in them originated from places like Persia, where Islam was very dominant.
‘However, it is more likely these findings show that Viking age burial customs were influenced by Islamic ideas such as eternal life in paradise after death.’ It is the first time items mentioning Ali have been found in Scandinavia, and a team are now hoping to establish where the bodies came from. Larsson is convinced more Islamic inscriptions can be found in other Viking era discoveries. Amir De Martino, programme leader of Islamic studies at the Islamic College in London, suggests the patterns are not from either mainstream Shia culture or any fringe movements but instead a wrongly copied pattern.