Interconnections between Vikings and Muslim Caliphates

A viking woman was buried in the 9th century with a ring that says ‘for Allah’ on it. Discovered around a thousand years later in the grave sites around Birka, the ring is made of silver alloy and contains a stone with an inscription written in the Kufic Arabic script widely used between the 8th and 10th centuries. "For/to Allah," the inscription read. It was the only known Viking Age ring with an Arabic inscription to be found in the entire of Scandinavia. Exactly how the woman got the ring wasn't clear – she was found wearing typical Scandinavian dress, so presumably the ring had arrived through trade.

In new research the ring was scanned with an electron microscope and it was found that the stone in the ring is actually colored glass – at the time an exotic material for the Vikings, though it had been made for thousands of years in the Middle East and North Africa. Since it display lack of wear, it is speculates that it had few – if any – owners in-between its creator and its Viking owner. Instead, it appears to show direct contact between Viking society and the Abbasid Caliphate that dominated much of the Middle East and North Africa. The authors write, "it is not impossible that the woman herself, or someone close to her, might have visited -- or even originate from -- the Caliphate or its surrounding regions."