Ring Proves Link Between Vikings and Islamic World

A ring found in a Viking-era woman’s grave has proved to be a rare link between ninth-century Scandinavians and the Islamic world. 

The ring was discovered in a Viking woman’s grave in the Swedish town of Birka. The silver ring features a violet stone, long thought to be amethyst. Stockholm University researchers recently reexamined the ring using an electron microscope and found that the stone was colored glass and that it was inscribed with Arabic Kufic writing that said “for/to Allah.” Glass was an exotic material in Scandinavia, though it had been used in the Middle East and North Africa for thousands of years.

There is written evidence of the Vikings traveling to Constantinople and Baghdad, writes Sarah Pruitt at History.com, but little physical evidence of the relationship has been unearthed. This little ring goes a long way toward validating those writings.

“The ring has rarely been worn, and likely passed from the silversmith to the woman buried at Birka with few owners in between,” wrote researchers. “The ring may therefore constitute material evidence for direct interactions between Viking Age Scandinavia and the Islamic world.”

Courtesy Swedish History Museum

The silver and glass ring