Why did Vikings have 'Allah' embroidered into funeral clothes?
Researchers in Sweden have found Arabic characters woven into burial costumes from Viking boat graves. The discovery raises new questions about the influence of Islam in Scandinavia, writes journalist Tharik Hussain.
They were kept in storage for more than 100 years, dismissed as typical examples of Viking Age funeral clothes.
But a new investigation into the garments - found in 9th and 10th Century graves - has thrown up groundbreaking insights into contact between the Viking and Muslim worlds.
Patterns woven with silk and silver thread have been found to spell the words “Allah” and “Ali”.
The breakthrough was made by textile archaeologist Annika Larsson of Uppsala University while re-examining the remnants of burial costumes from male and female boat and chamber graves originally excavated in Birka and Gamla Uppsala in Sweden in the late 19th and mid-20th centuries. Read more.