The Future Is Here
We may earn a commission from links on this page

How Did This Arabic-Inscribed Ring End Up In A 9th-Century Viking Grave?

We may earn a commission from links on this page.

Ancient texts tell of encounters between Viking Age Scandavia and the Islamic world, but material evidence supporting the interaction of these two civilizations is rare. This ring, recently reexamined more than 100 years after its discovery in a ninth century Viking grave, lends credence to these accounts.

Photo Credit: Christer Åhlin / The Swedish History Museum

Researchers led by biophysicist Sebastian Wärmländer of Stockholm University present the findings from their inspection of the ring in a recent issue of the journal Scanning, where they speculate on the ring's provenance and history of ownership:

The stone was previously thought to be an amethyst, but the current results show it to be coloured glass. The ring has been cast in a high-grade silver alloy (94.5/5.5 Ag/Cu) and retains the post-casting marks from the filing done to remove flash and mold lines. Thus, the ring has rarely been worn, and likely passed from the silversmith to the woman buried at Birka with few owners in between. The ring may therefore constitute material evidence for direct interactions between Viking Age Scandinavia and the Islamic world. Being the only ring with an Arabic inscription found at a Scandinavian archaeological site, it is a unique object among Swedish Viking Age material.


H/t Archaeology

Contact the author at