A tablet woven band, from a Viking burial site
[Credit: Annika Larsson]
The Arabic characters appear on woven bands of silk in burial costumes found in Viking Age boatgraves, as well as in the chamber graves clothing of central Viking Age sites such as Birka in Swedish Mälardalen.
“One exciting detail is that the word ‘Allah’ is depicted in mirror image,” says Annika Larsson, researcher in textile archaeology at the Department of Archaeology and Ancient History at Uppsala University.
“It is a staggering thought that the bands, just like the costumes, was made west of the Muslim heartland. Perhaps this was an attempt to write prayers so that they could be read from left to right, but with the Arabic characters they should have. That we so often maintain that Eastern objects in Viking Age graves could only be the result of plundering and eastward trade doesn’t hold up as an explanatory model because the inscriptions appear in typical Viking Age clothing that have their counterparts in preserved images of Valkyries.”
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