Researchers from Uppsala University in Sweden have found the name "Allah" embroidered into 10th Century Norse burial clothes, suggesting that Vikings may have been influenced by Islam.
Kufic characters invoking Allah and Muhammad's cousin and son-in-law, Ali, have been found in woven bands and other items of clothing in two separate grave sites, suggesting that Islam had an influence on Viking funeral customs.
The garments, which were found in ninth and tenth-century graves, were kept in storage for more than 100 years and dismissed as typical examples of Viking Age funeral clothes.
Researchers previously thought that the patterns were ordinary Viking Age decoration, but a re-examination by archaeologist Annika Larsson of Uppsala University revealed they were a geometric Kufic script.
So far, Larsson has found the names on at least 10 of the nearly 100 pieces that she is examining, adding that the names always appear together.
According to Daily Mail, experts previously explained the presence of Islamic artifacts at Viking sites as evidence of looting and trade, but the new findings suggested that there may be closer links between the two cultures.
"It is a staggering thought that the bands, just like the costumes, [were] made west of the Muslim heartland. Presumably, Viking Age burial customs were influenced by Islam and the idea of an eternal life in paradise after death," said Larsson, a researcher in textile archaeology at the Department of Archaeology and Ancient History at Uppsala University.
"In the Quran, it is written that the inhabitants of paradise will wear garments of silk, which along with the text band's inscriptions may explain the widespread occurrence of silk in Viking Age graves. The findings are equally prevalent in both men's and women's graves," she continued.
In her previous research, Larsson examined the widespread use of silk during the Viking Age in Scandinavia.
Her examination of materials, weaving techniques, and design suggested that the cloth originated from Persia and Central Asia.
Ancient texts have indicated that Vikings had been trading with members of the Islamic civilization, which stretched from the Mediterranean to West Asia. It was believed that Viking expeditions have extended from Western Europe to Central Asia, and it is from there that sources indicate the extent to which the Vikings had contact with the Muslim World during ancient times.
Historians in Baghdad and other parts of the Muslim world have reportedly described Vikings as "merchant warriors whose primary focus was on trades."
In 2015, researchers have also unearthed a ring, made over 1,000 years ago, that bears an Arabic inscription that reads "for Allah" or "to Allah."
Larsson and her colleagues have received a positive response from the academic community, but there were reports that their findings had upset some Scandinavians who take pride in their Viking ancestry.
"The negative reactions have come from xenophobes, without any exceptions. It's the Muslim connection that they find particularly disturbing," Larsson said.