One of the woven silk bands.

Researchers Discover ‘Allah’ Inscribed in Vikings Burial Costumes

(Read the article on one page)

Researchers from Sweden have discovered that Vikings had “Allah” and “Ali” embroidered into their funeral clothes, raising questions about the ties between the Islamic world and the Viking-era Scandinavians. Does that indicate that some Vikings had converted to Islam?

Swedish Archaeologist Noticed the words “Allah” and “Ali” on Viking Clothing 

BBC News reports  that Arabic characters spelling the words "Allah" and "Ali" have been discovered on the burial costumes from Viking boat graves that had been kept in storage for over a hundred years. The silk patterns were initially believed to be common Viking Age decoration, but a re-examination by archaeologist Annika Larsson of Uppsala University revealed they were a geometric Kufic script. Larsson’s interest and curiosity was stimulated by the forgotten fragments after realizing the material had come from central Asia, Persia and China. "I couldn't quite make sense of them and then I remembered where I had seen similar designs - in Spain, on Moorish textiles," she  told BBC News .

Textiles when examined closely revealed Kufic characters (Image:  Annika Larsson )

Larsson soon noticed that there were two particular words that kept appearing repeatedly. She identified the name "Ali" with the help of an Iranian colleague, but it wasn’t as easy for them to decipher the word next to Ali. To decode the second word, Larsson enlarged the letters and examined them from all angles, including from behind, "I suddenly saw that the word 'Allah' [God] had been written in mirrored lettering,"  she told BBC News . Larsson also said that she has so far found the names on at least ten of the nearly 100 pieces she is working through, and they always appear together.

Reproduction of a medieval mosaic in Kufic script from Isfahan, Iran.

Reproduction of a medieval mosaic in Kufic script from Isfahan, Iran. ( Public Domain )

Why these Viking burial clothes had inscriptions to Allah and Ali?

The presence of Islamic artifacts at Viking sites was once explained as evidence of looting and trade, but new finds continue to uncover closer ties between the two cultures. Experts suggest that the latest finding clearly shows similarities between the Viking and Muslim view of the afterlife. "This is a very important discovery because it tells us we can't view this historical period as 'typically Nordic'," Larsson told  The Local . And added "It shows us that the Vikings were in close contact with other cultures, including with the Islamic world."

Furthermore, Larsson doesn’t dismiss the idea that some of these tombs could possibly belong to Muslims, “The possibility that some of those in the graves were Muslim cannot be completely ruled out. We know from other Viking tomb excavations that DNA analysis has shown some of the people buried in them originated from places like Persia, where Islam was very dominant,”  she tells BBC News . However, she doesn’t believe that Vikings converted to Islam, but instead they were only influenced by Islamic ideas when it came to burial customs, “It is more likely these findings show that Viking age burial customs were influenced by Islamic ideas such as eternal life in paradise after death," Larsson added.

In 2015 archaeologists examined a ninth century ring from a Viking grave with ‘For Allah’ engraved on the colored glass stone. It came directly from the Seljuk culture of Asia Minor. (Photo by Christer Åhlin/The Swedish History Museum)

In 2015 archaeologists examined a ninth century ring from a Viking grave with ‘For Allah’ engraved on the colored glass stone. It came directly from the Seljuk culture of Asia Minor. (Photo by Christer Åhlin/The Swedish History Museum)

More Viking Artifacts with Arabic Influence

This is not the first time archaeologists have noticed a link between Vikings and Muslims. Two years ago, researchers re-examined a silver ring from a Viking-era grave in Birka, Sweden, and found the phrase "for Allah" inscribed in Kufic Arabic on the stone. As reported in a  previous Ancient Origins article , that was the first ring with Arabic inscription from that era to be found in Scandinavia. The woman’s grave dated back to about 850 AD and also included items from India, the Caucasus or Yemen and possibly other locations. Archaeologists suggested that the ring may be a signet ring that was used to mark or stamp documents. The rare jewel was described by archaeologists as physical evidence that clearly indicates direct contact between the Vikings of Sweden and the Muslim world – in that case possibly Asia Minor.


I've been reading about the connection between the Norse and the Middle East for years. the fact that some Persians traveled North and/or some Vikings converted to Islam is not surprising.

Many archeologists feel suspicious on this one. It's too controversial, it's like trying to see alphabetic characters in the spots of the Sun that are no there. You can google for "Experts Cast Doubt On Viking Textile With ‘Allah’ Inscription" on gizmodo for full story.

Its not researching. Its political nonsens from Larsson. Similar pattern is found in Norway, dated 15-1600 years old. It´s unbeliveable researchers can present such nonsense as facts! ttps://

Register to become part of our active community, get updates, receive a monthly newsletter, and enjoy the benefits and rewards of our member point system OR just post your comment below as a Guest.

Top New Stories

The Langeid Viking Battle Axe: The original and the copy.
Contrary to what many believe, battle axes from the last part of the Viking age, i.e. the 11th century, had evolved to become light, streamlined, and well-balanced. At the same time, they were powerful lethal weapons, something the recently reconstructed broad axe from Langeid in Southern Norway confirms.

Myths & Legends

Our Mission

At Ancient Origins, we believe that one of the most important fields of knowledge we can pursue as human beings is our beginnings. And while some people may seem content with the story as it stands, our view is that there exists countless mysteries, scientific anomalies and surprising artifacts that have yet to be discovered and explained.

The goal of Ancient Origins is to highlight recent archaeological discoveries, peer-reviewed academic research and evidence, as well as offering alternative viewpoints and explanations of science, archaeology, mythology, religion and history around the globe.

We’re the only Pop Archaeology site combining scientific research with out-of-the-box perspectives.

By bringing together top experts and authors, this archaeology website explores lost civilizations, examines sacred writings, tours ancient places, investigates ancient discoveries and questions mysterious happenings. Our open community is dedicated to digging into the origins of our species on planet earth, and question wherever the discoveries might take us. We seek to retell the story of our beginnings. 

Ancient Image Galleries

View from the Castle Gate (Burgtor). (Public Domain)
Door surrounded by roots of Tetrameles nudiflora in the Khmer temple of Ta Phrom, Angkor temple complex, located today in Cambodia. (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Cable car in the Xihai (West Sea) Grand Canyon (CC BY-SA 4.0)
Next article