Photo: Christer Åhlin/SHMM
Photo: Christer Åhlin/SHMM

The silver ring has been examined by a scanning electron microscope of an international research team, led by Stockholm University biophysicist Sebastian Wärmländer. Researchers have observed that the stone, previously thought to be an amethyst, is of colored glass that was an exotic material in Scandinavia in the Viking Age.

In the study, an expert of old Kufic inscription interpreted the inscription on the ring and says that it not only says "Allah", as previously thought, but "for/to Allah” alternatively "nshallah" (God willing).

Proof of physical contact

The ring, which dates from the 800s, was found in the 1800s in Birka on the Swedish island Björkö in Lake Mälaren in a woman's grave. It is in such a condition that scientists believe that the woman who was buried with the ring got it when it was new - perhaps during a journey undertaken by herself or by relatives. This would show physical evidence of contact between Scandinavia and the Muslim world.

Unique in Scandinavia

The ring is the only Arabic ring with inscription found in Scandinavia. Where it was made is more difficult to say, but researchers' guess that it was made somewhere around the Caspian Sea.

The researchers' conclusions of the analysis have been published in the journal “Scanning” and have received great attention in international media.
The report in the journal Scanning.