Muslim Vikings: Warrior Burial Clothes Uncovered With 'Allah' Embroidery The discovery of Arabic characters showing reverence to Allah embroidered in Viking funerary clothing has turned on its head hundreds of years of thinking about Scandinavians in history, and raises questions over whether any of the culture’s famed warriors converted to Islam. Studying the intricate patterns woven into the bands of silk costumes recovered in boat graves from the Viking Age , researchers discovered the inclusion of long-hidden motifs revering Allah, the Muslim God, and Ali, the first Imam of the Shiite faith, Islam’s largest minority group. Keep up with this story and more by subscribing now The words remained unseen for so long because the writing appeared in geometric patterns known as Kufic design. Annika Larsson, a researcher in textile archaeology at the department of archaeology and ancient history at Uppsala University, first spotted the characters on clothing from graves in Sweden's Birka and Gamla Uppsala, that were excavated in the 19th and 20th centuries. “One exciting detail is that the word ‘Allah’ is depicted in mirror image,” Larsson said in a statement given by Uppsala University. “It is a staggering thought that the bands, just like the costumes, were made west of the Muslim heartlands.” Arabic embroidery appears on Viking-style clothing. Uppsala University It is believed that the Vikings, in their extensive travels, encountered the Islamic ideas of eternal life and paradise. “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 ,” Larsson said. “The findings are equally prevalent in both men’s and women’s graves.” The Arabic embroidery appears on Viking-style clothing that was in fashion at the time, disproving the idea that the clothes might simply have been looted. To the contrary: The extent of the use of silk in weaving styles from ancient Persia and Central Asia, found in 9th- and 10th-century Viking graves, shows the extent to which they embraced the Eastern ideal. As a result, Larsson told the BBC , "the possibility that some of those in the graves were Muslim cannot be completely ruled out." As part of the ongoing project, experts from Uppsala will conduct DNA analysis on the human remains from the graves to determine their kinship and geography.
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REUTERS/Jim Urquhart SONOMA, Calif. (Reuters) - Fierce winds were expected to stir wildfires and test firefighters on Saturday in Northern California where the most lethal outbreak of wildfires in state history has killed 35 people and forced more than 90,000 residents from their homes. The wind-driven blazes, which erupted on Sunday night in the heart of California’s renowned wine country, north of San Francisco, have destroyed an estimated 5,700 homes. A total of 17 major wildfires - some encompassing several smaller blazes merged together - had consumed nearly 222,000 acres of dry brush, grasslands and trees across eight counties. Ground crews on Friday gained ground on the wildfires on Friday as they raced to clear drought-parched vegetation along the southern flanks of fires, removing highly combustible fuels adjacent to populated areas before extreme heat and winds were forecast to revive over the weekend. Winds were to intensify overnight and into Saturday with gusts of up to 55 mph (90 kph) along with 10 percent humidity, the service warned. “If new fires start they could spread extremely rapidly,” said Brooke Bingaman, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Sacramento, California in a video posted on Facebook. “Those fuels are super dry right now. This also could cause problems for the current wildfires and the firefighters who are trying to suppress them.” California wildfires threaten wine country tourism lifeblood Wildfire ripped through the Sonoma County town of Santa Rosa, where whole neighborhoods were reduced to landscapes of gray ash, smoldering debris and burned-out vehicles. The 35 confirmed fatalities - 19 in Sonoma County - mark the greatest loss of life from a single fire event on record in California, surpassing the 29 deaths from the Griffith Park fire of 1933 in Los Angeles.