Friday 13 October 2017

Unveiling the Past

Arabic for 'Odin is greatest'

On a similar theme, the BBC (along with the rest of the media) is reporting the claim from Uppsala University that the Arabic words for 'Allah' and 'Ali' have been found in Viking burial garments in Sweden (the one of 'Allah' being in mirror image, for some reason). 

According to the BBC's account, the Swedish researchers speculate that the graves' residents might have been Muslim or, more likely, that the Viking culture might have been influenced in their life-and-death beliefs by Islam. 

In Tharik Hussain's BBC piece, the possibility that these Vikings came into possession of these burial garments during their extensive interactions with Islamic states (by either trading or, even more likely, by plundering) isn't dwelt upon. In fact it isn't even mentioned.

Curiously, however, the very next account I turned to - National Geographic's - puts the Islamic influence speculations after pointing out the following:

Ms. Larsson clearly doesn't belief the 'plundering' option can account for her finds though.

Everybody's surely missing the important detail here though: 

Aha! The fact that this Viking burial site is called Birka and, on the principle that 2+2=5, because that sounds very much like the Arabic word 'burqa' that's all the proof I need that these professors from Sweden must be correct. Wonder if any Viking women in burqas will be found there soon? 


Update (via Kaiser at Biased BBC): Spot what's missing from the Daily Mail image of the lettering and the BBC's slightly cropped version of the same image:

From Mail Online
From the BBC News website
Yes, the story-complicating pagan swastika has been cropped from the BBC's version of the image. Why?

Well might sceptical commentators wonder why these Muslim Vikings/Islam-influenced Vikings were using the Norse image of the sun in their burial garments. Perhaps we can discount the suggestion that they were simply Viking Muslims then?


  1. Yes, and philologists will be quick to spot that Uppsala is a corruption of "ups for Allah" showing that Vikings were very keen on Islam.

    1. And Gamla is an anagram of 'Gamal', an Arabic name meaning 'beauty'. Coincidence?

    2. Or possibly 'camel' - well, whatever turns you on!

  2. Straight from Wiki:

    The word swastika comes from the Sanskrit svastika, which means “good fortune” or “well-being." The motif (a hooked cross) appears to have first been used in Neolithic Eurasia, perhaps representing the movement of the sun through the sky. To this day it is a sacred symbol in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism.

    So, the swastika symbol predates Islam and originates in the far-east - apparently. I understood it was a sign of the sun. Good old BBC have left this awkward symbol off their image so that they don't have to lay claim to it being a symbol of Islam - as no doubt they would if push came to shove.

  3. This all seems a bit desperate and tenuous to me - if the point is that cultures mixed in the past, well cultures also exterminated each other in the past too!


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