– A large Viking treasure has been discovered in a 3,000-year-old grave in Sweden. The treasure was hidden sometime at the end of the Viking Age and consists of 163 silver coins with Arabic inscriptions. It is the largest Viking treasure ever discovered in Uppland, a county on the eastern coast of Sweden.
Swedish archaeologists are currently conducting excavations in Molnby in Vallentuna as preparation for the construction of a new railroad and they were lucky to uncover an ancient 3,000-year-old grave in the area.
When they removed soil and opened the grave, they discovered a precious Viking treasure.
Someone decided to hide the treasure inside the grave about 1,000 years ago, but why is not entirely clear.
“Why Viking Age people hid their treasures is unknown,” archaeologist Åsa Berger said. It is possible many Viking treasures were hidden due to wars or troubled times in the region. Later, these places were forgotten and no-one knew anything about the treasures.
In this case, however, there might be another reason why the ancient silver coins were buried under soil.
“There are no indications that war was the reason why the coins were deliberately hidden,” project leader Anna Hed said. In the Icelandic Sagas, there are many stories that tell how people buried valuable objects with the hope they could use them in the afterlife.
Maybe that’s what happened here. Maybe the person treated the coins as a kind of retirement insurance plan, Hed added.
The ancient coins are from Samarkand, a city in modern-day Uzbekistan and one of the oldest inhabited cities in Central Asia.
Founded in the 7th century B.C. the historic town of Samarkand served as a crossroad and melting pot of the world’s cultures.
Examination shows that several of the 163 silver coins are from Samarkand and bear Arabic inscriptions. Other coins were produced in areas around Volga, modern Russian and are imitations of the Arabic coins. The youngest of the coins was produced either in 935 A.D. or 936 A.D. It was hidden about twenty years later.
People often sacrificed food and beverage in old barrows, so that their buried ancestors could be comfortable in their next life. There are also ancient Norse myths and legends of how it was believed dragon guarded treasure hidden in graves and stone cairns.
It is not the first time scientists have discovered evidence of close contacts between Viking Age Scandinavians and the Islamic world.
Inspection with a scanning electron microscope of the Birka Ring that was unearthed in the late 1800s revealed the object includes an inset of colored glass engraved with ancient Arabic script.
There are still many ancient Viking treasures buried in various countries. It is just a matter of time before more of these precious Viking relics will finally be unearthed.