An Islamic coin from 805 AD, found on the Hurum peninsula just west of Oslo, is causing a stir among Norwegian archaeologists.
The silver dirhem, minted in Iran, is one of the earliest examples of coins to turn up in the Nordic countries.
Several other hordes in the area have contained similar coins, but none date back as far as this. The previous finds have been 100-150 years younger.
According to Houshang Khazaei, a researcher at the University of Oslo, the coin was minted in Mohammadiyyah in Iran. The ruler at the time was Harun al-Rashid, the fifth and most famous of the Abbasid caliphs.
For several hundred years dirhems were minted in countries in North Africa and the Middle East. They were used in Europe too, much like the US dollar or the euro today, and likely came to Norway with Viking traders.
The dirhem contains about three grams of silver. Payment was made by weight rather than according to the denomination on the coin. Therefore many were cut in half or into quarters to make small change.
Source: Aftenposten (English)