I've heard some rumors that Vikings have travelled as far as the Middle-east, and that would be where they've gotten the secret of making their steel so efficient, so early in history.

Is that a thing? Did they actually :

  • Travel all the way to the middle east?
  • Traded, with the locals?

And if they did, do we have any documentation, written journals perhaps, of how they reacted to such different climates?


Answer revised to a Yes: jamesqf correctly pointed out the example of the Varangian Guard in Constantinople.

Back in Scandinavia, Viking burial materials were found to carry Arabic and Muslim motifs. Metcalf's paper What happened to Islamic dirhams after their arrival in the Northern Lands? discusses hoards of coinage acquired directly from the mints far to the south.

There are also more dubious claims about such contact. J. Edgar Taylor's Vikings in the Gulf: fact or fancy? dismisses a specific claim that "Medieval Vikings hauled two or more ships across the Isthmus of Suez and sailed through the Red Sea to the Persian Gulf".

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    There is plenty of evidence, assuming that by "Viking" you mean Norse people in general. (Because, as I note above, "viking" is really more of a job description.) Much of the interchange was through modern day Russia & Ukraine, along the Volga and into the Black Sea, not via Gibraltar & the Mediterranean. – jamesqf Aug 21 '19 at 3:45
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    @jamesqf evidence of Viking/Nordic people reaching the Middle East? Please muster it. – Aaron Brick Aug 21 '19 at 4:04
  • The Byzantine Empire's Varangian Guard: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Varangian_Guard The institution existed for centuries, recruiting members from northern Europe, principally the Norse countries. – jamesqf Aug 21 '19 at 17:21
  • There are also runestone attestations of persons going to Jerusalem, see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Broby_bro_Runestones – andejons Aug 21 '19 at 20:32
  • @jamesqf Quite right. Thank you for the correction. – Aaron Brick Aug 22 '19 at 5:02

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