for National Geographic News
A thousand-year-old Viking treasure trove has been dug up in a garden in Sweden, archaeologists report.
The hoard of silver coins from Europe, central Asia, and the Middle East was unearthed earlier this month by a gardener tending his vegetable patch on the Baltic island of Gotland (see Sweden map).
So far 69 coins dating from the late 900s and early 1000s have been found, said archaeologist Dan Carlsson of Gotland University.
The find contains rare early Viking money and foreign currency from present-day England, Germany, Ireland, Iraq, and Uzbekistan.
Along with a similar cache recently discovered in England, the new find paints a picture of Vikings trading and looting their way across Europe and beyond.
The Anglo-Saxon coins were likely either plunder or protection money known as danegeld, which was paid by regional rulers to keep Vikings from attacking, experts said.
The Islamic coins are products of the Vikings' extensive trade, which the Norse conducted by sailing south along Russia's long rivers to reach the Middle East.
Between 700 and 800 silver hoards have been discovered so far on Gotland, which was ideally located as a Viking trading center, Carlsson said.
"Gotland was situated right in the middle between western and eastern Europe," he said.
"Most of the coins [found on the island] were actually Arabic coins [that came] up the Russian rivers."
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