Dirhams for Slaves. Investigating slave trade between northern Europe and the Islamic world (and Byzantium?) in the 9th and 10th centuries AD
Hundreds of thousands of early medieval Islamic dirhams have been found in northern Europe. How did they get there? I will test the hypothesis that they reveal a major slave trade system that connected Scandinavia and the Slavic lands with the Islamic world in the 9th and 10th centuries. I will talk about the mechanisms of this trade as they emerge from written sources, archaeology, and a hitherto unstudied type of coins, namely dirham imitations (illustrated). I will conclude with several thoughts on the place of Byzantium in the medieval slave trade.