chapter  V
16 Pages

ARAB TRAVELLERS AND MERCHANTS, A.D. 1000-1500

Unexpected evidence as tothe extent of the fur trade between Muhammadan countries and the north of Europe before the beginning of the eleventh century, had been obtained from the enormous finds of Muhammadan coins in various parts of northern Europe, especially on the shores of the Baltic. These coins were obtained from Muhammadan traders in

exchange for skins and furs, and some estimate may be formed of the development which this trade attained from the fact that upwards of ten millions of suchcoins have been discovered, and even these do not represent the total number once in circulation, because there is direct evidence that in some instances the discoverers of a hoard of precious coins have melted them down, and such destruction has doubtless happened in cases that have escaped record. As many as ten or twelve thousand of such coins have been found in a single locality, and in Sweden alone there is a record of such finds in as many as 169 different places.1 How far north the Muhammadans went in search of furs it is difficult to determine, but the observation made by an Arab geographer that, at one of the emporia in which the Muhammadan traders purchased these wares, the night was shorter than an hour shows that some of them at least must have journeyed a very considerable distance to the north of their native country.s

XV Ie siecles, ed. G. Ferrand (Paris, 1921).