How common was gold trade during the viking era?

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Silver was far more important to the western european economy than gold at this time. While there was gold in western Europe at this time (jewelry mostly but also arabic dinars and (pre-)migration era coinage, silver was the dominant form of metal wealth and definitely the dominant form of coinage. Tons upon tons of carolingean silver (because the coinage of the viking era was still mostly carolingean pennies) made it into the hands of vikings, through ransom, loot and trade. Most of it was melted down, but isotope anlysis of viking jewelry suggests that most pieces were made from carolingean silver. The total amount of gold on the other hand can probably be counted in kilos.


For payment, Silver is often mentionned : Danegeld payments (i.e. the Viking raid exemption tax) are often recorded as “X pounds of silver” : Æthelred paid ~3.3 Tons of Silver in 991 for exemple. For looting, my understanding is that anything compact and of value was fair game: jewels, but also tools and weapons, or even slaves


The vast majority of coins, jewelry and bullion traded in northwestern Europe during the Viking age was silver. The most common silver coins were produced by English, Frankish, German and Andalusian/Arabic polities, and later by the Scandinavian kingdoms as well. Gold was more common in the Middle East, particularly in Persia, but also in the Levant and the Byzantine Empire. It’s important to note, however, that even in areas where gold was more available, silver was usually the dominant metal for specie due to its value/rarity as compared to gold. In Northwestern Europe, precious metals and jewelry were sometimes used to pay off invaders (specifically in England and France), and this would sometimes include gold, but again was more commonly silver. Silver was the main monetary commodity in that era/region, but coins were not always plentiful (especially during periods of war/unrest when governments did not have the resources to mint coinage). Barter was always a popular option (goods, especially food/livestock, traded instead of coins). Silver was often hacked apart from its original source—whether from a coin or from jewelry, such as arm bands, rings, crucifixes, etc.—and used as raw pieces for trade. Vikings and other warriors carried their wealth on them conspicuously for status purposes in the form of mail and weapons, but also in jewelry like armbands for the purpose of trade; if they ran out of coins and needed to buy something, they could hack their armband apart with an axe and use the pieces as a sort of coinage.


Primarily Silver, especially in the form of Arabic Coins were (most silver during this period came from the Arabic World) used in regards to “viking” trade in the early middle ages. Which can be seen in the large finds of these in Gotland and Sweden. Silks and gold were used aswell although to a lesser extent. ​ Especially Hedeby became a large centre of Trade in Scandinavia, if not the biggest, controlling several major trade routes into and out of Europe. ​ Because of their farreaching trade network, the “vikings” to a point restarted the use of bullion in exchange of goods in Europe.


You know, that’s something that I’ve been curious about for a long time. Just how prevalent was this insane desire for gold around the world? Clearly, it was highly prized in the Middle East and Northern Africa for many thousands of years. It was clearly a thing for Europe since the Roman empire. And it was obviously highly prized by the Chinese, Japanese, etc.. for millenia. What was the most advanced civilization that didn’t have such a hardon for gold?