In 922 AD, an Arab envoy from Baghdad named Ibn Fadlan encountered a party of Viking traders on the upper reaches of the Volga River. In his subsequent report on his mission he gave a meticulous and astonishingly objective description of Viking customs, dress, table manners, religion and sexual practices, as well as the only eyewitness account ever written of a Viking ship cremation.
Between the ninth and fourteenth centuries, Arab travellers such as Ibn Fadlan journeyed widely and frequently into the far north, crossing territories that now include Russia, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. Their fascinating accounts describe how the numerous tribes and peoples they encountered traded furs, paid tribute and waged wars. This accessible new translation offers an illuminating insight into the world of the Arab geographers, and the medieval lands of the far north.
IBN FADLAN was a tenth-century diplomat who, in 922 AD, was sent on a mission from Baghdad to the far north by the caliph Muqtadir. His subsequent account of his travels and the peoples he encountered is one of the most important documents from the period. PAUL LUNDE studied at London University's School of Oriental and African Studies and specializes in Islamic history and literature. He is the author of Islam: Culture, Faith and History and is working on an internet project to map pre-modern Eurasian cultural and intellectual exchanges. CAROLINE STONE has edited and written numerous books and articles, principally on textile history, medieval history and literature, Islamic culture and literature, and the cultural and economic relations between Europe and the Orient in the pre-modern era. With Paul Stone, she is translating a collection of the writings by the Arab geographer Mas'udi for Penguin Classics.