Ibn Fadlan and the Land of Darkness: Arab Travellers in the Far North

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Penguin UK, Jul 26, 2012 - History - 304 pages

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.

 

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User Review  - Joe73 - LibraryThing

Very interesting and mildly entertaining. But I can't help but wonder how much of this was made up by some person in a dark basement in Europe a hundred years ago. Many of the accounts seem a little cartoonish, but then again maybe something got lost in translation. Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - antiquary - LibraryThing

The leading item in this collection of "Arab Travellers in the Far North" is Ibn Fadlan's well-known account of his journey in about 922 AD from Baghdad through various west and central Asian states ... Read full review

Contents

List of Maps
Introduction
Note on the Texts
Passages from Other Geographers Historians
Alexanders Wall 844
Mediterranean 885
Ibn Rusta on the Khazars 903913
Ibn Rusta on the Burtas 903913
Ibn Hawqal on Khwārazm and its trade 988
Ibn Hawqal on the Rūs destruction of Itil 965
Bīrūnī on dog sleds skates and silent barter c
The Enclosed Nations of the far north 1118
Marwazī on the Rūs c 1130
Marwazī on Bulghār and the far north c 1130
Marwazī on the Saqāliba c 1130
Yāqūt on Hungary 1228

Ibn Rusta on the Magyars 903913
Ibn Rusta on the RCs 903913
Ibrāhīm ibn Yaqūb on northern Europe 965
Muqaddasī on exports from Bulghār 985990
Muqaddasī on the land of the Khazars 985990
Ibn Hawqal on the trade in eunuchs 988
and the Rūs c 830
Qazwīnī on Gog and Magog 1275
Marco Polo on dog sleds and the Land of Darkness 1293
Ibn Battūta on travel in the Land of Darkness 1332
Ibn Battūta on a winterjourney to New Sarai 1332
Ibn Fadl Allāh alUmarī on Siberia and Alexanders Tower 13421349
Appendix1 The Khazars c 650c 965
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About the author (2012)

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.

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