Ahmad ibn Fadlan

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Ahmad ibn Fadlān ibn al-Abbās ibn Rašīd ibn Hammād (Arabic: أحمد بن فضلان بن العباس بن رشيد بن حماد‎) was a 10th century Arab traveler, he is famous for his account of his travels as a member of an embassy of the Arab Abbasid Caliph of Baghdad to the king of the Volga Bulgars, the Kitāb ilā Mulk al-Saqāliba (كتاب إلى ملك الصقالبة) (book for the Owners of Scalivia). His account is most known for providing a description of the Volga Vikings, including an eye-witness account of a ship burial.

Contents

Manuscript tradition

For a long time, only an incomplete version of the account was known, as transmitted in the geographical dictionary of Yāqūt (under the headings Atil, Bashgird, Bulghār, Khazar, Khwārizm, Rūs), published in 1823 by Fraehn. Only in 1923 was a manuscript discovered by the Turkic scholar of Bashkir origin Zeki Validi Togan in the Astane Quds Museum, Mashhad, Iran/Persia. The manuscript MS 5229 dates from the 13th century (7th cent. Hijra) and consists of 420 pages (210 folia). Besides other geographical treatises, it contains a fuller version of Ibn Fadlan's text (pp. 390–420). Additional passages not preserved in MS 5229 are quoted in the work of the 16th century Persian geographer Amīn Rāzī called Haft Iqlīm ("Seven Climes").

The Embassy

Ibn Fadlan was sent from Baghdad in 921 to serve as the secretary to an ambassador from the Abbasid Caliph al-Muqtadir to the iltäbär (vassal-king under the Khazars) of the Volga Bulgaria, Almış.

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