Thursday, May 7th, 2015 3:11 pm

If you’re attending the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair this Saturday, remember to drop by Booth 11H44 for our full LAL spread… and don’t miss an engaging afternoon panel featuring LAL Executive Editor James Montgomery—editor-translator of Two Arabic Travel Books along with Tim Mackintosh-Smith—who will be discussing 3rd/10th-century cultural encounters between Ibn Fadlan and the Rus.

As he explained in a recent article announcing the event, “Ibn Fadlan was a key member of a diplomatic mission sent by Abbasid Caliph Al Muqtadir in 921 from Baghdad to the upper reaches of the River Volga, in answer to a request for diplomatic assistance received from the king of Volga Bulgharia. The king had recently converted to Islam and needed help in training jurists, instructing his people in how to pray properly and financial assistance in building a mosque and a fort. At the end of his journey, and during his stay with the king in Volga Bulgharia, Ibn Fadlan describes in some detail a strange people he meets and observes, whom he calls the Rus. Ibn Fadlan in particular is horrified by how they wash in the morning. Importantly, he describes a very elaborate ship burial which many scholars have argued represents a re-enactment of key Viking myths about death and the afterlife. It is the only written account of a ship burial of its kind and while it is grisly and violent it is a tour-de-force of ethnography.”

What: “Iceland: Arabs and Vikings in the Middle Ages”

When: Sat. 9 May, 16:45 – 17:30

Who: Gauti Kristmannsson (host), Thorir Jonsson Hraundal and Prof. James Montgomery

Where: The Tent

For more insight on the text and its translation, make sure to also check out James’ interview “An autopsy of the marvelous” on our blog.

We hope to see you there!

Chip Rossetti
Managing Editor, Library of Arabic Literature