[dropcap]T[/dropcap]here is an obscure writing dating back to 921 Ibn Fadian manuscript, this incredible story gives us our earliest account of the Viking culture. There is a controversy naturally over such a work of antiquity spanning centuries. This fact alone ensures that it would be argued over. Despite many opinions over its authenticity by scholars of different nations and universities and even a reverent recreation of the original manuscript in the thirteenth century, this incredible story has survived the ages partially incomplete, but amazingly intact. In this manuscript is an Arab’s depiction of his true life, their Ibn Fadian experienced among them.
From a Book entitled “A Collection of Three Novels” by Michael Crichton, “Eaters of the Dead” is an intriguing account of Norsemen, their day to day village life, their incredible skills in battle, and Ibn Fadian’s personal impressions of the Norsemen which becomes a mixture of being aghast at their personal hygiene and warrior mentality, to eventually his ultimate admiration for those he shared 3 life with. June of A.D. 921 the Caliph of Bagdad ordered Ahmad Ibn Fadian, a messenger to act as an ambassador to the King of Bulgars, but Ibn never completed his mission. Along the way he was intercepted by a party of Viking warriors and taken as an accompanying captive, but soon became fascinated by the Vikings and sometimes repulsed by their odd customs. After a time Ibn, who was of Muslim faith, came to fight alongside the Vikings and overcome many doubts he had about his own abilities in doing so.
Ibn Fadian’s skill at documenting what he saw
Ibn was befriended by Herger, a massive warrior who had the skills of an interpreter. Herger served as a translator for Ibn between himself and the leader of the Vikings Buliwyf, another valiant fighter. Unlike many of our earliest tales of adventure told to instill principles and illustrate proper morality by heroes faced with challenges and danger to be sung as entertainment for the listener, Ibn Fadian was a gifted writer whose mission was to report. Thus, this manuscript is a factual account written as a reference for his king to be informed of foreign life and ultimate intentions toward other nations. Therefore “Eaters of the Dead” is more like a diary of Fadian’s experiences. Even in this light, the manuscript is no less entertaining than a fictional account embellished with wild fantasies. In fact, the most amazing thing about “Eaters of the Dead” is the fact that it is not a tall tale at all but the very real account of events that are nothing short of remarkable.
Impressions of Viking life
When Ibn was initially brought to the Viking village, the Ibn Fadian calls upon the name of Allah as he is truly miffed over the strange behavior of the barbarian Norsemen, who fear no one, not even each other. Even during their frequent carnal Ibn Fadian clearly marvels at the bizarre contradictions in the Viking culture.
An Arab witnesses a Viking funeral
When Ibn Fadian first entered the Viking village Wyglif, the village’s leading warrior is deathly sick. Among the brutish beliefs of their culture is the idea that anyone afflicted with a life threatening sickness must be kept away from everyone else, allowed to heal based upon their own strength, and be left only with water and bread as assistance. Wyglif died shortly after Ibn Fadian’s arrival. He next testified to the barbarian ceremonies that followed once the former lead warrior of the village had died.
Upon the death of all honored warriors an incredible ritual was played out among the village Norsemen. The body of the deceased was placed at rest while a ship was constructed that would float out to sea. Animals were slaughtered, gold and silver rendered, food and drink was brought to accompany the warrior to the afterlife. Then a woman in the village would declare under her own willingness that she would die with the great warrior who was to be honored. This ensured her own demise, but this was considered to be an honor.
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