There is an obscure writing dating back to 921 AD. Known as the 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 experiences over a 3 year span in the company of Vikings. It reads like something out of “Jason and the Argonauts” or ”The Adventures of the Brave Ulysses” yet it is an amazingly true to life tale of an Arab’s first-hand account of Viking life, their society, and the amazing saga that Ibn Fadian experienced among them.
If you missed part I click here: https://www.ufodigest.com/article/ufos-vikings-part-i-0628
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 years of his 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 society’s daily 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 home of the Norsemen who had taken him in, Fadian was appalled at the conduct of these war-like people. Men and women according to Ibn defecated anywhere without cleaning themselves. The men often copulated spontaneously with a woman right in the midst of the public and among others. Supposedly many of those who ran a farm slept on earthen floors alongside their animals among the dung they had excreted. The men, who drank all the time, would brawl with each other at a moment’s notice. Often wounding or killing each other, none of the Viking villagers found bloodshed to be reprehensible. The Viking warriors were amazingly unaffected by blood and gore that often made Ibn empty the contents of his stomach. Fadian once remarked that the town crier greatly impressed him due to the fact that as he yelled out the news of the recent days, he was hit in the face by the blood from a deadly fight, yet he remained composed and without so much as a reaction as he continued his oration!
Many times during the course of the story, 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 encounters with Viking women they are often injured by the violent act of attempting to copulate with the women who are kicking, biting, and clawing the men in the midst of the unceremonious sex occurring without privacy or tenderness. Ibn admitted himself that the act itself with these Viking women amounted to more pain than any pleasure that could come of it. Ibn says in his manuscript that he even wretched at the smell of the Vikings because of their vile personal hygiene!
The Viking warriors often feasted and drank to the point of unconsciousness on a regular basis. Yet, in the midst of this personal excess, the Vikings managed incredible crafts in wood carving, making the finest weapons, and adorning their swords with intricate metal forged designs! 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.
Once a huge feast was undertaken in honor of the dead Viking which also induced much drunkenness, the woman who had proclaimed she would die with the deceased one being honored would take on several sexual partners as part of the ceremony. Once the dead Viking was placed on a throne with all his worldly possessions, the woman was placed next to him then pierced through the ribs or strangled with a rope as that she would now accompany the corpse of the celebrated Viking on the final voyage to the after-life. In the finished boat strewn with sacrifices of food, animals, gold, jewelry, and silver, the ship was set adrift toward the sea. As the vessel began drifting away at a distance flaming arrows ignited the funeral ship. It burned brightly and sunk in relatively shallow waters, but was left alone and abandoned by the attendants of the barbaric sacrificial funeral.
Ibn marveled at the spectacle of fervent effort on the part of the Vikings to ensure that their comrade would be properly delivered unto the after-life which the Vikings called Valhalla, the equivalent of heaven.
A call for help
After this significant event, days later bad news came to the village. Once Buliwyf received the news the Vikings became silent with a dread that Ibn Fadian had never observed upon them before. Even Herger, Ibn’s translator refused to give a literal interpretation of what the nature of the threat was only that it was the worst danger that Vikings could endure or fight. Once this threat had been registered the Vikings made sudden planes to leave with the leader, Buliwyf saying that would he save the kingdom of Rothgar. Here it was said that the threat manifested itself.
A rescue party is organized
Thirteen of the best warriors in the village were chosen to go and save the kingdom of Rothgar, this included Herger, Buliwyf, and Fadian. Even though Ibn had been a quasi-captive to the Vikings in the beginning, now he was elected to assist in the vanquishing of an, as yet, undetermined threat as far as Ibn Fadian was concerned. Herger told him that he would find out soon enough. It is interesting to note that Viking women according to Ibn seemed boney and thin no matter how much they ate and drank alongside the men, yet they were prized by their men for having ribs that showed and high cheekbones. To Ibn, these Viking women who often giggled amongst themselves over him calling him a dark steed seemed emaciated compared to the Arab women he was accustomed to.
After setting out on a long trek that brought the Viking party through frozen shorelines, icy old cold rains, sleeping out in the open under frigid conditions which seemed to have no effect upon the Norsemen, still they pushed on. Ibn could barely keep up with his Viking counterparts who could walk great distances through the heavy snows in dense, forbidden, forests. At times he thought he would collapse from exhaustion and exposure. Ibn remembered how the brutal Vikings were very hospitable to their slaves which were usually women they sold and used for sex, yet the Norsemen pushed themselves unmercifully in the midst of their long sojourn to the Kingdom of Rothgar.
Vikings superior mariners
Ibn Fadian was very impressed by the Viking ships that he said handled the waters better than any vessel he had ever traveled in. He marveled at the stability, speed, and smooth ride of the Viking ships not to mention the skill of the crew. Even today, archeologists and engineers have come to respect the craftsmanship of the Viking ships that when reproduced to the original specifications of ancient design rival the most advanced designs of today! Fadian considered himself privileged to have ridden the waters among his Viking crew as they navigated the Volga River on their way to Rothgar. Soon they would arrive at their destination.
Arrival at Rothgar
Ibn Fadian observed that Rothgar was an impressive settlement with a gigantic wooden arched royal court with massive carved doors. The Vikings gazed upon the kingdom in awe and reverence, yet they did not respect the king. They considered him a hypocrite for building a mighty castle, but not having his own kingdom under control. His lands were being ravaged by the much feared scourge that the King, his noblemen, and subjects were living in dread of. One crewman remained in the Viking ship as the rest of the party were received by the King’s guards who actually challenged the crew disbelievingly until Buliwyf convinced them that they were there to save the kingdom.
The work of fiends
Ibn finally found out who and what it was that they would be up against as they approached the grounds of the kingdom there was a farm house they entered outside the walls of Rothgar. There, they found what had been a pleasant home and quaint farm that had been ravaged by this unspeakable menace. The family had been torn limb from limb literally. The Viking warriors showed no terror over the murders but calmly investigated the massacre site while Ibn wretched at the blood and horrible nature of the atrocities committed. The bodies had been chewed and gnarled as if by animals. Yet, the Vikings knew exactly who had committed the deed based upon the manner in which the family had been horrifically slaughtered.
Who were they?
Finally Ibn Fadian found out from Herger, the Viking translator, just who or what was responsible. The Vikings called them the Wendol. Monsters were what the Vikings considered them to be. These monstrous invaders had nearly taken over the Kingdom as the King was powerless to defend his subjects. The people of Rothgar merely existed like sheep in the presence of wolves who could take as many as they wanted whenever they wanted. To the disgust of Buliwyf, Herger, and the Viking warriors, this was unacceptable and cowardly. This was why they held the king in such low regard though they outwardly showed him respect according to Ibn.
The people were glad to see the Viking party and welcomed them, yet they privately doubted that the mighty warrior party could stop the monsters that raided their kingdom with impunity. The first night after they arrived, a feast was held. Ibn was apprehensive as he watched the Vikings eat roasted beef, lamb, and chicken. They drank mead, which Ibn denounced as the most vile liquor he had ever tasted. It was a spirit made from fermented honey. Yet, Ibn would grow to enjoy mead as time went on even to take it before going into battle and recuperating from wounds afterword.
Feast before death defying battle?
Ibn wondered why the Vikings would simply gorge themselves on a feast and drink themselves into intoxication when they were about to encounter these bloodthirsty monsters that terrorized the kingdom. There were things about them that he never could fully understand. His written observations are extraordinary as we come to understand the nature of these Norsemen who raided the coastal ports of Great Britain and plundered deep into Europe all the way through Germany and into what is now the lands of the Russian Federation. In all this, the Norsemen made artfully adorned swords, knives, shields, arrows, their trademark battle axes, iron works, and exquisite ship design, yet unleashed their savage fury upon European citizens during their raids. From accounts given by Fadian, we now know why the Viking was considered to be so invincible and legendary for his skill as a warrior as well as his fearless nature.
Sea monsters and land monsters too?
In all this there appeared to be only two things the Vikings feared with great apprehension, this Ibn Fadian attested to, the Wendol and sea serpents. The sea serpents, Ibn Fadian had been very skeptical about as he watched the Norsemen sailors point out into the seas and claim to catch a glimpse of until he saw them too. Ibn described the sea serpents as having huge snake-like bodies and showing themselves as humps in the waters. Ibn too greatly feared what he saw. One might wonder if what Ibn Fadian and the Vikings were seeing was not giant squid or whale. Yet, the Vikings did make a distinction between whales and other sea creatures.
In Part III we shall finally see who and what the Wendol were and then speculate over their true anthropological origin. Often times, eye witness accounts clash with the assumptions of modern science. These Wendol were the “Eaters of the Dead”.