The Travels Of Benjamin Of Tudela

The motivations of intrepid travelers are not difficult to discern.  The desire to get out, to get away from everything that reeks of contemptible familiarity, to smash through obstacles and barriers both mental and physical, to be confronted with stimuli both terrifying and strange:  these would be primary impulses.  Following close behind them would be a thirst to seek one’s fortune, to take a certain measure of the world and its people, and to test one’s mettle against the mettlesome natures of others.  It has been so for centuries.

Continue reading

Ibn Fadlan’s Unique Travels In Central Asia And Rus

The name of Ibn Fadlan (أحمد بن فضلان بن العباس بن راشد) has received some notoriety in recent years, primarily due to fictionalized accounts of his travels in print and film.  Enthusiasts of travel literature who have taken the time to read his work will find, however, that his actual travels have little to do with these sensationalized tales.  His book is of great value to modern ethnographers; for it remains the only first-hand account we have of the customs and habits of Viking communities in Russia during the medieval period.

Continue reading