I watched the 13th Warrior again recently, after reading Ibn Fadlans’ journey to Russia: a tenth-century traveller from Baghdad to the Volga River, it’s a great film, and material in uses from Ibn Fadlans book is reasonably accurate. Ibn Fadlan journay takes him across Iran and Central Asia then to Russia, these parts of the book are very interesting too as he recounts the various people and customs. However, its his Viking encounter that’s the most famous thanks to the film the 13th Warrior.
The hymn ‘I see my line of ancestors’ is based on a last rite hymn in the film the 13th Warrior. For a more exact translation of the hymn see Ibn Fadlans’ journey to Russia: a tenth-century traveller from Baghdad to the Volga River by Prof Richard Frye (Markus Wiener, 2006) p69. The boat burial rite is also mentioned in detail in the book.
This is the first English translation of the famous risala, letters by the tenth-century traveler Ibn Fadlan, one of the great Medieval travelers in world history, akin to Ibn Batutta. Ibn Fadlan was an Arab missionary sent by the Caliph in Baghdad to the king of the Bulghars. He journeyed from Baghdad to Bukhara in Central Asia and then continued across the desert to the town of Bulghar, near present Kazan. He describes the tribes he meets on his way and gives an account of their customs. His is the earliest account of a meeting with the Vikings, called Rus, who had reached the Volga River from Sweden. His description of the Rus, or Rusiya as he calls them, has produced much discussion about their origins, shockingly free sexual morals standards, customs, treatment of slaves and women, burial traditions, and trading habits, all explained in detail by Ibn Fadlan. The story of his travels has fascinated scholars and even prompted Michael Chrichton to write the popular novel “Eaters of the Dead,” which was made into a film entitled “The 13th Warrior.”