Many Arab travel narratives from the 800s and 900s are filled with fantastic stories of doubtful accuracy. One traveler named Ibn Fadlan, however, gave a very level account of his visit to the Bulgars, a people in southern Russia who had recently converted to Islam.
In A.D. 921, Fadlan was sent to advise the Bulgars on their new religion. While he stayed with the Bulgars, Fadlan observed the Rus, a people who had descended from Vikings. Fadlan described the Rus as a dirty, primitive group that still worshipped pagan gods.
With grim detail, Fadlan described a king’s funeral, where a female slave was gruesomely sacrificed and laid alongside the dead chief in a ship. The ship was then burned.