Sindbad the Sailor (9th c.)
Sindbad the Sailor is a fictional story that depicts a middle eastern man’s adventurous life. This story gives us some insight into what life was like in the middle east during the 9th century. During the story, after Sindbad spends all his inheritance, he sets sail to find new fortunes. Sindbad is cast away on an island after his first voyage from Barsa. He survives all the terrible dangers by being extremely resourceful. When he finally returns home, he is wealthy again. Prosperity and loss during Sindbad’s travels are a big theme throughout the story. Every tale consists of him losing his fortune and then gaining a new one.
The different sea faring voyages in the story depict exaggerated dangers that real life sailors could have experienced while sailing the oceans. The life of a merchant sailing and trading goods in the East is depicted throughout these stories. For example, we can tell that highly precious goods of the time are rare stones, pearls, sandalwood, and certain spices. After one of Sindbad’s adventures he says, “I bought fine houses and rich-farmland, concubines and eunuchs and black slaves, and became richer than I had ever been before.”[footnoteRef:1] In this passage we can see how richer people live and that they even viewed people as a form of property. These goods are what wealthy people of the time are buying, selling, and trading. In demand items can show what people of the time are using to stimulate their economies and show the types of jobs people most likely had. This also gives an idea of how the class system worked in the middle east in the 9th century. ...