A thorough new study of Chinese sources by University of Tübingen Sinologist Hans Ulrich Vogel dispels claims that Venice’s most famous traveler never truly went as far as China.
It has been said that Marco Polo did not really go to China; that he merely cobbled together his information about it from journeys to the Black Sea, Constantinople and Persia and from talking to merchants and reading now-lost Persian books. But in Marco Polo was in China: New Evidence from Currencies, Salts and Revenues, (Brill Verlag) Hans Ulrich Vogel, Professor of Chinese Studies at the University of Tübingen, puts paid to such rumors. He begins with a comprehensive review of the arguments for and against, and follows it up with evidence from relevant Chinese, Japanese, Italian, French, German and Spanish literature. The result is compelling: despite a few, well-known problems with Marco Polo’s writings, they are supported by an overwhelming number of verified accounts about China containing unique information given over centuries. Read more.
Marco Polo, the man famed as one of history’s greatest explorers, may in fact have been one of history’s greatest conmen, it was claimed today.
Far from being Italy’s legendary traveller and trader who spent years in China and the Far East, he probably never went further east than the Black Sea, according to a team of archaeologists.
They suspect the Venetian adventurer picked up stories about the mysterious lands of the Orient from fellow traders around the Black Sea who related tales of China, Japan and the Mongol Empire in the 13th century.
He then put the stories together in a book commonly called The Travels of Marco Polo, which purports to be his account of his journeys through Persia, Asia and the Far East between 1271 and 1291.
Hailed as one of the first travel books, it details his relations with Kublai Khan, the Mongol ruler who became Emperor of China.
But now an Italian team of archaeologists studying in Japan have cast doubts about one of Italy’s great national heroes — although there have been competing claims to him from Croatia, which argues he was born there. Read more.