Marco polo

Suspect Name: Polo, Marco
Birthplace: Venice, Italy
Birth date:
Eyes: Brown
Hair: Brown
Height: 5’7”
Weight: 140 lbs
Occupation: Merchant
Artist renderings, no photos of suspect exist
Case Summary
In 1298 Marco Polo of Venice was arrested and put in prison in Genoa. Venice and
Genoa were involved in a civil war and Polo was charged with serving the Venetian
army. He was imprisoned without a trial.
Polo offered a unique defense. He argued that he owed no loyalty to Venice since he
had been gone for over 20 years. Further, he claimed that those 20 years were spent
in China. While in jail he told his story to his cellmate Rusticello who wrote the
story in a book called Description of the World and later, The Travels of Marco Polo.
Even in his time people doubted the stories in the book. They seemed far too
fantastic to the people of Europe. It is important to note, however, that Europe had
not yet seen the Renaissance and in many ways their technology was well behind
that of China. What seemed like “magic” to them was simple science to the Chinese.
Also, it is impossible to know exactly what parts were added by Rusticello to simply
add excitement to the story. However, Polo swore on his deathbed that his story
was true, adding “I have not even told you half of what I saw.”
While most historians have chosen to accept that Polo did visit China there are
many who continue to argue that he did not. Your job is to examine the evidence
and determine the answer.
Did Marco Polo ever reach China or did he simply make up the story based on what
he heard from other travelers?
You decide.
Marco Polo’s
Last Will and Testament
Here in his will Polo indicates he received a “golden
tablet” from the Kahn himself. Polo’s tablet has not
been found by historians but others matching his
description have been found in China. Shown below
are a picture from his book showing the tablet and a
modern recreation of what they may have looked like.
"By the strength of the eternal
Heaven, holy be the Khan's
name. Let him that pays him not
reverence be killed."
Peter the Tartar
Here Polo mentions the servant he claims to have been given
while living in China. The Tartars were a group of people living
in China at the time.
"Also I release Peter the Tartar, my servant, from all bondage,
as completely as I pray God to release mine own soul from all
sin and guilt. And I also remit him whatever he may have
gained by work at his own house; and over and above I
bequeath him 100 lire of Venice denari."
Five years later the city of Venice gave to this same Peter all
the rights of a Venetian citizen, so this person did in fact exist.
But just calling Peter a "Tartar" does not necessarily mean
that Marco Polo bought Peter in the Far East. Most slaves
used in Venice, no matter where they were brought in from,
were called Tartars.
Presented here is a copy of Marco Polo’s will. A will
is a document that spells out what a person will
leave to their family and friends when they die.
There is no doubt among historians that it is truly
Polo’s will. There is great doubt, however, in some
of the things he has listed to leave to his friends
and family.
The Creature of Sumatra
“In Sumatra they have wild elephants and plenty
of unicorns, which are scarcely smaller than
elephants. They have the hair of a buffalo and
feet like an elephant’s. They have a single large,
black horn in the middle of the forehead. They do
not attack with their horn, but only with their
tongue and their knees; for their tongues are
furnished with long, sharp spines, so that when
they want to do any harm to anyone they first
crush him by kneeling upon him and then lacerate
him with their tongues."
These (Blemmyae, Sciopod, Wildman) are not found in
Marco’s text – only as illustrations in early manuscripts.
They are found in other European mythologies and
described by other explorers.
Angamanain is a very large Island. The people are without a king and
are Idolaters, and no better than wild beasts. And I assure you all
the men of this Island of Angamanain have heads like dogs, and
teeth and eyes likewise; in fact, in the face they are all just like big
mastiff dogs! They have a quantity of spices; but they are a most
cruel generation, and eat everybody that they can catch, if not of
their own race. They live on flesh and rice and milk, and have fruits
different from any of ours.
Illustration from a version of the book printed in the 1450s. Not from the original work.
Beijing Bridge
Over this River there is a very fine stone bridge, so fine
indeed, that it has very few equals. The fashion of it is this: it
is 300 paces in length, and it must have a good eight paces of
width, for ten mounted men can ride across it abreast. It has
24 arches and as many water-mills, and 'tis all of very fine
marble, well built and firmly founded. Along the top of the
bridge there is on either side a parapet of marble slabs and
columns, made in this way. At the beginning of the bridge
there is a marble column, and under it a marble lion, so that
the column stands upon the lion's loins, whilst on the top of
the column there is a second marble lion, both being of great
size and beautifully executed sculpture. At the distance of a
pace from this column there is another precisely the same,
also with its two lions, and the space between them is closed
with slabs of grey marble to prevent people from falling over
into the water. And thus the columns run from space to
space along either side of the bridge, so that altogether it is
a beautiful object.
What things do you think of when you think of
China? The Great Wall? Strange looking
writing? How about chopsticks? China is a very
unique land with lots of things that stand out.
Marco Polo, oddly, didn’t mention many of them.
Shown here are some of the more obvious
things he left out. None of the things shown here
are mentioned in Polo’s book.
Writing is considered an art in China.
Calligraphers would spend years perfecting
their technique and were greatly respected.
Food and Drink
Chinese Tea Set
Bamboo Chopsticks
Tea Ceremony
The Annals of Yuan Shih
The Mongols kept very detailed records of almost everything. This
was a practice they copied from the Chinese. The names of all
visitors to the Kahn’s court would have been recorded.
Below you will find a copy of the record from 1266, the year
Marco Polo claims he arrived in the capital city.
Diaochan / 貂蝉
Da Qiao / 大喬
Cai Wenji / 蔡文姫
Chousen / 貂蝉
Dai Kyou / 大喬
Sai Bunki / 蔡文姫
Dong Zhuo / 董卓
Ding Feng / 丁奉
Cao Cao / 曹操
Tou Taku / 董卓
Tei Hou / 丁奉
Sou Sou / 曹操
Lü Bu / 呂布
Gan Ning / 甘寧
Cao Pi / 曹丕
Ryo Fu / 呂布
Kan Nei / 甘寧
Sou Hi / 曹丕
Huo / 孟獲
Huang Gai / 黃蓋
Cao Ren / / 曹仁
Mou Kaku / 孟獲
Kou Gai / 黃蓋
Sou Jin / 曹仁
Yuan Shao / 袁紹
Ling Tong / 凌統
Dian Wei / 典韋
En Shou / 袁紹
Ryou Tou / 凌統
Ten I / 典韋
Zhang Jiao / 張角
Lü Meng / 呂蒙
Jim Xu / 賈詡
Chou Kaku / 張角
Ryo Mou / 呂蒙
Ka Ku / 賈詡
Zhu Rong / 祝融
Lu Xun / 陸遜
Pang De / 龐徳
Shuku Yuu / 祝融
Riku Son / 陸遜
Hou Toku / 龐徳
Zuo Ci / 左慈
Sun Ce / 孫策
Xiahou Dun / 夏侯惇
Sa Ji / 左慈
Son Saku / 孫策
Kakou Ton / 夏侯惇
Ai / 鄧艾
Sun Jian / 孫堅
Xiahou Yuan / 夏侯淵
Tou Gai / 鄧艾
Son Ken / 孫堅
Kakou En / 夏侯淵
Guo Huai / 郭淮
Sun Quan / 孫權
Xu Huang / 徐晃
Wai / 郭淮
Sun Shang Xiang / 孫尚香
Jo Kou / 徐晃
Sima Shi / 司馬師
Son Shouka / 孫尚香
Xu Zhu / 許褚
Wu Shi / 司馬師
Taishi Ci / / 太史慈
Kyo Cho / 許褚
Sima Yi / 司馬懿
Taishi Ji / 太史慈
Zhang He / 張郃
Wu I / 司馬懿
Xiao Qiao / 小喬
Chou Kou / 張郃
Zhao / 司馬昭
Syou Kyou / 小喬
Zhang Liao / 張遼
Wu Shou / 司馬昭
Zhou Tai / 周泰
Chou Ryou / 張遼
Yuanji / 王元姫
Syuu Tai / 周泰
Zhen Ji / 甄姫
Ou Genki / 王元姫
Zhou Yu / / 周瑜
Sin Ki / 甄姫
Xiahou Ba / 夏侯霸
Syuu Yu / 周瑜
Zhuge Dan / 諸葛誕
Kakou Ha / 夏侯霸
Nobunaga / 信長
Jo Ka / 女媧
Zhong Hui / 鍾會
Nü Wa / 女媧
Toukichi / とーきち
Guan Ping/ 關平
Kan Pei / 關平
Guan Yu / 關羽
Kan U / 關羽
Huang Zhong / 黄忠
Kou Chuu / 黄忠
Jiang Wei / 姜維
Kyou I / 姜維
Liu Bei / 劉備
Ryuu Bi / 劉備
Ma Chao / 馬超
Ba Chou / 馬超
Ma Dai / 馬岱
Ba Tai / 馬岱
Pang Tong / 龐統
Hou Tou / 龐統
Wei Yan / 魏延
Gi En / 魏延
Xing Cai / 星彩
Sei Sai / 星彩
Yue Ying / 月英
Getsu Ei / 月英
Zhang Fei / 張飛
Chou Hi / 張飛
Zhao Yun / 趙雲
Chou Un / 趙雲
Zhuge Liang / 諸葛亮
Shokatsu Ryou / 諸葛亮
Fu Xi / 伏羲
Si Se/ 伏羲
Fuku Gi / 伏羲
Wei Liang / 姜維
Meng Huong / 孟獲
Jan Kyou / 姜維
Kaku Yao / 孟獲
Hou Chi / 張飛
Shao Lin / 袁紹
Zhao Yun / 趙雲
En Shou / 袁紹
Chou Un / 趙雲
Jiao Wen / 張角
Liang Bo / 諸葛亮
Chou Kaku / 張角
Shokatsu Ryou / 諸葛亮 Zhu Rong / 祝融
Fu Xi / 伏羲
Shuku Yuu / 祝融
Fuku Gi / 伏羲
Zuo Ci / 左慈
Tokatsu Tan / 諸葛誕
Wu I / 司馬懿
Bei Liu / 劉備
Sima Zhao / 司馬昭
Kyuu Zi / 劉備
Wu Shou / 司馬昭
Pa Cao / 馬超
Wang Yuanji / 王元姫
Ba Chou / 馬超
Ou Genki / 王元姫
Yuan Ging/ 關平
Xiahou Ba / 夏侯霸
Khan Wei / 關平
Hakou Den / 夏侯霸
Guan Sung / 關羽
Zhong Hui / 鍾會
Kan U / 關羽
Sa Ji / 左慈
Guang Yong / 黄忠
Deng Ai / 鄧艾
Kou Chuu / 黄忠
Tou Gai / 鄧艾
Ma Dai / 馬岱
Guai Han / 郭淮
Ja Mai / 馬岱
Kaku Wai / 郭淮
Pang Long / 龐統
Shi Shang / 司馬師
Hou Zhou / 龐統
Wu Shi / 司馬師
Wei Ban / 魏延
Yuma Tang/ 司馬懿
Kong Ping/ 曹操
Chan Do / 貂蝉
Tao Ren / 曹丕
Ghoujen / 貂蝉
Jan Hu/ 曹丕
Tong Zhuo / 董卓
Jin Wun/ / 曹仁
Taku Ba / 董卓
Gi Hen / 魏延
Bu Fu/ 呂布
Xing Pai / 星彩
Ryu Fo / 呂布
Mei Mai / 星彩
Bou Kyou / 張遼
Yue Ying / 月英
Wi Khen / 甄姫
Tetsu Wei / 月英
Sanji Pao / 蔡文姫
Fang Zhei / 張飛
Pi Long / 曹丕
Wang Chung/ 蔡文姫
Hi Zho/ 曹丕
Ni Hao/ 曹操
Cao Ken / / 曹仁
Zhou Jin / 曹仁
Jou Win / 曹仁
Wian Wei / 典韋
Yuan Wei / 典韋
Mok Tril/ 典韋
Baken Ik / 典韋
Dang Koz/ 鄧艾
Zu Xin / 賈詡
Gait Lok/ 鄧艾
Bu Luang / 徐晃
Guai Han / 郭淮
Co Chou / 徐晃
Jak Bok/ 郭淮
Zu Zhu / 許褚
Tak Bel/ 大喬
Maku Tai/ 賈詡
Chi Kan/ 大喬
Kia Yuu / 甄姫
Zheng He/ 丁奉
Zhuge Dan / 諸葛誕
Da Cao/ 丁奉
Fon Kyou/ 女媧
Gou Kai / 黃蓋
Ting Long / 凌統
Zhou Tou / 凌統
Syuu Tai / 周泰
Song Yu / / 周瑜
Yu Tang / 周瑜
Jin Nobunaga / 信長
Banü Ja / 女媧
Meng Lu / 呂蒙
Ryo Mou / 呂蒙
Lu Xun / 陸遜
Ka Diao / 大喬
Kyai Kou / 大喬
Deng Zing / 丁奉
Wei Hou / 丁奉
Jan Bing / 甘寧
Khan Yei / 甘寧
Guang Hai / 黃蓋
Son Riku / 陸遜
Yun Zhe / 孫策
Son Baku / 孫策
Jun Jian / 孫堅
Son Ken / 孫堅
Sun Quan / 孫權
Sun Shang / 孫尚香
Son Shouka / 孫尚香
Qin Taishi / / 太史慈
Taishi Ji / 太史慈
Xiao Qiao / 小喬
Syou Kyou / 小喬
Zhou Tai / 周泰
Touki Chiba/とーきち
Luk Pu/ 趙雲
Chun Li/ 趙雲
Long Bo / 諸葛亮
Hadu Ken/ 諸葛亮
Zan Gif/ 伏羲
Mi Bison/ 伏羲
Lu Beka/ 諸葛誕
Hung Pi/ 劉備
Lik Pu/ 劉備
Hu Lu/ 馬超
Jin Sho / 司馬昭
Wu Shou / 司馬昭
Por Ran/ 王元姫
Dok Kat/ 王元姫
Ban Zhou / 夏侯霸
Hakou Den / 夏侯霸
Kyo Cho / 許褚
Zhing Tze / 張郃
Kou Kou / 張郃
Zhang Liao / 張遼
Zhou Ryou / 張遼
Ji Khen / 甄姫
Ki Yuan / 甄姫
Zhuge Dan / 諸葛誕
Don Ka / 女媧
Toukichi / とーきち
Wenji Cao / 蔡文姫
Tai Bunji / 蔡文姫
Liao Pao / 曹操
Sou Sou / 曹操
Tao Pi / 曹丕
Sou Hi / 曹丕
Cao Ren / / 曹仁
Zhou Jin / 曹仁
Wian Wei / 典韋
Ten I / 典韋
Xu Jin / 賈詡
Xu Huang / 徐晃
Jo Kou / 徐晃
Xu Zhu / 許褚
Ka Ku / 賈詡
Pang De / 龐徳
Hou Toku / 龐徳
Dun Wo / 夏侯惇
Zaho Ton / 夏侯惇
Yuan Ti / 夏侯淵
Kakou En / 夏侯淵
Zhong Hui / 鍾會
Rustichello da Pisa was the author of The Travels of Marco
Polo. He was a fairly well known writer before writing the
book. A few scanned pages of his works are provided for
Interrogation Transcript of Mr. Marco Polo
(Translated from original Italian)
MARCO POLO: (INAUDIBLE) because I really did go there!
DETECTIVE STONE: So, you went to China. How then do you explain your name not appearing in the
records? Surely an Italian would have stood out enough to be in them right?
MARCO POLO: How do you know I’m not in the records? Do you speak Mongolian? You were looking for
the name “Marco Polo” I assume? That’s not my Mongol name so why would it appear in the record that
DETECTIVE STONE: So, what is your Mongol name?
MARCO POLO: Look, why would I tell you? You’re the detective. Prove me guilty if you can but I’m not
going to help you.
DETECTIVE STONE: Fine. Why didn’t you write about The Great Wall or (INAUDIBLE) in your book?
MARCO POLO: The great what? The only thing “great” in China was the Kahn. There were walls around
the cities sure but nothing called a “Great Wall” As for the other thing, I’ve never heard of it either. We
drank goat’s milk, water and wine. Nothing like what you’re describing – are you trying to trick me?!
DETECTIVE STONE: Is there anything you left out of your book that you’d like to go on record as seeing?
MARCO POLO: Did you even read the book? I said at the end I saw twice as much as I could ever describe
in a book. Of course I saw more.
DETECTIVE STONE: Anything specific?
MARCO POLO: Not that I’d want to tell you.
DETECTIVE STONE: I can see you aren’t going to cooperate – just one final question. Can you tell me
what this says?
MARCO POLO: (INAUDIBLE) so I don’t know – mostly looks like some kind of squiggle writing.
DETECTIVE STONE: It’s Chinese – are you sure you don’t know what it says?
MARCO POLO: I never bothered to learn Chinese so no; I don’t know what it says. I’m done with this
nonsense. I have nothing more to say.
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