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1/14/2013 4:26:33 PM

Clay Dube
Clay Dube
Administrator
Posts: 1920
Subject: two books focus on just this argument
Frances Wood, head of the Chinese section of the British Library, published her book with that title in 1998. Now Hans Ulrich Vogel has come out with a book arguing that Marco Polo was in China. Below are links to the books and to reviews of Wood's book.

Wood, Frances. Did Marco Polo Go to China? Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1998.
http://www.westviewpress.com/book.php?isbn=9780813389998

Blurb: We all know that Marco Polo went to China, served Ghengis Khan for many years, and returned to Italy with the recipes for pasta and ice cream. But Frances Wood, head of the Chinese Department at the British Library, argues that Marco Polo not only never went to China, he probably never even made it past the Black Sea, where his family conducted business as merchants.Marco Polo's travels from Venice to the exotic and distant East, and his epic book describing his extraordinary adventures, A Description of the World, ranks among the most famous and influential books ever published. In this fascinating piece of historical detection, marking the 700th anniversary of Polo's journey, Frances Wood questions whether Marco Polo ever reached the country he so vividly described. Why, in his romantic and seemingly detailed account, is there no mention of such fundamentals of Chinese life as tea, foot-binding, or even the Great Wall? Did he really bring back pasta and ice cream to Italy? And why, given China's extensive and even obsessive record-keeping, is there no mention of Marco Polo anywhere in the archives'Sure to spark controversy, Did Marco Polo Go to China? tries to solve these and other inconsistencies by carefully examining the Polo family history, Marco Polo's activities as a merchant, the preparation of his book, and the imperial Chinese records. The result is a lucid and readable look at medieval European and Chinese history, and the characters and events that shaped this extraordinary and enduring myth.

Vogel, Hans Ulrich. Marco Polo Was in China: New Evidence from Currencies, Salts and Revenues. Leiden, Boston: Brill (Monies, Markets and Finance in East Asia; 2), 2013.
http://www.brill.com/marco-polo-was-china

Blurb: In “Marco Polo Was in China” Hans Ulrich Vogel offers an innovative look at the highly complex topics of currencies, salt production and taxes, commercial levies and other kinds of revenue as well as the administrative geography of the Mongol Yuan empire. The author’s rigorous analysis of Chinese sources and all the important Marco Polo manuscripts as well as his thorough scrutiny of Japanese, Chinese and Western scholarship show that the fascinating information contained in Le devisament dou monde agrees almost pefectly with that we find in Chinese sources, the latter only available long after Marco Polo’s stay in China. Hence, the author concludes that, despite the doubts that have been raised, the Venetian was indeed in Khubilai Khan’s realm.

News articles:
Lewis Lord (2000): utilizing Wood http://www.usnews.com/usnews/doubleissue/mysteries/marco.htm
Jennie Cohen (2012): utilizing Vogel http://www.history.com/news/marco-polo-went-to-china-after-all-study-suggests
Andrew Moody (2012): interviewing Wood http://usa.chinadaily.com.cn/weekly/2012-08/17/content_15682500.htm

Reviews of Wood's book (Vogel's is too new):
I. de Rachewiltz: https://digitalcollections.anu.edu.au/bitstream/1885/41883/1/Marcopolo.html
Morris Rossabi: http://afe.easia.columbia.edu/mongols/pop/polo/mp_essay.htm
Karl J. Schmidt: http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/journal_of_world_history/v010/10.1schmidt.html
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7/29/2013 8:03:45 PM

Clay Dube
Clay Dube
Administrator
Posts: 1920
Subject:
A special issue of The Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society is devoted to how textiles were used as money on the silk road. Access to the issue is free (at least for the moment):

http://journals.cambridge.org/jrassilkroad
edited by Clay Dube on 7/29/2013
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1/11/2015 10:09:26 AM

jcazares
jcazares
Posts: 36
Subject: Did Marco Polo go to China?
There seems to be a trend that much of history as we know it is being challenged. Our Euro/western-centric view of history is, it seems, being challenged in this day and age. Much of the 19th and 20th centuries revolved politically around imperialist policies of the Western nations who had industrialized and who were in competition for resources and prestige. Now, Imperialism is a "dirty word" and it seems acceptable to some in the historical community to challenge the old notions that the West is responsible for all of the progress made in our world both now and throughout history. This theory that Marco Polo never made it to China offers a valuable chance for students to read articles from both sides of the argument and decide for themselves based on the evidence or lack thereof. It is an opportunity for Socratic style discussion in the classroom where the students lead discussion amongst eachother and dive deeper into the history and skill of reasoning and argument, which is a huge part of the new Common Core Standards. It can be time consuming, but it is worth the time if you can fit it in.
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3/25/2015 4:30:46 PM

jevink
jevink
Posts: 45
Subject:
I have always heard, from multiple sources in my college years and now if the textbook and videos that I'm using for my classes that Marco Polo went to China. Just today, I told my students that Marco Polo, wrote a book on Asia that led to an European interest in China's goods. Also, the video that I showed them in class said the same thing.
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3/25/2015 4:32:51 PM

jevink
jevink
Posts: 45
Subject:
The fact the new evidence can be discovered constantly is one of the reasons that I loved history. Although, it contradicts what I have always thought about Marco Polo, I'm willing to look into the new evidence mentioned in Frances Wood's book.
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5/16/2015 12:30:01 AM

malvarenga
malvarenga
Posts: 88
Subject: No Clear Answer
I recently read two articles that tried to answer the question, “Did Marco Polo really go to China?” The first article, “Marco Polo Really Did Go to China, Maybe” by Rosella Lorenzi is dated Apr 23, 2012. After reading the article I found myself with no clear answer and several questions that would require further reading. Thinking back to our classroom discussion and the information presented, there is no piece of information that will provide a crystal clear answer. There are strong arguments on both ends. I am not ready to make an opinion as I need to research the topic further. According to the article, “The strongest evidence is that he provided complex and detailed information about monetary conditions, salt production, public revenues and administrative geography that have been overlooked so far, but are fully corroborated in Chinese sources." On the other hand, some researchers believe that Marco Polo was a great story and could’ve made up his encounters. Others believe that he heard this accounts and claimed them as his own. Evidence supporting the latter idea is that he does not mention The Great Wall and/or cultural rituals in his stories.

http://news.discovery.com/history/macro-polo-120423.htm

The second article, “Marco Polo Really did go to China After All, Studies Suggests” by Jenni Cohen is also dated in April 2012. While this article does not provide an answer to the great question, it does mention Frances Wood’s argument that “his travelogue leaves out the Great Wall of China, the practice of binding women’s feet, chopsticks and tea drinking, among other details; furthermore, Chinese documents from Polo’s day make no mention of the explorer and his retinue.” After the readings and discussions, I am intrigued with the question at hand. While I have not had time to sit down and compare books and research on this issue, it will definitely be on my “to-do” list for the summer.

http://www.history.com/news/marco-polo-went-to-china-after-all-study-suggests
edited by malvarenga on 5/16/2015
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5/18/2015 5:23:30 PM

sbeltran
sbeltran
Posts: 38
Subject:
As we discussed Marco Polo, I came to realized how little I knew about this character that is specially important to history. I have now found myself looking and reading more information about him and his trips to China.http://www.biography.com/people/marco-polo-9443861
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12/16/2015 9:28:46 PM

Clay Dube
Clay Dube
Administrator
Posts: 1920
Subject: hans ulrich vogel says he definitely went
From the H-Asia discussion list.
From: Hans Ulrich Vogel <hans-ulrich.vogel@uni-tuebingen.de>
Membership publication: Hans Ulrich Vogel, _Marco Polo Was in China: New Evidence from Currencies, Salts and Revenues_, Leiden, Boston: Brill (Monies, Markets and Finance in East Asia; 2), 2013.
Abstract:
In “Marco Polo Was in China” Hans Ulrich Vogel offers an innovative look at the highly complex topics of currencies, salt production and taxes, commercial levies and other kinds of revenue as well as the administrative geography of the Mongol Yuan empire. The author’s rigorous analysis of Chinese sources and all the important Marco Polo manuscripts as well as his thorough scrutiny of Japanese, Chinese and Western scholarship show that the fascinating information contained in Le devisament dou monde agrees almost pefectly with that we find in Chinese sources, the latter only available long after Marco Polo’s stay in China. Hence, the author concludes that, despite the doubts that have been raised, the Venetian was indeed in Khubilai Khan’s realm.

Author:
Hans Ulrich Vogel, Ph.D. (1983) in Sinology, Zürich University is Professor for Chinese History and Society at Tübingen University. He has published monographs, articles and translations mainly on the history of society, economy, science and technology in premodern China. Presently he his working on his contribution “The Salt Industry” to Joseph Needham’s “Science and Civilisation in China” series.

For publisher’s announcement see: http://www.brill.com/marco-** polo-was-china <http://www.brill.com/marco-polo-was-china>
For access to the first 120 pages of the book, including the table of contents, see: http://books.google.de/books/**about/Marco_Polo_Was_in_China
edited by Clay Dube on 12/16/2015
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