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The Mysteries of the Marco Polo Maps$
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Benjamin B. Olshin

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780226149820

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226149967.001.0001

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To the Distant East

To the Distant East

(p.38) Three To the Distant East
The Mysteries of the Marco Polo Maps

Benjamin B. Olshin

University of Chicago Press

This chapter introduces the “Map with Ship”, the only part of this collection not privately held—it currently resides in the Geography and Map Division of the Library of Congress. The map is a strange amalgam with a series of peninsulas and islands in a kind of stylized frame, along with a rather crude rendering of a sailing ship. The map shows the northeastern part of Asia, a strait, and land beyond. This chapter also examines other maps in the collection, including one that apparently has a Latin translation of the text of the “golden tablet” given to Marco Polo by Kublai Khan. Most interesting is the idea suggested by these materials that there was vague knowledge, already in the thirteenth century, of the far northwestern regions of North America, just beyond the Bering Strait.

Keywords:   Library of Congress, Bering Strait, Kublai Khan, golden tablet

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