The travels of Marco Polo follows Marco’s father, uncle, and himself through a journey from Europe to Asia. His father and uncle begin their journey to China without Marco first. They find themselves in the court of Kublai Khan, who wishes them to act as his messengers. He sent them back to Europe to ask the Pope for missionaries to teach his people their religion. Marco Polo was not the first European to reach China but he was the first to have his travels written about in detail. The Travels of Marco Polo is important for being an inspiration to many other European travelers such as Christopher Columbus and Polo’s writings also influenced European cartography.
The document used in this project is The Travels of Marco Polo. The 17th century Henry Yule translation was obtained from the Guttenburg Project’s website. As the text is a translation of the original work, we acknowledge the limitations of working with these sorts of materials. These sorts of shortcomings may come in the form of translations errors, misrepresented word contexts, and biases. The Henry Yule translation was selected for a number of different reasons including; ease of access, translation date, and text format. Only the actual text of the book was used through this analysis. Notes and prefaces were excluded from the study.
The first portion of the project is an analysis of the top four names mentioned in the text. Marco mentioned many people throughout his travels, but he didn’t meet all of these people, and some weren’t real, they were fictional. The research tools will show observers the context of each of the top four names, which will help them understand why he was writing about these people.
The next part of the project involves taking a closer look at the most frequently mentioned places within the text. Marco obviously traveled across vast lands and went through many different regions, so we wanted to see which places he mentioned the most. With these names, Voyant was used in order to see the contexts of each of these names within the texts.
Another element of this project is mapping of the entities mentioned throughout Yule’s translation. Since Marco’s travels are rumored to be fiction; the purpose of this portion of the project is to bring a foundation behind the place names mentioned within this text. The resources used helped place these locations on the map as well as confirm the location of others.
The final component of this project will be a text analysis focused on weather and the climatic conditions Marco Polo encountered in his travels. This text analysis looks specifically to analyze the words related to weather, and how climatic conditions are described in the translation from Project Guttenburg. Looking specifically at the transition from the Medieval Warm Period to the Little Ice Age, and the historical discourse around these events as a way to better understand the shift and add new interpretations to the Marco Polo debate.
The project as a whole is aimed at exploring this historical text in novel way and interacting with the text on a new level. The project will give our audience, which could be students, scholars, or the general public, an encompassing experience and interactive look into the travels of Marco Polo. As Marco Polo’s existence is often questioned, our individual projects hope to add new interpretations to this debate.