The Epic Journey of Marco Polo

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Perhaps no land journey in human history is more famous than Marco Polo’s legendary 24 year trek across Asia. As described in his 1299 book, The Description of the World, the peripatetic Venetian merchant encountered such wonders as the "singing sand dunes" of Dunhuang, China, "mountains of salt" in present-day Afghanistan, and the glories of the Mongol court of Kublai Khan. Generations of Europeans were spellbound by Polo’s account, yet in recent years some scholars have questioned its authenticity. For an extensive three part series in National Geographic, veteran photographer Michael Yamashita put the famed Venetian’s reputation to the ultimate test using Polo’s own book as his travel guide for a journey in the celebrated explorer’s footsteps.

Yamashita retraced Polo’s route across ten countries, from Venice through restricted areas in Iraq and war zones in Afghanistan, over the old Silk Road into China and back again by way of Southeast Asia and India. Along the way he encountered many landmarks and peoples documented in the Description, deepening his conviction that Polo’s account is indeed authentic. Yamashita will share dazzling images and fascinating stories from his own journey to the East, while making a strong, personal case for the veracity of the reports of his 13th- century predecessor. Yamashita’s search for Marco Polo is now the subject of a series of documentary films scheduled to air on the National Geographic Channel Asia. The first in this series, Marco Polo: The China Mystery Revealed, focuses on remote and rarely visited areas of China, a land time has forgotten and where life has remained relatively unchanged for the past 700 years.

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