A map of Marco Polo's route to and from China.
In the 13th century, a young Venetian named Marco Polo set out with his father and uncle on a great adventure. Following a series of trade routes, they traveled across the vast continent of Asia and became the first Europeans to visit the Chinese capital (modern Beijing). Marco so impressed the reigning emperor of China, Kublai Khan, that he was appointed to the imperial court. For the next 17 years, Marco was sent on missions to many parts of Kublai's sprawling empire. The Polos finally returned to Venice via the sea route. Marco later wrote a book about his experiences, which inspired new generations of explorers to travel to the exotic lands of the East.
At the completion of this lesson plan, students will be familiar with
Read through the entire lesson plan and become familiar with the content and resources. Bookmark relevant websites for later reference.
Marco Polo and his father and uncle had traveled all the way from Venice to Hormuz, a port on the Persian Gulf. From here they had hoped to travel by ship to China. But they were so concerned about the seaworthiness of the ships they found there that they changed their plans and decided instead to follow a series of trade routes across Asia to China. They set out, traveling northeast through Persia until they entered Afghanistan.
Afghanistan is a very rugged country. Find out about its geography by accessing the following website
Since very early times, most Afghans have been nomadic herders of cattle and camels. However, there are some craftsmen and merchants among them.
The Polos were now traveling along one of the main routes of the Silk Road. This network of trade routes had been used for centuries by merchants carrying products between China and the West.
A thin strip of Afghanistan protrudes eastward into China. This is where the Polos encountered a major challenge: the towering Pamir Mountains.
Once they made it across the Pamirs, the Polos arrived in Kashgar, an important trading center. This is where merchant caravans could acquire fresh pack animals, water, and food supplies. This bustling town must have been a welcome sight after the rigorous trek through the deserts and mountains!
Carefully study the photographs of modern Kashgar, still a trading center, at the following websites (available through Asia Source):
Instruct the students, working in pairs, to fill out the chart Marco Polo: From Hormuz to Kashgar in .pdf format. Then explain that Marco Polo was a very observant young man, who most likely kept a detailed diary of his travels. Have each student assume the role of Marco Polo and write an entry (or more) in his diary, describing the highlights of the journey from Hormuz to Kashgar.
1-2 class periods