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Study of Marco Polo's will sheds new light on famed traveler

From Reuters - April 17, 2018

ROME (Reuters) - On January 9, 1324, the Venetian traveler, merchant and writer Marco Polo was preparing for his final journey - to the afterlife that he as a God-fearing Christian was certain existed.

Aged 70, Polo summoned a priest-notary to his home in Venice to record his words in Latin on a sheepskin measuring about 67 x 27 cm (26 x 10 inches).

Now, a three-year study of the will by scholars and historians offers a fresh glimpse into Polo as well as more support for the commonly-held view that he visited China, which some historians had questioned.

Venices National Marciana Library, custodian of the will, has co-published a large-format book, which contains a parchment reproduction of the nearly 700-year-old will, including marks left when the sheep was sheared and ink stains on the writing side.

The work, called Ego Marcus Paulo Volo et Ordino (I, Marco Polo, Desire and Order), is intended mostly for collectors, history buffs and libraries. It was produced with Scrinium, a Venetian publishing house.

The last diplomatic transcription of the will is 150 years old, said Stefano Della Zana, Scriniums cultural director, referring to the term used by experts who study ancient letters and handwriting to produce modern interpretations.

This was done with the latest scientific techniques and scholarly standards of philology, so previous errors have been corrected, he said.

In one case, a scribbled Latin word that had previously been believed to refer to fabric was corrected to mean a residence.

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