Sent to observe and infiltrate the government of Kublai Khan, Marco participated in Chinese explorations in the Canadian Arctic and along America’s West Coast during the 13th century. Examination of the documents by researchers at the New World Discovery Institute in Seattle was completed in October of 2011.
The assessment of the historical importance of the Rossi Collection of maps and letters, mostly by Marco Polo’s daughters, involved radiocarbon analysis, interviews with the Italian-American family that inherited the documents, evaluation of Diagnostic Geographical Markers in the maps, and investigation of imbedded clues that were identified in the letters. The Polo Brothers returned to Venice in 1295.
The agents had in their possession the earliest maps of America’s West Coast, a chart showing the route of the Northwest Passage, and the technology for making the first firearms in Europe. In the 1970s, archeologists working in China discovered bronze gun barrels at Heilongjiang in Manchuria. Yuan Chinese infantry used the guns in 1288 to suppress an uprising. Prior to the 1970s, most historians assumed that the Chinese didn’t have firearms with metal barrels until they supposedly acquired the technology from the Portuguese in the 16th century. However, translations of the Marco Polo documents and the assessment of embedded clues provide the first evidence of how the Chinese invention of firearms reached Europe: the technology was brought directly by espionage agents in the Polo Family.
They were mentioned by Bellela Polo in a letter dated to c.1330. Marco Polo called his Chinese gun the archibugo (or “harquebus”). The Provençal word means “hook-barrel.” Some variation of this enigmatic word was used for all the ancient smoothbore firearms in Europe. The prevalence of this term has baffled modern historians, because none of the European weapons actually had any sort of hook on the wrought-iron barrels. However, Chinese antiquarians have found hooks on cast-bronze barrels from early Ming Dynasty muskets.
The “hook” was part of the casting beneath the firing chamber; and it was used to hold the barrel in the wooden stock. European gunsmiths used metal bands for holding wrought-iron barrels to wooden stocks. Marco Polo’s daughters (Fantina, Bellela, and Moretta) wrote down the Old Man’s tales of Arctic and New World adventure stories; and they sent out copies of the letters and maps to the women’s salons of Northern Italy. In this manner, the women learned about “a vast new land” that was situated east of Siberia. According to Moretta’s keynote explaining the map, Marco traveled along a chain of islands (the Aleutians) to a large peninsula of seals (Alaska).
A sandy desert (California) was situated 3,000 miles from the Tartar Empire of Kublai Khan. Her letter was dated 1329. In another document, Moretta noted that a Tartar Tribe migrated from the Hia Hsia Region of China; and they settled along the coast of the New Land—which they named Fucan (or “marine seal”). Islands in this region of New Land east of Asia included “Vitiperia and Purpuraria.” Incredibly, the Greek geographer Claudius Ptolemy, living in 2nd century Alexandria, referred to these isles as part of the legendary “Fortunate Islands” that were believed to be situated far across the Atlantic Ocean.
These isles, and Marco’s identification of the Chinese Eastern Sea as Ptolemy’s Sinus Magnus (or Great Gulf), implies early Roman knowledge of Ancient America and the Pacific Ocean. Thompson’s team of history sleuths verified the great age of the documents by using a test for radiocarbon in a document called “the Pantect Map.” This map clearly shows the Aleutian Islands, Alaska Peninsula, and the Pacific Ocean.
A sample of vellum (calfskin) from this document was tested in 2007 by the University of Arizona Mass Spectrometry Laboratory. A similar test was conducted on a sample taken from the “Map with Ship” which has been in the Library of Congress since the 1930s. The results of both tests (1560 +/-100) showed that the vellum used in making the maps and letters dates to the 16th century. According to Thompson, a date on one of the documents suggests that the original maps and letters were copied in 1556 by a notary service near Naples. The remote possibility that the documents were forged is ruled out by several factors.
First, the Rossi Family tradition says that the documents were kept in the possession of family members.
Second, Diagnostic Geographical Markers in the Polo maps are also found in an authentic Song Chinese Map (1137) in the British Museum.
Third, the letters have thirty words that serve as “imbedded clues,” such as “wooden swords,” “Hia Tribe,” “fucan,” archibugi, and “Marta Veniero.” These are words that otherwise make no sense to historians. Finally, the entire collection was inventoried by staff at the Library of Congress and by independent geographers in the 1930s. This was before the advent of radiocarbon testing (in the 1950s), thus all the professionals assumed that the documents that included New Lands must have been recent fabrications.
It wasn’t until the Rossi Family asked the Institute to take another look at the Collection that anybody bothered to conduct a modern forensic examination. The documents are really old. Even copies of the original maps and letters are nearly 500 years old. This Collection constitutes a veritable “Time Capsule” regarding the secret operations of Venetian technological spies; and it provides us with a rare glimpse into the secretive activities of the women’s salons in the Early Renaissance.
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