What Did Marco Polo Discover?

Although Marco Polo is not known for any particular discoveries, he was one of the first Europeans to explore the Far East. He traveled farther than any explorers before him, journeying for over 24 years on the Silk Road, documenting the foreign culture, technology and civilizations.

The account of Marco Polo’s extensive journey through Asia was written by Rustichello of Pisa, who was a romance writer that Marco Polo met in jail. This book, “The Travels of Marco Polo,” made Marco Polo famous. Many skeptics doubted the veracity of Marco Polo’s dictated claims, but he steadfastly proclaimed that his memoirs were accurate, declaring, “I have not told half of what I saw” as he lay on his deathbed.

Marco Polo is credited for introducing many advanced Chinese technologies to the Western world. Paper money and the use of coal are two of the main concepts that did not become common until Marco Polo introduced them. It is also speculated that Marco Polo introduced eyeglasses to Europe.

Marco Polo heavily influenced many explorers to come, including Christopher Columbus, who was an avid admirer and carried Marco Polo’s book with him on his voyage to the New World. He planned on continuing Marco Polo’s work by contacting the successor to Kublai Kahn, who was one of Marco Polo’s main friends and employers during his travels.