Saturday, January 14, 2012

Marco Polo Study: Afghanistan

~photo courtesy of Google maps

Afghanistan has cold mountains with air so pure and so "salubrious" that many go there to recover their health. In fact, Marco went there when fighting an illness himself. The mountains were full of precious stones and metals to be mined: Balas Rubies, lapis lazuli, chalcedony, jasper, silver, copper and lead. The air is so thin that cooking fires do not give off the same amount of heat. 

Balas Ruby

Marco noted the horses of superior quality and great speed. Their hoves were so hard that they did not require shoeing. He saw the Saker falcon, goshawks, and sparrow hawks. The trout and other fish were in plenty.

Saker Falcon

There were many gardens, orchards, and vineyards. The land produced barley, wheat, rice, nuts, sesame (they make nut oil and sesame oil), cotton, flax, and hemp.

sesame seeds

There roam wild sheep of 400-600 in a flock. A large type of sheep having horns, up to six palms in length, was found in this area (upon its verification of existence it was named Ovis Poli after Marco Polo). The horns were used as "ladles and vessels for holding vituals." Fences were constructed out of them as well, to protect the cattle from wolves.

Ovis Poli

The men were good archers and excellent sportsmen. They wore skins of wild animals. The women wore pendent rings of gold and silver, adorned with pearls and precious stones. In other areas, the women wore a kind of garment out of fine cotton cloth that was gathered or plaited at the hips.  In one area, the people were "afflicted with swellings in the legs and tumours in the throat." This tumor affliction seems to be goitre. We now know that goitres are caused by a lack of iodine.

lapis lazuli

Camels were used in preference to other beasts of burden when making a trek over sandy plains or barren mountains. Traveling through this area, people are often inflicted with "extraordinary illusions." Marco states: "During the day-time, any persons remaining behind on the road, either when overtaken by sleep or detained by their natural occasions, until the caravan has passed a hill and is no longer in sight, they unexpectedly hear themselves called to by their names, and in a tone of voice to which they are accustomed. Supposing the call to proceed from their companions, they are led away from the direct road, and not knowing in what direction to advance, are left to perish. In the night-time, they are persuaded they hear the march of a large cavalcade of people on one side or the other of the times...the air (is filled) with the sounds of all kinds of musical instruments, and also drums and the clash of arms."
Bactrian camel

Activity: Make a caravan in a sand storm. Here's our caravan.

Photos courtesy of See our References for more information.
I am working on a year long series on the Polo family travels and thought I'd share it with you. Enjoy and please post any additional information you have for us or corrections.

Previously: Persia  Next Up: Mongols
Wishing you homeschool blessings,


Phyllis said...

Very interesting study! Thanks for the mention and for linking up.

Ticia said...

I'm pinning this for when we start country studies, which seems like it will be in a year or two at this rate.

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