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        Marco Polo, Ibn Battuta, and Zheng He | Early Connectors

        During the Middle Ages, very few people are documented as having traveled to unknown lands. Yet three remarkable explorers from different parts of the world did just that. Marco Polo of Venice is probably the most famous overland traveler of all time; stories of his journeys first introduced Europeans to Central Asia and China. Ibn Battuta of Tangier is known as the greatest Muslim explorer in history; he traveled over 75,000 miles to nearly every Muslim country in the world. Zheng He of China commanded an enormous fleet of ships and journeyed to 30 countries throughout Asia and Africa. Through several primary source activities and short videos, students will understand the significance of all three explorers and how they contributed to the spread of different cultures and ideas across the world. 

        Lesson Summary

        In this lesson, students will explore the adventures of these three world travelers. After viewing three short videos about their journeys, students will analyze photographs of a city that all three travelers visited, write a log entry describing a sighting of Zheng He’s fleet of ships, and then read excerpts from Marco Polo’s and Ibn Battuta’s accounts of their journeys. The lesson will conclude with students writing a short play in which the three travelers meet and share stories of their adventures.

        Time Allotment

        • Introduction – 5 minutes
        • Videos and Class Discussion – 25 minutes
        • Visual Primary Source Activity – 10 minutes
        • Written Primary Source Activity – 20 minutes
        • Geography Activity – 30 minutes
        • Culminating Activity – 1 to 3 hours, depending on class size




        • annotated – marked up with critical or explanatory notes
        • cartographer – a person who creates maps
        • expedition – a journey or voyage made for a specific purpose
        • the Hajj – an Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca; a religious duty that must be carried out at least once a lifetime by all adult Muslims who are capable of making the journey
        • Mecca – a city in Saudi Arabia that Muslims consider to be a holy city; the birthplace of the prophet Muhammad
        • Muslim – a follower of the religion of Islam
        • pilgrimage – a religious journey


        Look through and review links for additional material before sharing with the class. 

        Marco Polo and the Silk Road – In the 13th century, Marco Polo traveled for three and a half years from Venice to reach China. He did so by using the Silk Road. The Silk Road, or Silk Route, was an ancient network of trade routes that linked China to the Mediterranean Sea, carrying goods, information, ideas, and even illnesses between China and the Roman Empire. 

        For more on Marco Polo and the Silk Road:

        Ibn Battuta and the Muslim Empire – After the death of the prophet Muhammad, in 632 A.D., caliphs, or Muslim political and religious rulers, continued Muhammad’s teachings of Islam, the religion he had founded. Over time, the caliphs built a huge trading system, which became the Muslim Empire. Some Muslims, such as Ibn Battuta, used these trade routes to spread their ideas and culture all over the world. 

        For more on Ibn Battuta and the Muslim Empire:

        Zheng He and the Chinese Armada – By the beginning of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), China had the greatest naval technology in the world. The first Ming emperor chose one of his most trusted generals, Zheng He, to lead naval expeditions to demonstrate the power of the empire. Special “treasure ships” were built that were over 400 feet long and 160 feet wide and could carry 2,500 tons of cargo each. Accompanying those ships were hundreds of smaller ships to carry supplies and to bring gifts that would impress foreign leaders.

        For more on Zheng He and the Chinese Armada:

        Background on Marco Polo, Ibn Battuta, and Zheng He | Explorers

        Marco Polo

        During a time when most Europeans never even left their place of birth, Marco Polo had the luck of being born into a family of wealthy Venetian merchants and traders. He grew up hearing stories of the Near East from his father and uncle, and in 1271 at the age of 17, he traveled with them along the Silk Road. Upon finally reaching China after a three-and-a-half year journey, the Polos entered the court of the Mongol ruler Kublai Khan, whose grandfather Genghis Khan had conquered northeast Asia. There, Marco Polo was offered in service to the emperor, where he took on various diplomatic and administrative roles. Marco Polo was fascinated with Kublai Khan and his palaces as well as the remarkable innovations he saw that did not yet exist in Europe, including the use of paper for money and the burning of coal for heat.

        After 24 years at the court of Kublai Khan, the Polos finally returned home in 1295, as the Mongol Empire was beginning its decline. Soon after, Marco Polo was captured in battle and sent to prison. While there, he met the writer Rustichello of Pisa, and described his experiences in China, which Rustichello transcribed into a manuscript that was first entitled Description of the World, but is now known as The Travels of Marco Polo. This book had an enormous lasting impact. Though Marco Polo was not the first European to reach China, he was the first to record a detailed description. This book had a great influence on future European cartographers and, perhaps even more importantly, on future explorers. Two centuries after Marco Polo’s death, Christopher Columbus set off across the Atlantic Ocean looking for a route to China. With him, he carried an annotated copy of The Travels of Marco Polo.

        Ibn Battuta

        Another young explorer, Ibn Battuta of Tangier, Morocco, set out on his own in 1325, at the age of 21. His plan was to undertake the Hajj, or pilgrimage, to Mecca, which he reached in 1326. Ibn Battuta spent nearly 30 years exploring, visiting almost every Muslim country and various other non-Muslim lands. His travels took him to North and West Africa, the Middle East, China, and south and central Asia. Throughout his long overland journey, he studied with Muslim scholars and became a trained qadi, or judge. 

        In 1354, Ibn Battuta returned to Morocco, where the local sultan commissioned a scholar to record Battuta’s experiences. The full title of his book translates to A Gift to Those Who Contemplate the Wonders of Cities and the Marvels of Traveling, though it is usually referred to as simply The Travels. His work was relatively unknown to the non-Muslim world until the 19th century, when a German explorer in the Middle East found a version of his book and published extracts in German. Ibn Battuta has been called “the traveler of Islam” and for good reason: it is estimated that he traveled nearly 75,000 miles and met at least 60 rulers and an even more governors and other dignitaries. His book mentions more than 2,000 people he knew or whose tombs he visited. Although Ibn Battuta did not discover unknown lands, his book remains a significant historical record of the social, cultural, and political history of the Muslim world and has even helped scholars determine when Islam spread in West Africa.

        Zheng He

        By the time Zheng He, a Chinese Muslim, was born in 1371, the Mongol dynasty known to Marco Polo and Ibn Battuta had fallen, and the Ming Dynasty was in power. In 1381, a Ming army conquered Zheng He’s province. He was captured and forced to serve in the emperor’s court. Zheng He eventually distinguished himself as a soldier and trusted advisor. In 1403, the new emperor ordered the construction of a fleet of trading ships and warships to travel across the South China Sea and Indian Ocean. The emperor chose Zheng He as commander-in-chief of what was to become the largest naval expedition in history until the first World War. Zheng He first set sail in 1405, commanding over 300 ships that contained almost 28,000 men. Over the next 28 years, Zheng He led seven voyages that traveled to 37 countries through Southeast Asia, Africa, and Arabia; establishing Chinese trading relationships. After Zheng He’s final voyage ended in 1433, the new Chinese emperor ordered an end to these expensive expeditions, claiming that resources were needed for land defenses instead. For hundreds of years afterward, officials minimized the importance of Zheng He and his expeditions, and he was often left out of official publications. Eventually, by the 20th century, the Chinese recognized the significance of Zheng He’s journeys and the role they played in developing relations between China and Islamic countries.

        Introductory Activity

        (5 minutes)

        • Ask students:
          1. What do you imagine it would be like to leave home and not return for 15 or 20 years? [For context, you might say to your students: If you have older siblings or family members who are in the military, they may have been stationed abroad. They might have traveled to a foreign country in South America, Europe, Africa, or Asia, and lived there for extended periods of time.]
          2. Describe your idea of a fantastic adventure.
        • Introduce Ibn Battuta, Zheng He, and Marco Polo.

          These three men never met, lived in different centuries, and were from different parts of the world. But from the end of the 13th century to the early part of the 15th century, these three world travelers walked, sailed, and rode through the heart of the Muslim world and beyond, sharing their cultures and bringing home ideas, inventions, and goods from the places they visited.

        Learning Activities

        Videos and Class Discussion (25 minutes)

        Distribute the World Explorers Video Graphic Organizer for students to fill out while viewing the videos. The organizer will be used later for the Culminating Activity.

        Play the video, Marco Polo | PBS World Explorers

        Discussion questions after viewing:

        1. Marco Polo quickly became a trusted member of the court of Kublai Kahn. Why did the Great Khan trust Marco Polo?

        Play the video, Ibn Battuta | PBS World Explorers

        1. Why was Ibn Battuta asked by many kings and princes to serve as their ambassador? What skills and experiences did he bring to such a job?
        2. A map in the video on Ibn Battuta shows the Islamic world around 1300. A map in the video on Marco Polo shows the territory reachable by the Silk Road trading route during the late 1200’s. Discuss why the maps share overlapping territory. If desired, project the Silk Road and Islamic world maps for students to compare.

        Play the video, Zheng He | PBS World Explorers

        1. When Zheng He went on his seven voyages, he was the admiral of an enormous fleet. He also had a hand in all of the diplomatic and military decisions that were made along the way. Imagine you are either a Chinese diplomat or a colonel meeting with Zheng He while on one of the voyages. Describe your commander in a letter you’ve written to your family.
        2. Our three travelers each visited many countries and traveled thousands of miles. When they each returned home, what did they bring with them? What and how did they share with people of their own country and culture?
        3. The three men featured in these videos traveled far from their homelands. They visited new continents, met world leaders, and each, in their own way, made the peoples of the world more connected. Describe how Zheng He, Ibn, Battuta, and Marco Polo created connections among distant peoples and stimulated the travels of future explorers.

        Answer Key

        1. Polo was smart and enthusiastic, and he was amazed by some of the Mongol’s technologies. He quickly picked up several languages and proved himself useful to serve the emperor and his empire.
        2. Ibn Battuta was a bright, well-travelled man who possessed the skills and determination to travel country to country on his own. He had studied under great religious thinkers. Previously, he served as a traveling judge, helping to settle dispute and mediate situations, and he was a dedicated Muslim. All of these skills made him a great diplomat to kings and princes, as he could travel and effectively help communicate their greetings and policies.
        3. Parts of the Silk Road, an ancient trading route, ran through Islamic territory. These Muslim countries could trade and exchange diplomatic relations.
        4. Sample letter:
          1. Today, I met an important Chinese diplomat… his fleet is so enormous! More ships than I can count—and they each have so many people on board. He comes directly from our emperor, however,
        5. Marco Polo: He dictated his experiences to Rustichello, who then transcribes them into the manuscript, The Travels of Marco Polo.
          Ibn Battuta
          : He dictated the stories of his travels to scholar and poet, Ibn Juzayy. Today, these stories are known as The Travels of Ibn Battuta.
          Zheng He: He brought back exotic creatures to China that many had never seen, such as giraffes and camels.
        6. Marco Polo: He served on Kublai Khan’s court and brought back knowledge of technologies and practices back west. His manuscript also aided future cartographers and explorers.
          Ibn Battuta: He served as an ambassador for many Muslim kings and princes, and he travelled all across China, Southeast Asia, India, the Arabian Peninsula, North and West Africa. He delivered greetings, policies, and Islamic values to distant lands.
          Zheng He: His voyages brought him around the Arabian Peninsula and around the horn of Africa, visiting more than 30 countries. His travels and diplomacy work helped to establish Chinese trade, establish Chinese political relations, and spread the religion of Islam across Asia and Northern Africa.

        Examining Primary Sources

        Visual Primary Source Activity (10 minutes)

        Download the Visual Primary Source Activity PDF

        Project or make copies of the following images.


        The City of Hormuz (written here as Ormus)

        [Source: Braun and Hogenberg, Civitates Orbis Terrarum, 1572; Accessed from]

        Bandar Abbas, Iran in 2010


        The ancient city of Hormuz was a port city strategically situated where the Persian Gulf meets the Arabian Sea, just as the modern city of Bandar Abbas does today. The original city of Hormuz was a famed trading port where land and sea routes from Africa, Europe, and Asia converged. The ancient city is no more, but the nearby modern city of Bandar Abbas serves in its stead. Marco Polo, Ibn Battuta, and Zheng He all visited Hormuz.

        Discussion Questions:

        1. Compare the picture of Hormuz from 1572 with the picture of Bandar Abbas from 2010. Identify several similarities and several differences between the two images.
        2. In the ancient city of Hormuz, there was an active trade in spices, salt, gems, jewels, of silk and cotton cloth, horses and other animals, as well as pottery and many other housewares. Today in the modern city of Bandar Abbas, huge numbers of containers are moved on and off ships carrying goods from all over the world. These goods include electronics, housewares, clothing, and seafood. In addition, ships from Bandar Abbas export raw ores and minerals used in manufacturing. Crude oil is also exported.

          Compare and contrast the types of goods that moved through the city of Hormuz and are traded in Bandar Abbas today.

        Zheng He’s Ships

        [Source: Chinese woodblock print dated to the early 17th century; print was used in the PBS NOVA program, Sultan’s Lost Treasure; Accessed from]

        The Yongle Emperor, who ordered the construction of Zheng He’s impressive navy, wished to resume trade with other countries and reestablish China’s primacy around the Indian Ocean. He ordered that an enormous fleet of ships be built, including ships that were larger than any that had been built before.

        1. Imagine that you are the harbormaster in Hormuz in 1414, when Zheng He’s fleet of 63 ships arrives in your port. The fleet includes ships over 300 feet long and the “treasure ships” at more than 400 feet in length. (For contrast, the Santa Maria, which Christopher Columbus sailed in 1492, was 62 feet long.) Write the day’s log entry about this most unusual event. 

        Answer Key

        1. The towns are still right along the coastline, as both pictures feature the waterway and the edge of the coast. The 1572 picture includes a sailing ship in the foreground, and it also has features far more green space and grass on the land. Behind Hormuz’s buildings you can see hills of trees. Both pictures, however, show the mountains in the far background. The picture from 2010 features much more development; there are buildings upon buildings and no grassy areas in sight. Instead of people standing along the coastline as the 1572 Hormuz painting shows, the 2010 Bandar Abbas picture has cars driving along the coast. 
        2. Housewares, clothing, and food were traded in both Hormuz and Bandar Abbas. But aside from that, very different goods are now traded out of the port. Back in Hormuz, things like spices, salt, gems, jewels, and animals. However, today, goods that are traded through Bandar Abbas include electronics, raw ores, minerals, and crude oil. 
        3. Students should write an entry that mentions Zheng He and the fleet. Possible mentions include the number of ships or describing them as many, large, possibly there to trade, etc.

          Sample entry:

          Another day on the harbor. This morning began as usual… as the sun rose we ate our breakfast before we went down to the dock to help the first boats load up. All of a sudden our lookout shouted out that there were incoming ships. But this wasn’t his normal warming….he screamed that there were more giant ships than he could count. We all started to gather as they sailed our way. I’ve never seen anything like it. Every ship in the harbor stopped to see the sight. I started to get nervous… who could this possibly be and what could they want? I alerted the messenger to run and tell the king’s court immediately. From what we could see, there were more than 50 ships sailing our way. And these weren’t just any ships---these were massive!! More than three times the length then most of the ships in our harbor. Most of the ships anchored up a little ways away from the coast, and the largest ship of all sent its men our way. Thankfully they came peacefully, looking to make trade relations with our country. They waited until our king’s men arrived to speak with them. 
        Written Primary Source Activity (20 minutes)

        Ibn Battuta and Marco Polo are both well known because tales of their travels were written down and published as books that exist to this day. Their travels were read, studied, and admired by many people. In fact, Christopher Columbus brought a copy of Marco Polo’s book on his voyages.

        Click here to download the Writings of Ibn Battuta and Marco Polo Handout PDF.

        Distribute the handout and discuss the first set of questions as a class. The writing activity can be done in class or as a take-home assignment.

        Answer Key

        The following are sample answers, as some of the questions relate to personal experiences or creative thinking.

        First Set:

        1. Both religious and governmental institutions were clearly crucial systems for those that are less fortunate. The governments had methods in place to provide food for when food was scarce in the region. The religious faction did the same and more. They also gave clothing and money for travel, helping pilgrims reach their destination of Mecca. The endowments also helped to free prisoners and improve the local infrastructure. Without these institutions in place, many people would have suffered.
        2. Similar systems exist today. Religious institutions still provide a lot for the less fortunate. Local churches run homeless shelters and food banks for those that can’t afford their own. It varies depending on where you live, but many governments have systems in place such as food stamps, low-income housing, and shelters that help to provide the basic necessities for the less fortunate. These services play a vital role in society, for without them, a portion of our population would be left starving in the streets.

        Second Set

        1. Students can answer yes or no, but if yes include a description and if no include an example of something they’d like to try. Sample answer:Yes, one time I tried a star fruit. I believe it comes from a tropical country. It was pretty delicious! It sort of tasted like a mixture between grapes and pears, but when cut open it looks like a star!
        2. To-do:
          1. Round up a ship and crew
          2. Tell local businesses and residents about “magical” burning black stones
          3. Get burlap bags to collect black stones
          4. Makes cases to store the stones in on return trip
          5. Collect jewels and spices we can trade for the black stones
          6. Travel to Cathay
          7. Barter with local dealer
          8. Collect at least 10 cases worth of black stones
          9. Return to Venice with brand new fuel source
          10. Hold a public market to showcase the black stones’ ability and sell the magical fuel
        Geography Activity (30 minutes)

        Materials Needed


        This activity can be done in a school computer lab, or as a take-home assignment. 

        1. Distribute the Early Connectors’ Journey map handout, which includes grid identifiers and numeric identifiers of the geographic locations discussed in the Google Earth Story.
        2. In class or independently, have students follow the journeys of Marco Polo, Ibn Battuta, and Zheng He. Have students make notes on the map; encourage them to include aspects of the journey that they find interesting as well as any questions that arise. 
        3. When reconvened in the classroom, begin a class discussion. Ask students which explorer they would most like to have accompanied. What place or places along that explorer’s path do they find the most interesting and why? 

        Answer Key

        1. China
          1. Marco Polo: Kashgar, Dunhuang, Shangdu
            Ibn Battuta: Quanzhou
            Zheng He: Beijing, Nanjing
          2. Marco Polo: Kashgar: 1272; Dunhuang: 1273; Shangdu: 1275
            Ibn Battuta: Quanzhou: 1345
            Zheng He: Beijing: late 1300s; Nanjing: 1405
          3. Marco Polo:
            1. Kashgar: He stopped at this prominent trading post to procure wares from the market.
            2. Dunhuang: He stopped at this oasis and lived among Buddhists in between his travels across two deserts (the Taklamakan and Gobi).
            3. Shangdu: He was meeting the Chinese emperor at his summer palace

            Ibn Battuta:
            1. Quanzhou: He was Sultan Muhammad Tughluq’s ambassador to China, and he arrived in Zaitun (present-day Quanzhou) to meet with prominent local Muslims.

            Zheng He:
            1. Beijing: He was the Emperor’s son’s servant. He helped organize events while he served the prince and became one of his advisers.
            2. Nanjing: He assembled his huge fleet of ships in this port town.
          4. Answers will vary depending on the city chosen:
            1. Kashgar: Kashgar is a larger city surrounded by smaller towns in the valley of mountains. The Tuman River runs through it, and there is a large park near the center of town.
            2. Dunhuang: Dunhuang is an isolated town on the edge of the barren Gobi desert. It looks to be the central, most developed part of this isolated area, with little towns sprawling outside of it. The Danghe River seems to run right down the middle of Dunhuang.
            3. Shangdu: There’s almost nothing there today. It looks very barren, with just fields/open land and a couple of roads running through the area.
            4. Beijing: Beijing is China’s huge capital, so it’s a massive urban center. There’s a huge circle of development that sprawls outwards in all directions. The city itself has several lakes/reservoirs in town, and numerous residential districts surround the city.
            5. Nanjing: Nanjing is a large urban center situated right on the Yangtze River. Despite being highly developed with many residential districts sprawling outwards, there are two large parks/scenic areas in town.
            6. Quanzhou: Quanzhou is a coastal port town that has two rivers (the Jinjiang and the Luoyang) cutting through it, emptying into the Quanzhou Bay. The town is located along the Taiwan Strait, where the South China Sea and the East China Sea meet in the Taiwan Strait. The city has extensive development but still a fair amount of trees and green space filtered throughout.
        2. Answers for different pairings:
          • Ibn Battuta & Marco Polo
            1. Ibn Battuta left home (Tangiers, Morocco) by himself to make a religious pilgrimage to Mecca, while Marco Polo left home with his father and uncle to see the Mongol emperor, Kublai Khan.
            2. Both explorers travelled by horseback.
            3. Religion played a role in both expeditions, but more so for Ibn Battuta. Battuta left home to make a pilgrimage to Mecca, a essential pillar of Islam. The rest of his travels were all related to studying with Muslim scholars and being ambassadors of Muslim kings and princes. Marco Polo’s expeditions were less related to religion, but one of the reasons for his initial voyage was indeed to share Christian scriptures with the Mongol Emperor Kublai Khan.
          • Marco Polo & Zheng He
            1. Marco Polo left home to join his father and uncle on their expedition to explore foreign lands and see the Mongol emperor, Kublai Khan. In the following dynasty, Yongle Emperor Zhu Di chose servant Zheng He, for an expedition to help establish trade routes, collect taxes from distant territories, and demonstrate the Chinese empire’s power. (Later on in his travels, Polo also ended up fulfilling some of Emperor’s Khan’s missions.)
            2. For the most part, Marco Polo travelled by horseback, while Zheng He travelled by the sea in his enormous fleet of ships. Polo did return home by ship, however.
            3. While one of the reasons Marco Polo travelled east was to bring Christian scriptures to Kublai Khan, religion was not a major component of his travels. In a similar regard, religion didn’t play a huge role in Zheng He’s travels, but his expeditions throughout Southeast Asia did contribute to the spread of Islam.
          • Ibn Battuta & Zheng He
            1. Ibn Battuta left home on his own accord to make the religious pilgrimage to Mecca. However, Zheng He was chosen by his Emperor to set out on an expedition and extend the empire’s power through trade routes and taxation.
            2. Ibn Battuta traveled on horseback over land, while Zheng He voyaged over seas in his huge fleet of ships.
            3. Religion played an enormous role in Ibn Battuta’s travels; it was the reason he left home in the first place, and most of his travels were to and from Muslim countries. Religion wasn’t a sole reason for Zheng He’s travels, but his expeditions did contribute to the spread of Islam throughout Southeast Asia.
        3. Answers will vary

        Culminating Activity

        (1 to 3 hours)

        This can be done as an in-class follow-up to the lesson, as a homework assignment or as a multi-day in-class project. 

        (To be completed using the World Explorers Video Graphic Organizer, which students completed while watching the videos earlier.)

        A few things connect Ibn Battuta, Marco Polo, and Zheng He, even though their lives did not overlap. They each served kings and emperors. They each traveled enormous distances to places most people from their homelands had never seen. Through their travels, responsibilities, and the tales that they told, each expanded the interconnectedness of the Afro-Eurasian (Northern Africa, Europe, the Arabian Peninsula, and Asia) part of the world both for their contemporaries and for future generations.

        Have your students gather in groups of three. Based on the written information and the videos in this lesson, along with their imaginations, have your students write a brief play (performance time of approximately 3 to 4 minutes) based on one of the scenes below. Next, have each group perform their play for the class. The entire activity will take about one to three hours, depending on class size.

        Scene 1.  Battuta, Polo, and He meet for the first time in a large outdoor market in a foreign land. Have them share stories of their adventures, places they visited, narrow escapes, royalty they met, food they ate, and what they learned about the vast world and countries that they visited.

        Scene 2.  Battuta, Polo, and He are traveling together on the same ship or overland caravan. Have them share stories of their adventures, places they visited, narrow escapes, royalty they met, food they ate, and what they learned about the vast world and countries that they visited.

        Answer Key

        These answers are sample responses for the Video Graphic Organizer.

        Marco Polo

        Routes taken, places visited, reasons for travel

        Adventures and mishaps


        • all throughout eastern Asia, sometimes along the Silk Road (which connected China, Indian subcontinent, Persia, Europe, the horn of Africa, and Arabia)


        • Initially travelled to explore Mongol empire and provide emperor Kublai Khan with Christian scriptures
        • Ended up being sent on missions by emperor throughout


        • Traveled to Shangdu, Kublai Khan’s summer palace
        • Visited Mongol camps in central Asia along the way
        • Present-day China, Burma, and India
        • Traveled throughout Asia for 24 years


        • Difficult terrain across Mongol/Asian land
        • Lived with a variety of people from different cultural backgrounds
        • Took 3.5 years of travel to get to Khan’s palace in Shangdu
        • Emperor liked Polo and sent him on missions throughout Asia; first European to see most of these places
        • Difficult journey back home by sea
        • Once he returned home, there was a war in rival cities. Polo was captured and jailed, which is where he met the man who would write down all of Polo’s adventures.

        Ibn Battuta

        Routes taken, places visited, reasons for travel

        Adventures and mishaps


        • Several pilgrimages to Mecca, pathways all across the Asian and European continent


        • Alexandria, Cairo, Damascus, Mecca, horn of Africa, North and West Africa, Persia, Pakistan, India, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Southeast Asia, China


        • To make the religious pilgrimage to city of Mecca
        • To learn more about the religion of Islam
        • Traveling judge who settled local disputes
        • Ambassador of princes and kings, helping to convey greetings and messages about policies throughout the land
        • Traveling all alone at just 22 years old
        • Met a mystic in Alexandria that predicted his great travels
        • Signed up to be a traveling judge in a caravan that settled local disputes
        • Performed pilgrimage to Mecca four times during his 30 year journey
        • Attacked by thieves
        • Nearly drowned in sinking ship
        • Almost put to death by angry ruler
        • Traveled 75,000 miles
        • - Only known Medieval traveler to have visited the lands of every Muslim ruler of his time

        Zheng He

        Routes taken, places visited, reasons for travel

        Adventures and mishaps


        • Via waterways and oceans, along the coasts of Asian and African continent


        • Southeast Asia, ports in China, India, Indonesia, Arabian peninsula, horn of Africa, Yemen, Somalia, Kenya, Iran, Saudi Arabia


        • To help emperor display his power
        • To establish trade routes
        • To collect taxes from distant territories
        • To establish diplomatic relations
        • To demonstrate Chinese empire’s power to the rest of the world
        • Sailed with 317 ships, 62 of which were 400 foot long treasure ships
        • Captured a notorious pirate criminal
        • Sailed on 7 voyages in his lifetime
        • Brought back animals like giraffes and camels to China
        • Traveled more than 31,000 miles and visited over 30 countries
        • Imperial Decree wiped out Zheng He’s navy, even the history of it

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