Although Polo's tales of exotic lands inspired Columbus and became the model for generations of explorers, scholars wondered why he did not mention tea, chopsticks, the Chinese writing system and the practice of binding women's feet.
Furthermore, there is no mention of the Great Wall, while Marco, his father and his uncle are not recorded in any Chinese document.
According to Vogel, skeptics have often overestimated the frequency of documentation and the intentions of Chinese historiographers.
"Even Giovanni de Marignolli (1290-1357), an important papal envoy at the court of the Yuan rulers, is not mentioned in any Chinese sources –- nor are his 32-man retinue, nor the name of the pope," he said.
As for the Great Wall, new research has established that it did not exist at the time.
"The original wall had long since disintegrated, while the present structure - a product of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) - was yet to be erected," said Vogel.
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Other historians have used these arguments to rehabilitate the Venetian traveler, but Vogel used new data, focusing on a largely neglected part of Polo's travelogue.