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Marco Polo. Portrait of Marco Polo (1254-1324), Italian explorer. Polo was born in the independent city-state of Venice. His father and uncle had made an overland journey to China during 1260-69. They went again in 1271 and took Marco with them; the trip went from Israel, through Iran to central Asia, and from there to the city of Shangdu in China. There they were received by the Mongol Emperor Kublai Khan in 1275. Marco Polo became a diplomat for Kublai Khan whilst his father and uncle acted as military advisors. They returned to Italy during 1292-5 and Marco Polo wrote an influential account of his travels whilst in prison in 1298.
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