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Marco Polo and Ibn Battuta Intended Discoveries in the 17th Century

Marco Polo and Ibn Battuta are the most known people in early history due to their unique and different approaches to exploring and adventure. Their legacy lingers even in the present as there has been no one to compare their actions and discoveries. They took so many years and still emerged strong. They did writings that depicted their discoveries about places, people, and different cultures they learned. Again their writings would act as a history that can be carried on for so many years. This includes the opening of trade channels, paper money, gunpowders and porcelain, and coal brning. They also led to the spread of Christianity and Islam by Marco Polo and Ibn Battuta, respectively.

Marco Polo

Marco Polo was born in 1254 in a wealthy Venetian merchant family, who were known for the jewels they traded.[1] Due to their jewel trade, Polo’s family was the movers and shakers of the government and commerce in medieval Venice. In the 13th Century, from 1271-1295, Marco Polo began his journey to China with his brother and uncle. The travel lasted for twenty-four years, and he covered around 15,000 miles. His expedition was devoted to serving the Emperor, which allowed him to travel to distant places such as Asia, India, and China. These are the many places that European had not gone. Therefore, he wanted to see the Mongol emperor Kublai Khan. Marco Polo’s travel was based on Christianity even though all the cultures and religions he met were foreign.

As we all know, traveling, adventure and exploring bring along various discoveries that impact how people live and do things. Marco Polo discovered paper currency, gun powder and porcelain, efficient communication system, and coal-burning during his travel.[2] History has it that gunpowder originated from China, as Joseph Needham invented it. [3] If the descendants of Marco Polo were to travel in the 17th Century, their journey and discoveries would be different. First, things globally had evolved as from th 13th Century when Marco Polo traveled. For instance, by then, the means of transport were horses which made them take so long before their destination. In the 17t century, there were steam-powered vehicles that would have carried people and cargo. Again, the discoveries would be different. Opposed to the gunpowder discovered then, it has advanced to more useful guns used in warfare. China, being the country of origin with the idea, dominated the technology sector. The descendants would discover the saltpeter that was used as the main ingredient of the gunpowder.

The travel and discoveries of the Marco Polo descendants would be different since paper money, which he discovered would be there already. However, they would have found that most states were using paper money for merchants and trade. As Marco Polo met with different cultures that were foreign to him, his descendants would not face the same challenge. In the 17th Century, most cultures had traveled to many places globally, and people had learned different cultures and beliefs. Again, Christianity in the 17th Century had spread to many countries compared to the 13th Century. That would not be a wonder to see people spread it more to different parts. This also applied to the cultures. He also opened trade routes to China and East India. His travel sparked the desire to learn new cultures from the East. For instance, when he returned home, he was in the Eastern attires meaning that he had already adopted their culture. However, he also left some of the practices from his culture, and people enjoyed it. The situation indicated that learning different cultures can help improve relationships and trade among nations. In this case, if his descendants would travel and explore in the 17th Century, they would have significant time as they would already have different people learning their culture. Trade among them would be accelerated at a higher rate, and there would be minimal barriers to their connections with other nations.

Ibn Battuta

Ibn Battuta was born in 1304 in Tangier, Morocco. He was a highly known medieval Muslim who traveled ad wrote one of the famous global travel logs, Rihlah. He maneuvered in different countries across Africa and Asia. His writings depicted the place, people, and cultures he met during his travel across the Islamic world. The main aim of the journeys was the pilgrimage and passion for spreading the word of Islam to the already and developed countries and completing his Hajj, which was the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca, the holy city.[4] He wished to fulfill the fifth pillar of Isla. He was also interested in learning Islamic law. His travel made him famous, and people realized the Islam religion. Ibn Battuta covered 120,000km that took him around 30 years. His journey had a significant impact on the Islam people across the globe as it influenced the movement to Dar al Islam and the preservation of Islam. Through his writings, history can be depicted, and people can now understand most of the things that happened in the past, and more so in the 13th Century.

If the descendants of Ibn Battuta had to travel in the 17th Century, things would be different. First, he traveled on a donkey since it was the most convenient form of transport in the 13th Century. However, in the 17th Century, things would be different as steam cars transported people and cargo. His descendants would have used the vehicles, resulting in less time to move around the Islam countries. In this case, there would be a modified, fast and efficient mode of transport.

Another difference would be that the descendants would have some people to help during their travel. For instance, when Ibn Battuta was traveling, he fell ill, and he had to tie o the saddle to prevent him from falling. This was because most of the parts he traveled were deserts with not many people who helped him. Again, the mode of treatment that he could have used was a bit old-fashioned and took him a long period to get well. However, in the 17th Century, things would be different since most areas had started to develop and a high population lived in the deserts. These people would have helped him, and it would have taken them less time to get well. A modified and wide range of medicines would also help them get well soon and proceed with the journey.

As several decades had already passed since the travel of Ibn Battuta, his descendants would not have much to spread to the developed and developing countries regarding Islam as most of them were aware of it and had already started their classes. However, they could have distributed the Qurans for the individuals learning and joining the Islamic religion to do it with ease. Ibn Battuta traveled alone to spread Islamic. But his descendants would have an entire lineage for backup since most people were aware of the religion, and spreading it could be easy.[5] The Ibn Batuta travel impacted trade in the 13th Century. As Islam grew and spread its civilization, many merchants discovered a safe context of trade. The case would be more advanced in the 17th Century as various factors would enhance trade. First, as many people had believed and got into the Islam religion, trade would take a short time to flourish, and people would have more trust in the merchants. Again, the trading items would have advanced, and increased meaning people will benefit more from trade.

Both Marco Polo and Ibn Battuta were well-known travelers who took their time with a passion for learning and spreading their religions in different nations. Their expeditions enabled them to discover places, people, and cultures, which later led them to write history. Trade routes were established and enhanced through their travel, and many merchants had a channel to move their trade items. Despite the challenging situations, especially in the desert, their passion made them keep going and accomplish their goals. The situations would be different if their descendants would carry on the travel. As in the 17th Century, many things had changed and evolved. Most of the places the pilgrims went, their religion was there, and the majority had joined them. The mode of transport had already changed, and steam cars were developed. In his case, traveling would have become easy and efficient. The same case applies to trade. Since many routes were established, there would be no hard time exploring and letting in merchants. As Ibn Battuta reached Mecca, his descendants would be there to know what their forefathers were up to, and their notion of getting there would be different since they have already read it from what was written. Again, they could be interested in giving Islam classes and distributing Quran to the newly recruited Muslims who did not have access to them. On the other hand, Marco Polo descendants would also make different discoveries, and their Christian foundations would be more advanced.


Evan Andrews. Why Moroccan Scholar Ibn Battuta May Be the Greatest Explorer of all Time. 2017, explorer-of-all-time

Jessie Szalay. Marco Polo: Facts, Biography & Travels. 2017,

Lorge, Peter. “Development and Spread of Firearms in Medieval and Early Modern Eurasia.” History Compass 9, no. 10 (2011): 818-826.

Warscheid, Ismail. “The Islamic Literature of the precolonial Sahara: Sources and .” History Compass 16, no. 5 (2018): e12449.

[1] Jessie Szaly. Marco Polo: Facts, Biography & Travels. 2017,

[2] ibid

[3] Lorge, Peter. “Development and Spread of Firearms in Medieval and Early Modern Eurasia.” History Compass 9, no. 10 (2011): 818-826.

[4] Evan Andrews. Why Moroccan Scholar Ibn Battuta May Be the Greatest Explorer of all Time. 2017,

[5] Warscheid, Ismail. “The Islamic Literature of the precolonial Sahara: Sources and approaches.” History Compass 16, no. 5 (2018): e12449.


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