Perhaps no land journey in human history is more famous than Marco Polos legendary 24-year trek across Asia. But was it all just a big lie? As described in his 1299 book, The Description of the World, the peripatetic Venetian merchant encountered such wonders as the singing sand dunes of Dunhuang, China, mountains of salt in present-day Afghanistan, and the glories of the Mongol court of Kublai Khan. Generations of Europeans were spellbound by Polos account, yet in recent years some scholars have questioned its authenticity.

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