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orion Off-topic - but interesting...

Please forgive this post if it is off-topic.  However, it may be of
interest to historians on this list.  Especially with the 
*possible* connections of Italy-Middle East - and China.


World Maritime News - 26 Sept., 1997 (2/2) (fwd)

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Fri, 26 Sep 1997 20:38:02 -0500
From: Steve Schultz <sschultz@EXECPC.COM>
Reply-To: Marine History Information Exchange Group
To: MARHST-L@post.queensu.ca
Subject: World Maritime News - 26 Sept., 1997 (2/2)


Marco Polo beaten to China by Italian sailor?

     In November, Little, Brown & Co. will publish an English translation
of a manuscript said to have been written by an Italian Jewish sailor,
Jacob, who wrote that he reached Zaitun, China, by water in August 1271. If
true, the arrival of the four-masted ship would place Jacob in China four
years before Marco Polo arrived by land. According to the manuscript, Jacob
spent six months in Zaitun and evenutually fled after becoming involved in
local politcs. If authenticated, the writing may provide new information on
Asia and Chinese society in particular.

 Jacob, who identified himself as
the son of Salomone of Ancona, is said to have sailed from that Italian
city to the eastern Mediterranean, crossed overland to the Persian Gulf,
and sailed out the gulf and along India and Sri Lanka, across the Indian
Ocean and eventually up to China.

 On the return route, the voyage
reportedly was through the Red Sea and overland through Egypt. The
translator of the manuscript, David Selbourne, a 60-year-old British
citizen who taught political philosophy at the University of Oxford, has
not made the original text available to anyone else.Selbourne said he was
allowed to examine and translate the work on the condition that its current
owner and location not be revealed. 

Jacob reported that Zaitun had many
Africans and Europeans living in the city including Jews and Muslims. A
free port, Zaitun is thought to have been located at what is now Quanzhou
and had more than 200,000 residents. He writes of Zaitun as "the city of
light," the name chosen for the forthcoming book. However, he also was
critical of the actions and morals of the people with the word Zaitun the
basis for the English word "satan." Jacob became involved in debates as to
whether the city should organize to fight Mongols, who at that time were
invading from the north. During a debate, Jacob's patron was stabbed and
according to the manuscript, he fled the city 24 Feb., 1272.



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"When beholding the tranquil beauty and brilliancy of the ocean's skin, one
forgets the tiger heart that pants beneath it; and would not willingly
remember, that this velvet paw but conceals a remorseless fang" - Herman
Melville from "Moby-Dick; or, The White Whale," Chapter 114, Paragraph two