Marco Polo and the Mountain of Noah’s Ark in Armenia

Marco Polo, the famous Venetian merchant and explorer, traveled across Asia in the 13th century and visited many lands and cultures. One of the countries he described in his book, The Travels of Marco Polo, was Armenia, a land rich in history, religion, and natural beauty. In this article, we will explore what Marco Polo wrote about Armenia, especially about the mountain where he believed Noah’s Ark was located.

Marco Polo’s Journey to Armenia

Marco Polo left Venice with his father and uncle in 1271, and reached China in 1275, where he served as an envoy and diplomat for Kublai Khan, the Mongol emperor. He spent 17 years in China, and learned a lot about its culture, geography, politics, and economy. He also traveled to other parts of Asia, such as India, Persia, Tibet, and Southeast Asia. He returned to Venice in 1295, and later dictated his experiences to a fellow prisoner, Rustichello da Pisa, who wrote them down in a book.

On his way back from China, Marco Polo passed through Armenia, which was then divided into two parts: the Greater Armenia (most of modern Armenia) and the Lesser Armenia (most likely Cilicia). He wrote about both regions, but focused more on the Lesser Armenia, where he saw many towns, castles, and churches. He also noted the abundance of food, game, and silk in the country. He praised the king of the Lesser Armenia, who ruled with justice and wisdom, but criticized the people, who were drunkards, cowards, and mean-spirited. He attributed their behavior to the unhealthy climate of the country, which was very hot and humid.

Marco Polo’s Account of the Mountain of Noah’s Ark

One of the most interesting and curious things that Marco Polo wrote about Armenia was the mountain where he claimed Noah’s Ark was resting. He identified this mountain as the “Mountain of Noah’s Ark”, and said it was located in the heart of the Greater Armenia. He described it as a very high and steep mountain, covered with snow all year round, so that no one could climb it. He said that the snow never melted, but was constantly renewed by new falls. He also said that below the snow, the mountain was very fertile and green, and that many cattle were sent there to graze in the summer. He added that the melting snow caused a lot of mud on the mountain, which made it difficult to approach.

Marco Polo was not the first to mention the mountain of Noah’s Ark in Armenia. The biblical story of the Flood says that the Ark came to rest “on the mountains of Ararat” (Genesis 8:4), which was interpreted by some ancient and medieval sources as a mountain range in Armenia. The Book of Jubilees, a Jewish apocryphal text, named the mountain as “Lubar”. Josephus, a Jewish historian, said that the mountain was in Armenia, and that the locals showed the remains of the Ark to visitors. The Armenian tradition also identified the mountain as Masis, and claimed that the Armenians were the descendants of Noah.

However, Marco Polo’s account of the mountain of Noah’s Ark differs from other sources in some details. For example, he does not name the mountain, nor does he mention any relics or traces of the Ark. He also does not say how he learned about the mountain, or whether he saw it himself or heard about it from others. He also does not explain why he believed that the mountain was the same as the biblical Ararat, or how he reconciled his account with the Islamic tradition, which placed the Ark on Mount Judi, near the border of Turkey and Iraq.

Marco Polo’s Influence and Legacy

Marco Polo’s book, The Travels of Marco Polo, was one of the most influential and popular works of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. It inspired many travelers and explorers, such as Christopher Columbus, who wanted to follow his footsteps and reach the East. It also provided valuable information and insights into the culture, geography, and history of Asia, which was largely unknown to the Europeans at the time. It also sparked the curiosity and imagination of many readers, who were fascinated by the wonders and marvels that Marco Polo described.

Marco Polo’s account of the mountain of Noah’s Ark in Armenia was one of the many examples of his vivid and captivating descriptions. It also reflected his interest and respect for the religious traditions and beliefs of the people he encountered. It also showed his sense of adventure and curiosity, as he sought to discover and verify the legends and stories that he heard. His account also contributed to the long and ongoing search for the location and evidence of Noah’s Ark, which has attracted many scholars, explorers, and enthusiasts over the centuries.

Marco Polo was a remarkable man who left a lasting legacy in the history of exploration, literature, and culture. His book, The Travels of Marco Polo, is a treasure trove of knowledge, wisdom, and wonder, that still captivates and educates the readers today. His account of the mountain of Noah’s Ark in Armenia is one of the many gems that he shared with the world, and that invites us to explore and appreciate the diversity and beauty of our planet.

  1. Marco Polo: Facts, Biography & Travels | Live Science
  2. Marco Polo about Armenia – Art-A-Tsolum
  3. The Travels of Marco Polo
  4. Armenia/Turkey – Dickinson College
  5. Searches for Noah’s Ark – Wikipedia
  6. Mount Judi – Wikipedia
  7. Marco Polo: Facts, Biography & Travels | Live Science
  8. Searches for Noah’s Ark – Wikipedia
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