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Columbus had read Marco Polo’s account of the East Indies and was eager to find the sources of the spices Polo had described. His approach was a new one, however. He believed that it was unnecessary to sail all the way around Africa, as Dias had done. Like most educated people of his day, Columbus knew that the world was round. He believed he could reach the East by sailing west. He also believed that the world was smaller than people imagined. Therefore he thought that the East Indies could not be very far west of the Canary Islands.