Courier Services of the Past

21 of September 2015 | By John Granville | Posted in News and Tips

From homing pigeons to jets that break the sound barrier, the couriers that deliver our packages have changed a lot over the centuries. Ox-drawn carts, pigeons and dogs - all have been employed at various times to deliver our mail. Delivery is very complicated in a world where thousands of people send and receive packages every second. National Pallets makes shipping your items easy with our extensive haulage network and years of first-hand expertise. This is a look at how our now complex delivery techniques were once handled.

Homing Pigeons

In the Middle Ages messages were tied to the leg of a pigeon. Pigeon post worked well because pigeons can navigate long distances thanks to a fine-tuned inner map of the Earth’s magnetic fields. If the package didn’t get delivered you could always just eat the bird, it was the Middle Ages!

caliph Mu'awiyya

Caliphates were political leaders and religious successors to the prophet Muhammad. The caliph Mu´awiyya created a postal service within the Islamic world called ‘barid’ named after the towers built to protect couriers along postal routes.

Genghis Khan  

Genghis Khan created a postal service for his empire called Örtöö. A thorough postal network meant that messages were delivered across the huge lands Khan had conquered. By the time of his grandson Kublai Khan’s rule, the empire had extended to China and postal employees included 50,000 horses, 6,700 mules, 1,400 oxen, 1,150 sheep, 200 dogs, and 6,000 boats to carry them all!

Religious orders

An order by the name of the Cistercians created a postal service that connected 6000 churches, abbeys, and monasteries. The Knights Templar had a delivery service that reached even further.

The mummy of all courier services

As far as we know, the Pharos were the first to require a courier service to deliver their decrees across the empire. The oldest letter found dates back to 225 BC.

 

All kinds of methods have been employed to deliver mail from submarines, to dogsleds, to capsule pipelines which shoot tube-shaped capsules containing letters through a series of tubes. Our modern delivery systems will undoubtedly see many more changes as societies and technologies continue to evolve.  

John Granville

By John Granville

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