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Persian couriers

Herodotus, in about 440 BC, describes the Persian postal system which has been perfected by Darius about half a century earlier:

'There is nothing in the world which travels faster than the Persian couriers. The whole idea is a Persian invention, and works like this: riders are stationed along the road, equal in number to the number of days the journey takes - a man and a horse for each day. Nothing stops these couriers from covering their allotted stage in the quickest possible time - neither snow, rain, heat, nor darkness. The first, at the end of his stage, passes the dispatch to the second, the second to the third, and so on along the line, as in the Greek torch-race which is held in honour of Hephaestus.'

Herodotus The Histories, translated Aubrey de Sélincourt, Penguin 1954, 1972, page 556

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