Libmonster ID: UA-12170
Author(s) of the publication: Lyudmila AVILOVA

by Lyudmila AVILOVA, Dr. Sc. (Hist.), Senior Researcher of the Bronze Age Department, RAS Institute of Archeology

The communication routes exist as long as the mankind exists. The earliest traffic arteries were represented by rivers exploited by man in the Mesolithic. Later on, in the New Stone Age (8th-5th millennia B.C.), land routes were developed due to which exchange of valuable raw materials (firestone, obsidian, lazurite, malachite, shells, ivory) took place between tribes sometimes at a distance of hundreds of kilometers. We mean here footpaths attached to the natural terrain--river valleys, mountain passages.

ROADS OF THE ANCIENT ASIA AND EGYPT

The ancient paths are traced by archeological findings in the settlements located along them. For example, an enormous network of communication routes has been reconstructed, which in the 4th millennium B.C. connected the Sumer centers of Northern Mesopotamia with the neighboring territories of Northern Syria, Eastern Anatolia and Western Iran. Contacts were conducted along the rivers Euphrates and Tigris in the direction of north-south and also by land caravan tracks in the direction of west-east. Large urban settlements were situated in strategic points. For instance, the city of Mozan had control over the Mardin mountain passage, which was used to get to the Ergani Maden prolific copper deposits, and another path passed through the city of Brak to Northern Syria valleys and further westward to Cilicia. The ancient roads are almost invisible in the area, but are seen on satellite photos, where they look like strips of the trampled down land, more compact than the surrounding lands. The beasts of burden such as onagers domesticated in Western Asia by the 4th millennium B.C. served as the earliest land transport means.

The cultural achievements were spread from the earliest center of civilization, i.e. Western Asia, to Europe by two ways--through the Balkans and Caucasia to the Black Sea steppe. At the turn of the 4th-3rd millennia B.C. (in the Early Bronze Age) four-wheeled bogies were already used there. The roads of that time are unknown to us but nevertheless we can assume how the cultural achievements were spread. The existing ancient "map" shows a quite recognizable route from the south, from Eastern Anatolia or Northern Mesopotamia to Northern Caucasia. It is an engraved image on the silver vessel from the burial mound near the city of Maikop, where at the end of the 19th century the richest burial mound of a representative of the public élite of the 4th millennium B.C. was found, depicting an extensive mountain massif with a double-headed peak in the center and two rivers. In general, a landscape is extremely rare in the early art and so it could not be put on this vessel by chance. The massif is identified with the Great Caucasian Range with Elbrus and Ushba mountains in the center, and the rivers Kuban and Inguri flowing into the Black Sea.

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Schematic map of Sumeri communication routes (4th mill. B.C.).

The construction of roads started with the origin of the state. The earliest paved road discovered in Egypt was leading to the place of erecting of Pharaoh Sahure's pyramid (the 5th dynasty, mid-3rd millennium B.C.). The road of about 4 m wide was constructed using stone blocks laid transversely. Its central part is badly damaged as heavy tonnage stone blocks were transported by this road on bull-drawn massive cargo sledges. These scenes are depicted in detail on paintings inside the pyramids. In particular, it is shown how the road is watered to reduce friction of the sledge runners.

The light wooden dog-drawn sledges were invented by Neolithic tribes approximately at the same time (4th millennium B.C.) to travel on snowy plains of Northern and Eastern Europe. The parts of such sledges are preserved in peat bogs of Ural and Baltic regions. The sledge consisted of flat runners bent upward in front with a number of vertical risers to support the cargo platform. There were several types of sledges, in particular, with one runner of the toboggan type.

The revolution in development of the land transport was associated with invention of a wheel. According to the archeological evidence, the potter's wheel appeared in Mesopotamia in the 6th millennium B.C., and a reliable proof of the existence of a wheeled cart refers to the 4th millennium B.C. Onagers and bulls served as draught animals. Two- and four-wheeled carts already existed in Western Asia in the 3rd millennium B.C. (Gorelik, 1985). Their images and models are preserved. The four-wheeled cart is depicted on a painted vessel from Khaf-adje in Eastern Iraq (Early-dynastic II period, 2700-2500 B.C.). It is a heavy cart with solid massive wheels made of wooden planks. The rectangular body with high sides holds four persons and extra cargo. It is drawn by a team of four onagers lined and managed by a special driver using numerous reins passed through special distributing rings. Such cart could move rather quickly despite its awkwardness and heaviness on flat plains of Mesopotamia in a dry season.

The detailed images of four- and two-wheeled carts are available on the famous "standard" from the Royal cemetery of Ur (mid-3rd millennium B.C.). The design of wheels and a harness are perceptible to the eye. The solid wheels consist of three parts, i.e. a middle part with a hub and extreme segments fastened with short crossbars. The cart front wall is high for protection of soldiers with a cut on top for reins and a quiver for darts fastened on one side. The wheels of a two-wheeled cart are equipped with tires. Lighter two-wheeled carts of a special design have a bent beam transforming into a squared beam with a seat for one person. The copper model from Tell Agrab is best known. Such cart was light, mobile and could be used in time of war or during hunting, moving at a speed unknown before. The Metropolitan Museum in the USA keeps a bronze model of the combat cart harnessed by a pair of bulls from Eastern Anatolia and dating by the turn of the 3rd-2nd millennia B.C. (Mus-carella, 1988). The bar-shaped cart is equipped with four solid wheels with the front wall considerably higher and massive than other walls. The beam has a forked rear end, while the front end with a yoke is tied to bull horns. The cart is driven by reins and rings passed through the animal's nose.

The carts were of great value and a sign of a high social rank of their owners. The remains of such carts with bony skeletons of draught bulls and drivers were found in the rich regal burial mounds in Central Anatolia (the Alacja Höyük burial ground, mid-3rd millennium B.C.) and in the burial mound of Queen Puabi in the Royal cemetery of Ur (Woolley, 1934). The similar findings are

стр. 105

Landscape-"map" on a silver vessel from the Maikop burial mound (4th mill. B.C.).

Dog harness sledge. Neolithic of the Ural region (4th-3rd mill. B.C.). Wood. Reconstruction.

Decorated vessel from Khafadje (beginning of the 3rd mill. B.C.). Clay.

also known in burial mounds of Southern Russia (Kan-torovich, Maslov, 2009).

In the 2nd millennium B.C. the domesticated horse became a main draught animal. The Egyptian cavalry was famous in the ancient world. In the epoch of the New Kingdom the armies had numerous combat carts, which enabled pharaohs to defeat their enemies. These events are depicted on the reliefs of Sety I in the Karnak place of worship and in paintings on the Tutankhamun tomb.

In the Bronze Age wheeled carts were widespread in the Black Sea steppe. The modern technique of burial mound excavations allowed to register numerous cases of carts placed into cists (Origin and Spread of Chariots. 2008). Such archeological findings are known in the steppes of Eastern Europe: in the Kuban region (burial mounds near the Cossack village of Lebedi, the farmyard Ostanniy, etc.), in Kalmykia and in the lower reaches of the Don river. The cart spindles were fixed. The wheels were made as before of three thick boards with a massive hub projected in the center. The cart body design was more complex than that of the first Middle East carts with a frame made of massive longitudinal beams and lighter crossbars. Floor boards were secured on the frame by numerous vertical risers, sometimes in several layers, which provided lightness and strength of the structure simultaneously. In front on the platform a special seat with handrails was provided for a driver, and the rear part of the cart was for cargo. The beam was made of a forked tree trunk with its crutch secured on the cart body sides, which made the cart's maneuvers difficult on turning. The yoke for a pair of bulls was fixed to the front end. The cart body and wheels sometimes have traces of red and black painting. The body sizes make up on average 1.2 x 2.6 m, the wheel diameter is about 70 cm and the track width is approximately 1.5 m (Gay, 2000).

The tribes which left behind steppe burial mounds were cattle breeders and led a mobile mode of life making seasonal movements together with their herds. They had no settlements with permanent houses. They installed structures of a wagon type on carts, which consisted of a light wooden frame covered with felt. A wonderful find of the 3rd millennium B.C. was discovered in the Chogray burial mound in the Stavropol region (Andreyeva, 1989). It is a clayey model (possibly a toy), its wheels are not preserved but the high body is shown in detail with a dome-shaped top and three round windows in front and on each side. In the lower part of the walls there are small holes which served for fixing of the wagon on the cart platform by straps or ropes. We have a typical dwelling of a steppe nomad before us. The wagon walls are decorated with a zigzag-shaped ornament, conveyed by the patterned felt.

Spreading of peoples of the Indo-European languages in the 2nd millennium B.C. is attributed to the usage of two-wheeled combat chariots. Discovery of the Sintasht burial mound in Southern Ural was another wonderful

стр. 106

find (Gening, Zdanovich, 1992). Here combat carts of a complex design were discovered in the cists. They had two wheels with 8-10 wooden spokes and a square 1.2 x 0.9 m (on average) body made of planks and open from the rear. The beam was bent with the yoke attached to it for a pair of horses (their bones were also discovered in the burial mound). The axle and the beam were originally connected, i.e. by squared beams installed outside on each side of the cart body. The small sizes (track width 1.2 m), lightness and mobility made these carts an excellent transport facility for combat purposes, which enabled the Aryan tribes to quickly cover large distances in the Eurasian steppes and forest steppes. As in the Middle East, such chariots served as a sign of the high social status of the buried soldiers.

The winter routes behind the Urals presented a serious problem. There specific means of transportation were used, i.e. horse-drawn and skis. The bronze dagger handle from the Rostovka burial mound (16th cent. B.C.) bears a picture of the thickset horse like Przevalsky's horse; the bridle is fastened to long and strong reins, and the skier holds on to them. The skier's legs are slightly bent in knees and he is standing with his legs apart, he is depicted following the horse as if moving fast.

The Iron Age (the 1st millennium B.C.) is marked by a wide spread of different wheeled transport. The Scythian tribes living in the 7th-2nd centuries B.C. in the Northern Black Sea region were mostly mobile cattle breeders and smart horsemen. The Ancient Greek historian Herodotus wrote that their dwellings were arranged on carts. Clayey models (toys) of the Scythian carts of different forms came down to us. Four-wheeled carts with a dome-shaped dwelling zone--a wagon, made of felt fastened to a light wooden frame were used as a mobile dwelling at that time just as in the Bronze Age. There were also cargo carts without a roof but with a deep bulky body. The wheels of all models are solid, but this peculiarity is explained most likely not by a design of the carts proper but by a material of models, as it is impossible to make a wheel with spokes from clay.

A striking find was made in the Pazyryk burial mound in Altai. In the 5th-4th centuries B.C. there lived tribes kindred to Scythians, who maintained active ties with Central Asia and even China. In the severe climate of

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Cart from the Ostanniy burial mound of the Novotitarovskaya culture (beginning of the 3rd mill. B.C.). Wood. Reconstruction.

Chariot from the Sintasht burial mound (2nd mill. B.C.). Wood. Reconstruction.

Siberia, there gradually formed frozen ground conditions in the cist, which preserved organic residues. Due to this fact the burial site of the chief of the tribe included a fully preserved ceremonial four-wheeled cart of the Chinese type with a light body and a roof resting on turned poles. The large wheels have 33 thin spokes each, and massive axles protrude far behind the wheel surface. The chariot is kept at the Hermitage (St. Petersburg).

A wonderful golden statuette from the Amu Darya treasure (4th-2nd cent. B.C.) found in 1877 in the territory of the present Tajikistan (ancient Bactria) and kept now at the British Museum relates to the Hellenic period. The composition depicts a combat chariot-quadriga in microscopic details. The driver holds the reins, and the distinguished Bactrian is sitting. The large wheels with 8 spokes each are bound with metal tires (protruding nails are shown). There are two beams and one common yoke in the form of a squared beam. The horse harness is shown in detail, i.e. a bridle, bit with cheek straps, belts and reins.

ANCIENT ROADS

The ancient states of the antique period engaged in road construction and their safety, which was a responsibility of each state of Ancient Greece. The roads were of a standard width (about 3 m) and were laid on a stony ground or cut through rocks. Even in a war-time the roads were considered inviolable as well as temples. In his book Histories Herodotus described a royal road laid by the Persian rulers in the 6th century B.C. from Sharda in the west of Asia Minor to Susam in the South West Iran. Its length was about 2,500 km. Stations with coaching inns were constructed along the roads at equal intervals, and military posts and fortified gates were erected in strategic points, for example, at river crossings (Herodotus, V, 52-54).

Numerous towns or communities founded by natives of continental Greece existed in the North Pontic zone in the territory of the present Russia and Ukraine. Their inhabitants possessed the technology of road construction, which is confirmed by the archeological evidence of paved urban streets (the towns of Pantikapaion or the present Kerch, Gorgippia or the present Anapa, Phana-goria and Hermonassa on the Taman Peninsula, etc.). The streets were paved dry with stone slabs without mortar and side streets with rubble and fragments of broken vessels. Gutters and water-pipes with stone facing lay along streets, and wells also with stone facing were constructed at cross-roads (Ancient States of the Northern Black Sea Region, 1984). Carts with solid wheels made of massive wood planks and a bull-drawn served as a cargo transport, and distinguished people and soldiers moved in light two-wheeled chariots, drawn by two or four horses.

There are numerous images of the Greek vehicles and chariots, for example, on the wall of Demetra's burial vault in Kerch or on painted vessels with stories of military scenes and tournaments (2nd-1st cent. B.C.). The Ancient Greek artists gave a special attention to the heroes of Homer and scenes of the Trojan War. Light combat chariots had a bent beam and two wheels with 6 or 8 spokes each. The wheels were not large, which made the whole cart sufficiently stable on turning. Horses were harnessed with a soft leather yoke. The open rear of the cart body had handrails the soldier could hold on to. The cart body was willow-wattled, heavier ones were made of planks, and both were strengthened and decorated with false bronze number plates. Usually combat chariots were designed for two persons, i.e. a soldier and a driver. Combat cart driving was considered a high art, and the Olympic Games program included cart racing.

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The Roman roads were the highest achievement in ancient transport systems. The Roman state paid much attention to road construction which played a key military and civil role in functioning of the enormous empire. The ancient Via Appia was constructed in the 4th century B.C., and on the map of the ancient Rome we can see numerous roads branching off in a star-like way from the city center thus connecting it with the remotest provinces. The Romans invented concrete and used it widely in road construction. They produced concrete from slate of soft rocks reduced in size. They put evenly dressed and mortared stone slabs on a massive and often multi-layer pad of stone and ballast. The stone slabs could be of rectangular or irregular form. The road width was standard, it made up around 5 m in the central provinces of the empire, which allowed two carts to pass one another. The ditches were constructed along a road, the distance was marked with stones with 1 mile spacing. At that time there existed a great number of different carts, such as bull-drawn cargo carts, combat and sport chariots, different size and type carts, with a roof or closed designed for long travels. There were special terms for designation of each type of carts.

TRANSPORT ROUTES IN THE ANCIENT RUS

The downfall of the Roman Empire in the 4th century A.D. endangered by Barbarian tribes and onset of the Middle Ages signified a loss of a great number of achievements of civilization, including breakdown of the road system. Rivers which provided navigation from spring to autumn and sleighing in winter were the vital communication routes in the medieval Old Russian state. Rivers served as essential trade routes to other countries. For example, by the Volga river to Iran and Central Asia, by the Volkhov and Dnieper rivers--"from Varangians to Greeks", i.e. from Scandinavia to Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire. In passing from one river basin to another, dry lands (portages) were overcome by moving boats on supporting rollarounds over a dry surface. In places of portages there grew up towns such as Smolensk, Volokolamsk, Vyshny Volochok and small trade and handicraft settlements. Burial mounds (such as the great Gnezdovo burial mound near Smolensk) with numerous burial places of soldiers and traders were also located nearby. The characteristic features of funeral rites and finds allow to identify a sizable population group of the Scandinavian origin. The trade routes were marked with finds of numerous buried treasures of silver coins and precious articles. The basic commodities in the period of Kievan Rus were: furs, honey, wax, slaves, textile, precious metal goods, wine.

The prince's administration took care of the condition of ground roads, and construction of roads of brushwood in boggy areas was one of its targets. The ancient Laurentian chronicle includes a decree of Kievan grand prince Saint Vladimir (10th cent.): "Clear a road and construct a bridge", and "The Lay of Igor's Warfare" (12th cent.) describes a victorious march of Russian troops throwing precious textiles procured in battles under horses' legs as if forming a road of brushwood.

The sledge and wheeled carts were major means of ground transport in the Old Rus. Their choice was conditioned not so much by the development level of technology and opportunities of engineering solutions as by the condition of means of communication. The sledge was most common type of a horse-drawn cart in the Northern Rus. It was used practically all the year round

Sculptural decoration of a dagger from the Rostovka burial mound (2nd mill. B.C.). Bronze.

Chariot from the Pazyryksky burial mound (4th cent. B.C.). Wood. Hermitage (St. Petersburg).

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Development plan of a residential district in Pantikapaion (5th cent. B.C.).

in the conditions of almost impassable and often swampy roads. The sledge of Princess Olga is mentioned in the Primary Chronicle of 947, and it was kept in the medieval Pskov as a relic. The wheeled carts were widely used in the South Russian lands. The strategic enemies of Russian princes (Pechenegs and Polovtsians) wandered in the steppe in carts with felt wagons installed on them similar to Scythian carts.

In general, there were few roads in the Old Rus, mainly dirt roads and under-developed. The urban streets were better. In woody lands they were paved with timber. The prince's and town administration took care of the condition of paved roads. Special documents which regulated the procedure of their construction and repair including timber procurement and delivery came down to us. These duties were disributed among urban population and residents of suburban villages who were responsible for paving and repair of the entrusted areas. "The Lesson of Bridge-Building Specialists" in the ancient Russian collection of laws Russian Law (1072) and Prince Yaroslav's Statute on Street Pavement written in 1265-1266 reached us too.

The wooden pavements are thoroughly studied by archeologists. They were discovered in many cities of the forest zone such as Smolensk, Tver, Pskov, Berestye, Moscow, Toropets and, of course, Veliky Novgorod. Increased soil moisture is an essential feature of this city, owing to which wood and other organic materials are preserved in the cultivated layer. It is just in Novgorod that street plankings renewed from the 10th to the 15th centuries were studied successively by archeologists. Their number made up around 30 layers in the ancient part of the city. The good state of this wood served as a base for development of a dendrochronological method of dating of archeological objects. The method is based on calculation of the width of annual rings on beam sections. The statistical analysis of the annual growth of rings makes it possible to calculate to within one year dates of wooden constructions and associated findings. The first and most ancient pavement of Chemitsyna street in Veliky Novgorod was constructed in 938 and that of Velikaya street in 953 (Kolchin, 1968).

Construction of pavements was traditional and lasted for centuries up to the 18th century. The pavement was laid on three longitudinal round beams placed at a distance of 1.3-1.6 m from each other along a long axis of the street. On top of them massive lateral blocks--split along the beam (25-40 cm diameter) were laid with their flat side upwards, closely fitted to each other. Half-round grooves were cut out from below which corresponded to ground joists thus achieving durability of the pavement. The pavement width was 3-4 m. Pine and spruce were used for construction of pavements. Dirt and animal dung were scraped away from pavements but with time the timber decks were buried in the cultured layer formed on each side, and they had to be restored. The pavements suffered heavily from frequent fires. Usually the pavement was functioning for 15-30 years. Squares were also paved. The First Chronicle of Pskov (1308) mentions that the governor Boris paved the trading square in Pskov for the benefit of people.

The large streets and market places of northern Russian towns had sufficiently complex engineering constructions. Drainage systems designed for diverting of ground waters were constructed along paved roads in a wet soil. They consisted of water collectors dug in the ground in the form of barrels and small log wells covered with birch-bark and beams. Wooden pipes were cut into these wells, some of them served for water collection, and others (of a larger diameter) were used for water discharge to a river or stream. The pipes were made of beams of 40-60 cm diameter cleaved lengthwise and hollowed out, while the inner diameter of the pipe reached 20 cm. The lengthwise sections of beams were not hori-

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Crossing of Velikaya and Kozmodemyanskaya streets (12th cent). Drainage facilities. Veliky Novgorod.

The sledge and cargo sled. Veliky Novgorod. Reconstruction.

zontal but stepped, which prevented two halves of the pipe from sliding relative to each other. Structural joints were filled with birch-bark spacers.

The richest collection of sledge elements (runners, poppets, edges, shafts, etc.) come from Novgorod region. Runners were made of bent oak beams of different section up to 3.3 m long. The sledge width was about 70 cm. A number of poppets (risers with a horizontal branch) were inserted into grooves of the runner, and the neighboring poppets were tied with twigs to strengthen them. The external side of poppets was often decorated with carved elements, and their upper ends were inserted into grooves of edges (horizontal beams). The edges formed a horizontal platform of the sledge, on which an open body in the form of a box and a closed body of the cart could be installed. The shaft was put on to the first poppet with its front end connected to a bow and ring (both are available in the Novgorod finds). The design of the medieval sledge differs from the modern peasant sledge by the fact that the body width of the former corresponds to a distance between the runners, while the body of the modern sledge is wider.

There existed sledges of different types. According to sizes and design they come under the following groups: cargo, light passenger with a body and racing, closed sleigh of a large size, hand sledge and toboggan. In addition to sledges, cargo sleds were used for cargo (in particular, logs) transportation. They were also found in Novgorod. Shafts of cargo sleds were made of a tree with a butt end. In the rear butt end, used as a runner, the shafts were bent upward. A cross bar was put on to this shaft by means of grooves, and the cargo was fixed on the bar. A hard ring on a wooden base was invented in the East and appeared in Rus in the 10th century, i.e. earlier than in Western Europe. The ring allows more complete use of a horse power and more equal distribution of the load than a yoke and a soft leather harness and does not harm the animal. It consists of two halves or jaws sheathed with leather. Tugs which connect the ring with a bow and shafts are passed through ring holes.

Carts are less known by archeological materials. In Novgorod and Berestye (present Brest, Belarus) only several wheels were found, and they date from the 11th-12th centuries. The diameter of the Novgorod wheel is large and is about 85 cm. The wheel tread is made of a solid bent oak bar and has nine oak spokes. There are pockets for spokes hollowed out in the tread and hub, and the spokes were additionally fixed with wedges in these pockets. The hub is a massive turned pig with a central hole for an axis of 6 cm diameter and pockets for spokes. The wheel design is technically perfect and does not differ from the best samples of cart wheels of the 19th century.

The sledge and four-wheeled cart from the burial place of a distinguished lady in Oseberg (Norway, 9th cent.) are rather well-preserved to judge by them what the land transport of Vikings--soldiers, traders, members of prince's armed force--looked like at that time. The Primary Chronicle narrates about a call of Varangian princes Rurik, Sineus and Truvor by the local (mainly Slavonic) population in 862 to reign in Novgorod, Izborsk and Beloozero. The Varangian soldiers moved by boat and on horseback but could use a parade vehicle only of such type. The wide composite wheel treads are made of oak planks. The spokes (16 in a wheel) are inserted into tread grooves and of a massive turned hub. The plank body has a semicircular bottom and is covered on the outside with a rich carving in the form of an intricate plaiting. The body is removable and is installed on strong semicircular supports with carved ends, which have the shape of a bearded human face.

The Great Volga Route connected the medieval Rus, Scandinavia and Northern Europe with the Caspian region and countries of the East. Its intensive use falls on

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The wheel and a half of the ring. Veliky Novgorod.

the 12th-14th centuries when the state of Volga Bulgars on the Volga riverside was captured by the Mongols and Tatars, who established there their state--Golden Horde. In points of intersection of the river route with land roads the following largest towns were set up: Sarai (in the Volga estuary) and New Sarai (200 km upstream on Akhtuba, the Volga arm). One land route led to the west--the Crimea, then to the Mediterranean, in particular, to Constantinople, another--to the east--to Khoresm and then to India and China, and also to the south--to Persia and Arab countries. The Volga Route was used to deliver eastern silver to Eastern Europe and precious fur from the Kama basin and the North Ural, the Russian linen, honey, wax and slaves went to the Mediterranean and the East. Silks were delivered from Central Asia and China and spices, precious stones, pearl, ivory, silk and cotton textiles from Persia and India. Byzantine Empire supplied wine, olive oil in special containers and glassware to markets of the Volga towns.

Smooth-running of trade routes was an indispensable condition of maintaining brisk trade. In the Golden Horde special military detachments ensured safety of merchant caravans on roads. A network of caravanserais was organized, which provided safe parking places where merchants replenished stocks of water and provisions. The travellers and traders of the 14th-15th centuries described with admiration the Golden Horde roads: "Caravans started usually from Khoresm and moved safely with their carts to the Crimea without fear and anxiety, though this trip took about three months" (Ibn-Arabshah). "The road to China is absolutely safe both by day and night" (Pegalotti). The location of the Golden Horde towns at the intersection of the Great Volga Route with the land caravan roads strengthened the status of the state and the khan administration at the expense of taxes and forced them to maintain the communication routes in good order. The whole system declined by the 16th century together with the decline of the Golden Horde state.

The same routes were used by messengers and embassies and also for delivery of official mail pieces. For this purpose there existed a system of stations or mail staging-posts (yams) with relief horses and stocks of food and water. The term yam took root in the Russian language to denote the horse mail service. The yam service has been known in Rus from the 13th century. It is just this remote epoch when a typical phenomenon of Russian life "the flying troika" with a small bell and a dashing coachman has originated.


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