Ancient Shipping: The First Courier Services

Prior to the industrial era, being a courier was a much more labor intensive position. In fact, many ancient couriers used to deliver messages from one place to the next by running. Legend has it that in 490 BC, one of the Greek soldiers who fought in the Battle of Marathon, against the invading Persians, ran from Marathon to Athens to notify the people of Athens of victory. After announcing his message, he died of exhaustion. The distance of this run is said to be about 26 miles.

Couriers often made use of whatever transportation they had available. This might include horses, bicycles, or just their own two feet. There were some people who even successfully used homing pigeons to transport messages. Regardless of what method the couriers used, they all offered speed, making it easier for people to have their message delivered as soon as possible.

Ancient Courier Systems

Running, or at least walking, messages and mail from one location to the next was very common in the ancient world. Royals often employed their own couriers who were responsible for running messages back and forth for the king. Message might range from battle information to inviting guests for a meal. The system continued through the centuries and was used frequently during wars, including the American Revolutionary War.

The Modern Courier

Wells Fargo made its first appearance in 1852 to deliver packages, specifically in the newest territories and states. The Pony Express in 1860 served as a precursor to the eventual postal system. Today, courier systems use modern technology to get packages to their destination swiftly and securely.

The ancient art of courier systems was responsible for transporting messages throughout the ancient world. From information about battles to announce arriving guests, their role was crucial. Their work paved the way for modern courier systems that continue to connect society.