This groundbreaking work with a focus on the Holy Land includes much original research by the author as well as a well referenced summary of postal history research scattered across the journals of societies dedicated to study of Holy Land postal history and the development of postal communications. Covering the millennia from the biblical era to the advent of the Ottoman postal system the first letters illustrated display the earliest recorded notations referring to delivery of letters dating back to the late biblical period. For the period from Roman and Byzantine times to the eighteenth century, religious and other early archival documents, and the writings of travellers, have been scanned for information of postal history interest. There is much detail regarding the Crusader and Mameluk eras, and the Venetian postal system as it impacted on the Holy Land and the Levant. Much also has been gleaned from research into the archive known as the Genizah, a medieval Egyptian repository of Jewish and Islamic documents uncovered by researchers late in the nineteenth century but with much of its material still the subject of serious academic study. The system for information transmission referred to in those documents was hitherto unknown to postal historians. The latter portion of the book deals with the relevant portions of the Livorno archive auctioned by Robson Lowe in the mid-1980s, the growth of ecclesiastical and consular communication networks, the Napoleonic era and that of Mehemet Ali, and the forerunners to the nineteenth century French and Austrian maritime services as well as British packet services across the Mediterranean. Routes and rates are discussed in detail and all key known covers are listed with their markings analysed. Those listings both within chapter frameworks and in dedicated appendices have been enhanced by the way that the author has reviewed all major auction catalogues of sales including material relating to the area under examination. The book ends with chapters on the private forwarding services that supplemented the unreliable Ottoman Post, and disinfected mail from the Holy Land.
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