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The mail or post is a system for physically transporting documents and other small packages, as

well as a name for the postcards, letters, and parcels themselves.[1] A postal service can be
private or public, though many governments place restrictions on private systems. Since the mid
1!th century national postal systems have generally been established as government monopolies
with a fee on the article prepaid. "roof of payment is often in the form of adhesive postage
stamps, but postage meters are also used for bulk mailing. #odern private postal systems are
typically distinguished from national postal agencies by the names $courier$ or $delivery service$.
"ostal authorities often have functions other than transporting letters. %n some countries, a "ostal
Telegraph and Telephone &"TT' service oversees the postal system as well as having authority
over telephone and telegraph systems. Some countries( postal systems allow for savings
accounts and handle applications for passports.
The word mail comes from the #edieval )nglish word male, referring to a traveling bag or pack.
[*] %t was spelled that way until the 1+th century, and is distinct from the word male. The ,rench
have a similar word, malle for a trunk or large bo-, and m.la is the %rish term for a bag. %n the 1+th
century, the word mail began to appear as a reference for a bag that contained letters/ $bag full of
letter$ &1012'. 3ver the ne-t hundred years the word mail began to be applied strictly to the letters
themselves, and the sack as the mailbag. %n the 1!th century the 4ritish usually referred to mail
as being letters that were being sent abroad &i.e. on a ship', and post as letters that were for
locali5ed delivery6 in the 78 the 9oyal #ail delivers the post, while in the 7SA the 7S "ostal
Service delivers the mail. The term email &short for $electronic mail$' first appeared in the 1!+:s.
[citation needed] The term snailmail is a retronym to distinguish it from the ;uicker email. <arious
dates have been given for its first use.
#any early post systems consisted of fi-ed courier routes. =ere, a post house on a postal route in
the 1!th century ,inland
The practice of communication by written documents carried by an intermediary from one person
or place to another almost certainly dates back nearly to the invention of writing. =owever,
development of formal postal systems occurred much later. The first documented use of an
organi5ed courier service for the diffusion of written documents is in )gypt, where "haraohs used
couriers for the diffusion of their decrees in the territory of the State &*2:: 4>'. The earliest
surviving piece of mail is also )gyptian, dating to *11 4>.[?]
#ain articles/ 9oyal 9oad and >hapar8haneh
The first credible claim for the development of a real postal system comes from Ancient "ersia,
but the point of invention remains in ;uestion. The best documented claim &@enophon' attributes
the invention to the "ersian 8ing >yrus the Areat &11: 4>',[2] while other writers credit his
successor Barius % of "ersia &1*1 4>'. 3ther sources claim much earlier dates for an Assyrian
postal system, with credit given to =ammurabi &1+:: 4>' and Sargon %% &+** 4>'. #ail may not
have been the primary mission of this postal service, however. The role of the system as an
intelligence gathering apparatus is well documented, and the service was &later' called angariae,
a term that in time came to indicate a ta- system. The 3ld Testament &)sther, <%%%' makes
mention of this system/ Ahasuerus, king of #edes, used couriers for communicating his
The "ersian system worked on stations &called >hapar8haneh', where the message carrier
&called >hapar' would ride to the ne-t post, whereupon he would swap his horse with a fresh one,
for ma-imum performance and delivery speed. =erodotus described the system in this way/ $%t is
said that as many days as there are in the whole Courney, so many are the men a