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28 June 2006

Steppe Routes from Karshi to the Amu-Daria

Morgan, E. Delmar. 1881. Steppe Routes from Karshi to the Amu-Daria. In:
Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society and Monthly Record of Geography, New Monthly Series, Vol. 3, No. 12. (Dec., 1881), pp. 723-731.
Stable URL:

From two great centers of Central Asia, Bokhara and Karshi, the following routes lead across the steppe to the Amu-daria:

1. From Bokhara to Charjui, with branch from Kara-kul to Fort Osta. [p. 724]

2. From Karshi to Naruzima.
(Karshi - Shirin-djui hamlet - Denau - Alang well - tali-pakta bitter well - Utech-oguz - Naruzima) 105 miles.
[p. 730]

3. From Karshi to Burdalyk
(Karshi - Shirin-djui hamlet - Denau - Alang well - Sardoba Chil-gumbez - Tash-kuduk well - Burdalyk town) - 85 miles. [p. 729]

4a. From Karshi to Kerki
(Karshi - Nishan bitter well - Sansulak - Kerki town) - 75 miles [p. 731]

4b. From Karshi to Kerki
(Karshi - Yenghi-kent hamlet - Kuzar town - Kerkinchak well - Gurchak - Sansulak - Kerki town) - 104 miles [p. 731]

5. From Karshi to Kelif
(Karshi - Huzar - Kelif) [p. 724]

6. From Samarkand to Karshi
(Samarkand - Djain - Kermina town - River Sypta (tributary of Narupai) - Yablu-kuduk well - Arab-kudik well - Kassan hamlet - Karshi town) - 75 miles on the stretch from Kermina to Karshi
[p. 730]

7. From Bokhara to Burdalyk
(Bokhara - Serai hamlet - Kichik-ob well - Tash-akur well - Nakhta well - Tash-kuduk well - Burdalyk town) - 97 miles [p. 730]

8. From Bokhara to Farab, crossing the Amu-daria opposite Charjui
(Bokhara - Mazar-hoshe-tiube - Hodja Islam ruins - Yak-tut hamlet - Shari-haiber ruins - Paikan hamlet - Kara-kul town - Hodja-daulat hamlet - Mazar Hodja Yussuf - Salt marsh - Farab hamlet) - 80 miles
[p. 730]

(all place names follow the source's convention - tmc)

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A visual database/gazetteer of natural and man-made features, together with their long/lat coordinates [in decimal degrees] extracted from Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) databases, for each country of the world. The covered features include:

** City or Community :
* PPLA - major cities (seat of a first-order admin division) * PPLC - country capital * PPLL - populated locality * PPLQ - abandoned populated place * PPLW - destroyed populated place

** Administrative Region [entities and divisions]

** Spot Feature (man-made features) :
* ANS - ancient site * BDG - bridge * BLDG - building(s) * CSTL - castle * FRM - farm * FT - fort * GDN - garden(s) * HLT - halting place * MKT - market * ML - mill(s) * MLWTR - water mill * MN - mine(s) * MNAU - gold mine(s) * MNC - coal mine(s) * MNCU - copper mine(s) * MNFE - iron mine(s) * MNPB - lead mine(s) * MNQR - quarry(-ies) * MSQE - mosque * MSTY - monastery * PAL - palace * PSTP - patrol post * RHSE - resthouse [i.e. caravansarai] * RUIN - ruin(s) * SHPF - sheepfold * SHRN - shrine * TMB - tomb(s) * WALLA - ancient wall

** Land Resource :

* GAP - gap * GRGE - gorge(s) * PASS - pass

Water Resource :
* CNL - canal * CNLA - aqueduct * CNLSB - underground irrigation canal(s) * HBR - harbor(s) * RSVT - water tank * SPNG - spring(s) * STM - stream * WAD - wadi * WLL - well * WLLS - wells * WTRC - watercourse * WTRH - waterhole(s)

** Road or Railroad

** Area

** Vegetation :
* CULT - cultivated area * FRST - forest(s) * GRVP - palm grove * OCH - orchard(s)

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Newest GIS data sets from "OWTRAD Dromographic Digital Data Archives (ODDDA)"

The Asia & the Middle East section of the "OWTRAD Dromographic Digital Data Archives (ODDDA)" now publishes two new
GIS data sets, namely:

  • tmcCNm1850.html Yunnan, China, Laos, Burma, and Vietnam circa 1850 CE, 'Tea' routes
    [36 routes' segments; Src: Beijing Portal 2004a; georeferenced]

  • tmcCNm0620.html Tibet, Sichuan and Yunnan, 620 CE-1940 CE - 'Tea and Horse' routes
    [71 routes' segments; Src: CRI 2006; georeferenced]

  • The Archives also publish an extended (in Jun 2006) edition of the data set

  • tmcCNm1500.html China, 1368 CE-1644 CE, Imperial courier (I-chan) routes
    [468 routes' segments; Src: Hoshi 1971 and Elvin 1982; georeferenced]

  • Please note that the above details were correct on the day this post was published. To suggest an update, please email the site's editor at

    20 June 2006

    Principal trade routes of ancient Palestine

    "The coastal route along the eastern Mediterranean was known as the "Way of the Sea", or from the Latin, Via Maris from the Latin. The road was a main trade route connecting Egypt with Anatolia and Mesopotamia. There were two branches, one near the coast and one inland, in the area of the Philistine Plain. These came together at Aphek and only a single branch continued through the Sharon Plain, around the swamp area, through the Aruna Pass to Megiddo. This provides a clue as to why Megiddo was a significant fortification in Solomon’s day.

    Ancient palestine trade routes

    It was an important route for travel and trade. The Via Maris cuts across the Jezreel Valley, through the hills of Lower Galilee, skirts the shore of the Sea of Galilee, heads northeast to Damascus from Hazor. [...]"

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    Routes of the Radhanite Merchants

    Radhanite trade routes

    The sites includes exterpts from "The Itinerary of Benjamin of Tudela" (a Jewish traveler in the 12th C.)

    Please note that the above details were correct on the day this post was published. To suggest an update, please email the site's editor at

    06 June 2006

    Logistics of Boat Travel

    Information useful in working out logistical arrangements of small-scale traders travelling by light river boats is given in analyses of the 16 annual trips (1977-2003) of the DC3 sports group in the BWCA (Boundary Waters Canoe Area) of northern Minnesota, US

    The eight bar graphs on this page display various statistics pertaining to the annual DC3 trips. The red line on each represents a five year unweighted moving average.
    * Total Distance - The total distance of the trip in miles, including portages. ( Dt )
    * Portage Distance - The total length of all portages in rods. ( Dp )
    * Portage Count - The total number of portages made. ( P )
    * % On Land - Ratio of the distance portaged to the total distance. ( 100 * ( Dp / 320 ) / Dt )
    * Activity Level - Ratio of the number of active days to the number of total days. ( 100 * Ya / Yt )
    * Average Portage - The length of the average portage in rods. ( Dp / P )
    * Average Day - The average distance in miles (including portages) traveled per active day. ( Dt / Ya )
    * Difficulty - [a very useful Difficulty Factor algorithm - ed.]"

    See also practical advice of the "Canoe Country Wilderness Canoeing" web site in their section on
    Portage Techniques

    One mile equals 320 rods [a rod = 16.5 feet, or about the length of a canoe)
    (a) Single pack, double carry: [three trips across the portage]
    (b) Double pack, single carry: [the portage is taken once rather than three times.]
    (c) Portage-and-a-half: [portagers' idle time is minimized]
    (d) Leapfrog [good method for long portages]:

    As well as the DC3 skills list
    * Camp Set Up: Hanging the Food Pack [to protect it from scavengers]; Water [treatment of it, to protect travellers
    from infection]; The Kitchen; Other [placement of tents] and the section on
    * Gear (the choice and management of: Canoes; Tents; Packs; Cookware; Sleeping Bags; Clothing; Gadgets; Other)

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    Nepalese Children as Porters

    A 2000 report by IPEC-Nepal

    "Child porters are used to carry goods in many urban market centres, to load, unload and fetch luggage in bus parks, and to transport goods and construction materials on various cross-country routes. The use of children as porters has been a traditional survival strategy for impoverished rural families for generations. Over 90 percent of all child porters originally come from rural areas.

    There are two types of child porters: short distance porters who work in market/business centres and bus parks, and long distance porters who carry loads along rural routes and who are generally seasonal workers. IPEC estimates that there are about 46,000 children long-distance child porters and about 3,900 short-distance child porters in Nepal. Most are boys between the ages of 10 and 17 years of age. Short distance porters tend to be older, 15 years on average, while long distance porters are on average 14 years old.

    While Nepalese law prohibits minors from carrying more than 25 kilos, this restriction is largely ignored. As wages are often determined by the weight of the load, these children frequently carry loads that exceed their own body weight. According to a recent IPEC Rapid Assessment Survey, the average weight load of a short distance child porter is 56 kilos, while that for long distance child porters is 35 kilos.

    Child porters face a number of serious health risks: increased heart, circulatory and digestive problems; tuberculosis; malnutrition and stunted growth; chronic leg and back pain; and a life expectancy shortened by as much as 20 to 30 years. The longer the distance, the greater the exposure to hazards. Long distance porters carry loads for many days (on average six), do not eat regularly and risk accidents on dangerous mountain paths."

    Please note that the above details were correct on the day this post was published. To suggest an update, please email the site's editor at

    05 June 2006

    Nepalese Porters May Be World's Most Efficient Haulers 0616_050616_nepalporter.html

    nepalese porters
    Ben Harder
    for National Geographic News
    June 16, 2005
    "Often, you see husband-and-wife trekking teams," Heglund said. Porters stock up on goods in the Kathmandu Valley and carry their loads from dawn to dusk over the course of a week or more to reach Namche, which sits at 11,500 feet (3,500 meters). En route, the porters traverse more than 60 miles (100 kilometers) along rugged footpaths. [...] After the porters sell their goods in Namche, they race home unencumbered for more cargo.
    "They literally run down the mountain," Heglund said. "They can get home in about two days."
    A porter's gear is simple but effective: The load goes into an oversized basket, or doko, which rests against the back. A strap runs underneath the doko and over the crown of the head, which bears most of the weight. Each porter also carries a T-shaped walking stick called a tokma.
    When on the move, porters sometimes pause more than they walk. "On a steep incline," Heglund said, "they'll walk for as little as 15 seconds and rest for 45." At each stop, they use their tokma to support their load, which allows a standing rest.

    For technical details see
    Energetics of Load Carrying in Nepalese Porters
    Guillaume J. Bastien, Bènèdicte Schepens, Patrick A. Willems, Norman C. Heglund
    Science 17 June 2005:
    Vol. 308. no. 5729, p. 1755 (

    "[...] The town of Namche (at an altitude of 3500 m) near Mount Everest hosts a weekly bazaar. Porters (Fig. 1A), predominantly ethnic Rai, Sherpa, or Tamang, typically take 7 to 9 days to travel to Namche from the Kathmandu valley. The route, no more than a dirt footpath, covers a horizontal distance of 100 km, with total ascents (river crossings to mountain passes) of 8000 m and total descents of 6300 m.
    One day before the bazaar, we counted 545 male and 97 female porters (and 32 yaks) en route to Namche; others passed by earlier and later in the darkness. We weighed randomly selected porters and their loads (4). The men carried loads of 93 ± 36% of their Mb [Mb = their body weight - ed.] (mean ± SD, n = 96 male porters), whereas the women carried 66 ± 21% of their Mb (n = 17 female porters). The youngest porter was 11 years old, and the oldest 68; the greatest load measured was 183% of Mb, and 20% of the men carried >125% of their Mb. More than 30 tons of material were ported to Namche that day.
    The load versus speed versus energy-cost trade-off chosen by these porters is to walk slowly for many hours each day, take frequent rests, and carry the greatest loads possible. We observed, for example, a group of heavily loaded porters making slow headway up a steep ascent out of a river gorge. Following whistled commands from their leader, they would take up their loads and labor uphill for no more than 15 s at a time, followed by a 45-s period of rest. Incredibly, this group of barefoot porters was headed for Tibet, across the Nangpa glacier (altitude 5716 m), about another week's travel beyond Namche.

    So how do they do it? They might reduce the muscular work required to carry a load or increase their overall efficiency. The actual mechanism is unknown at this time."

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