World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Caravan (travellers)

Article Id: WHEBN0015375164
Reproduction Date:

Title: Caravan (travellers)  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Convoy, List of Seljuk hans and kervansarays in Turkey, Caravan to Lhasa, Kyzylkala, Manolis Angelopoulos
Collection: Trade Routes
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Caravan (travellers)

Edwin Lord Weeks, Arrival of a Caravan Outside the City of Morocco
A trade caravan passing the Isle of Graia in the Gulf of Akabah, Arabia Petraea, 1839 lithograph by Louis Haghe from an original by David Roberts
Camel caravan in Somalia

A caravan (from Persian: کاروان‎‎) is a group of people traveling together, often on a trade expedition. Caravans were used mainly in desert areas and throughout the Silk Road, where traveling in groups aided in defense against bandits as well as helping to improve economies of scale in trade.

In historical times, caravans connecting East Asia and Europe often carried luxurious and lucrative goods, such as silks or jewelry. Caravans could therefore require considerable investment and were a lucrative target for bandits. The profits from a successfully undertaken journey could be enormous, comparable to the later European spice trade. The luxurious goods brought by caravans attracted many rulers along important trade routes to construct caravanserais, places where caravans could refresh their animals and supplies can be replenished. However, the volume a caravan could transport was limited even by Classical or Medieval standards. For example, a caravan of 500 camels could only transport as much as a third or half of the goods carried by a regular Byzantine merchant sailing ship.

Present-day caravans in less-developed areas of the world often still transport important goods through badly passable areas, such as seeds required for agriculture in arid regions. An example are the camel trains traversing the southern edges of the Sahara Desert.

See also


Further reading

  • Kevin Shillington (ed), "Tuareg: Takedda and trans-Saharan trade" in: Encyclopaedia of African History, Fitzroy Dearborn, 2004, ISBN 1-57958-245-1
  • T. Lewicki, "The Role of the Sahara and Saharians in Relationships between North and South", in: UNESCO General History of Africa: Volume 3, University of California Press, 1994, ISBN 92-3-601709-6
  • Fernand Braudel, The Perspective of the World, vol III of Civilization and Capitalism 1984 (translated from the French)
Antiquity and Middle Ages
  • The Trans-Saharan Gold Trade 7th-14th Century; Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • René Mouterde, André Poidebard, « La voie antique des caravanes entre Palmyre et Hît, au IIe siècle après Jésus-Christ, d'après une inscription retrouvée au Sud-Est de Palmyre (1930) », Syria, vol. 12, No. 12-22, 1931, pp. 101–115 (available online at: (French)
  • Ernest Will, « Marchands et chefs de caravanes à Palmyre », Syria, vol.34, No. 34-3-4, 1957, pp. 262–277 (available online at: (French)
17th century
  • René Caillié Journal d'un voyage à Temboctou et à Jenné, dans l'Afrique centrale, précédé d'observations faites chez les Maures Braknas, les Nalous et autres peuples ; pendant les années 1824, 1825, 1826, 1827, 1828: par René Caillié. Avec une carte itinéraire, et des remarques géographiques, par M. Jomard, membre de l'institut. Imprimé à Paris en mars 1830, par l'imprimerie royale, en trois tomes et un atlas. Une réédition en fac-similé a été réalisée par les éditions Anthropos en 1965. downloadable version
    • modern edition: Voyage à Tombouctou. 2 vols. Paris: La Découverte, 1996 ISBN 2-7071-2586-5
20th century
  • Tuladhar, Kamal Ratna (2011). Caravan to Lhasa: A Merchant of Kathmandu in Traditional Tibet. Kathmandu: Lijala & Tisa. ISBN 99946-58-91-3.
Contemporary caravans
  • Julien Brachet, « Le négoce caravanier au Sahara central: histoire, évolution des pratiques et enjeux chez les Touaregs Kel Aïr (Niger) », Les Cahiers d'outre-mer, No. 226-227, 2004, pp. 117–136 (available online at: Com.revues (French))
  • Michel Museur, « Un exemple spécifique d'économie caravanière : l'échange sel-mil », Journal des africanistes, vol.47, No. 2, 1977, pp. 49–80 (available online at: (French)
  • M'hammad Sabour and Knut S. Vikør (eds), Ethnic Encounter and Culture Change, Bergen, 1997, [1] Google Cache Last Retrieved Jan. 2005.
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.