Delivering post by foot in medieval north India
Manan Ahmed, Jeremiah Trinidad-Christensen,
Emily Fuhrman

This map depicts the known and extrapolated range of a 9th century postal route across medieval north India, as described in Arabic Classical Accounts of India and China, "Book I: Roads and Kingdoms" [1]. By incorporating the distances listed in the text as well as the terrain of the traveled region, it seeks to account for the probable span one could cover on foot in the context of the described path.

In the text, the distance between stops is measured in farsakh, an ancient Persian unit of measurement equivalent to about 3.125 miles. Pulling from these estimates, the journey line along the top of the map represents the relative distance between each of the original locations.

Exact coordinates have not been identified for every stop. Locations for which coordinates have been identified are represented in blue. The concentric areas surrounding each known point on the map represent a cost-distance analysis of the terrain, visualizing the possible range one could travel on foot over the course of a single eight-hour day. This method of visualization was inspired by James Scott's walking-time map of Mung (Muang) Yang [6].

Due to lack of specificity, known regions, or probable regions for which specific point coordinates are unknown, are not represented here as identified stops.


According to Ahmad, "al-Fahraj is identified with modern Fahraj, about twenty miles north of Rigan in Kirman" [1].

Extrapolating from the distances described in the text, however, Fahraj as represented in a 1902 issue of The Geographical Journal [7] serves as a more likely starting point for the journey, due to its proximity to the estimated location of Basurjan.


"Al-Ta̅bra̅n stands for al-Tu̅ra̅n, the region around Khuzdar in the eastern parts of the Kalat state, Baluchistan" [1].


Ahmad lists Basurjan as "perhaps Rega̅n", positioned at about 75 miles away from Fahraj [1]. This is odd, considering the two cities are reported to be much closer to one another.

According to an 1896 issue of The Geographical Journal, " all probability, occupied the site of the present Sarbaz" [4], which lies about 215 miles away. The location is therefore questionable, but is represented here as Sarbaz.


"Al-Kharu̅n...was the first town of the district of Mukran. It was a district of which the town was Ra̅sk" [1]. Modern-day Ra̅sk is roughly 30 miles away from Basurjan, which fits well within the extrapolated range from modern-day Sarbaz.


Hadha̅r is not identified [1].


Madar is not identified [1].


Mu̅sa̅ra is not identified [1].

Dirak Ba̅mwayh

The location of Dirak Ba̅mwayh is not known, though its identification "has been suggested with Yakmina, Lat. 280 N., Long. 610 E" [1].


Tajin is not identified [1].

Jabal-al-Ma̅lihBa̅mpusht Ko̅h

"Jabal-al-Ma̅lih is the Ba̅mpusht Ko̅h" [1]. The particular peak to which the text refers is unknown.

Ba̅mpusht Ko̅h is "[a] considerable range of hills in Persian Baluchistan, either within, or forming the southern boundary of the district of the same name" [5][2].


Al-Nakhl is not identified [1].


Qalama̅n is not identified [1].


"Fannazbu̅r is recognized as Panjgur" [1]. Its location on this map is further informed by the map of southern Pakistan found in Warwick Ball's "The Buddhists of Sind" [3].


His is not identified [1].


"Qanda̅bil is Gandawa, seventy-five miles north-west of Khuzdar" [1]. Its location is further informed by the map of southern Pakistan found in Warwick Ball's "The Buddhists of Sind" [3].


Though its exact location is unknown, al-Jitha̅ "should lie in the region of Sakan Kalat, north-east of Panjgur, or beyond it to the north" [1].


"Quzda̅r is Khuzdar, eighty-five miles south of Kalat" [1]. Its location on this map is further informed by the map of southern Pakistan found in Warwick Ball's "The Buddhists of Sind" [3].


"Al-Jaur is not identified, but it may stand for Jhau, west of Bela on the river Nal" [1].


"The correct reading of this name seems to be Sadu̅sta̅n/Sadu̅sa̅n (Saindhu-sthan). It lay to the west of Manja̅bri, probably between Sahwan and the Indus" [1].

al-Mansu̅raBrahmanabad in Sindh

Usually fixed at Brahmanabad, "Al-Mansu̅ra was the Arab capital of Sind. Its ruins...lie at the famous hillock of Dalaur, eight miles southeast of Shadadpur and near, and to the east of the river Jamrau" [1]. Its location on this map is further informed by the map of southern Pakistan found in Warwick Ball's "The Buddhists of Sind" [3].


  1. Ahmad, S. Maqbul. Arabic Classical Accounts of India and China. Indian Institute of Advanced Study, 1989.
  2. Asia Minor and Persia [map]. 1895. "The Times atlas." David Rumsey Historical Map Collection. London: Printing House Square, 1895. Accessed 8 June 2015.
  3. Ball, Warwick. "The Buddhists of Sind." South Asian Studies, Vol. 5, No. 1 (1989).
  4. Haig, M.R. "Makran." The Geographical Journal, Vol. 8 (1986): 524-525.
  5. Quarter Master General's Dept. Intelligence Branch. Gazetteer of Persia, Volume 4. India: Office of the Superintendent of Government Printing, 1892.
  6. Scott, James C. The art of not being governed: An anarchist history of upland Southeast Asia. Yale University Press, 2014.
  7. Sykes, Molesworth P. "A Fourth Journey in Persia, 1897-1901." The Geographical Journal, Vol. 19, No. 2 (1902): 121-169.