Australian researchers have discovered a 17th-century postal system made of dozens of stone inscriptions on the island of Madagascar.
Carved between 1601 and 1657 by sailors aboard Dutch East India Company ships on their way to the East Indies, the stones often featured letters placed at their base. The missives, carefully wrapped in layers of canvas, tar and lead envelopes, were left for other ships to pick up.
“The idea was that the crew of the next Dutch ship to anchor in that same place would pen down the message on the rock and collect the letters,” Wendy van Duivenvoorde, a lecturer in maritime archaeology at Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia, told Discovery News.
“Basically it was like an early postal system,” she said. Read more.