In today’s time, good roads mean better means of travel through which people can connect with others. In the past, however, better roads meant domination; for with the help of better means of laid out tracks, could armies and messengers travel across miles to reach their destinations. Amongst those who were considered to be the masters of the building craft of roads were none other than the Persians. One big name amongst them was Darius the Great. By constructing rock roads, Darius and his predecessor kept their lands connected. With a means of efficient travelling through roads, swift movement of armies, transport of goods, along with messengers easily able to communicate their messages over long distances, Darius kept his empire well connected. One iconic project of Darius which kept the capital of the Persian Empire in Susa to the tumultuous region of Asia Minor in a loop was a highway that is deeply rooted in history. Running across 2,500 kilometres, the Royal Road was completed in 500 BCE. This very virtual highway linked Sardis to Cappadocia and Cilicia, passing through Armenia and down to Arbela; crossing River Tigris, it paved way for Susa. In Asia Minor rebellions were common and the Royal Road served its part quite often than not by helping troops to reach the place of unrest quickly. It was through this very road that helped the Persian force to attack Greece. Messengers also known as ‘chapars’ could convey messages within seven to 14 days travelling to Susa from Sardis. Along this route were stations – about 111 in number – which had relay messengers. These would take the message from one messenger and pass it on to the other when the need arose for the King to be informed in a short span of time. Normally it would take about 90 days for the message to reach Susa from Sardis, if there were no stations and the message was being conveyed by a non-stop messenger. Traders had booming profits because of the Royal Road for they could take their goods to the west where there was an increasing demand for textile. The merchants who were travelling to the east, instilled new ideas in the minds of Persians along with goods like wheat and olive oil. It is this very road which later would become a part of the Silk Road. This monument of the Persian Empire had guard posts with regular patrolling carried out to eliminate chances of bandits creating any form of turmoil for the travellers. There were bridges across the route as well which were heavily laced by soldiers. If bridges were to be captured or destroyed by rebels or an invading army, displacement of troops could be delayed, allowing the enemy to move quickly to counter the Persians’ advance. Long after the demise of the Persian glorious era, the importance of the road lived through in the shape of the Silk Road.
In an era when the state did not issue coins, wealthy merchants and affluent members of the society issued coin-like badges. With many historians debating over the first official coin, most experts agree on the Lydian one-third stater or trite that was minted by King Alyattes in Lydia, Asia Minor, now Turkey. With a lion’s head on side of the electrum coin, the other side of has a double-square incuse punch which was created by a hammer during its minting. Electrum, an alloy of silver and gold was known as ‘white gold’ in the ancient times and was used for trading. The punch mark is an imprint from the hammer used to force the coin onto the die that shapes the front, and it was also thought to show purity. The usage of the coin then spread to ancient Greece from where it travelled the rest of the western world. Minted between 660 and 600 BC the Lydian one-third stater is not a rare item, however other denominations do exist that are rare which have different variations on the lion images, punches, and weight, including the Lydian stater (14 grams), sixth stater (2.35 grams), and twelfth stater (1.18 grams).
It was in Skopje where Mother Teresa first opened her eyes in 1910. From a young age only she liked helping the poor and wanted to be a nun. With not much known about her early years, she left her hometown to join a group of nuns in Ireland when she was 18. After having received training with the Sisters of Loreto, Mother Teresa left for India. She took her formal religious vows in 1931 and opted to be named after the patron saint of missionaries – St. Thérèse of Lisieux. Once in India, she started working as a teacher where the extreme levels of poverty had a huge impact on her. To fight it, she started ‘The Missionaries of Charity’ whose purpose was to serve who were in need. Deeply following the teachings of Jesus Christ, she wanted to serve all those who were left unattended. The Bengal famine of 1943 and the outbreak of Muslim/Hindu violence before partition, Mother Teresa went through a period of extreme pain and misery while living in Calcutta. It was in 1948 that she left the convent and decided to live with the poor. The dress with which she can be now pictured is a white sari with blue trimmings – she chose to wear the Indian dress. With a meager income and mostly with little food to live on, Mother Teresa along with other nuns survived for a number of years. But her undeterred nature and selfless ways made her noticeable amongst the local community and later Indian politicians. It was in 1952 that she opened a home for the dying where the final rites were carried out according to each one’s faith. With numerous branches of The Missionaries of Charity across the globe, the society serves all those who are homeless and individuals who are suffering from AIDS. After Malcolm Muggeridge wrote a book and produced a documentary called Something Beautiful for God; this brought wider attention to Mother Teresa and she was started to be recognised the world over. Now a saint, it was in 1979 that Mother Teresa was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize “for work undertaken in the struggle to overcome poverty and distress, which also constitutes a threat to peace.”