Thursday, March 26, 2009

Passports then and now

For centuries, governments have issued passes of safe conduct to travelers. These passes came in various forms. Some were letters of confidence drawn on papurys signed by the Vizier (the Pharaoh’s right-hand man) or bearing the Pharaoh’s royal seal. Others came in the form of precious stone rings that were special only to the King or rings that bore the seal of the Kingdom.

The use of passports as compulsory documents of travel is a practice from the 20th century. Roman emperor Augustus was the first one who released a certificate of travel with these phrases: “If there be anyone on land or sea hardy enough to molest [the traveler], let him consider whether he be strong enough to wage war with Ceasar.”

Yup, that’s how precious and important passports were during the time of the Roman empire. Passports were designed to keep the traveler safe, even if he is in a different country.

Is this how you feel about your passport today?

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