Merchants at all times served as an excellent source of information. Therefore, some of the bottom were scouts or rather even spies. collecting information during their travels, making geographical maps, putting on them important information. Such as mountain passes, roads, customs posts, bridges, ferries, the location of mountain fortresses and mineral deposits, water sources, mines.
Over time, such merchants collected data on ethnography, etymology, culture, traditions and rituals.
They built their intelligence networks throughout the journey. Their residence was located in shopping centers, namely, caravanserais. From India to Kashgar, from Yarkand to Tobolsk. And often the merchants, already from the 17th century, living in the Eastern principalities, already worked on the Empire. It was not a betrayal of national interests; it was just a business.
That was how long-lasting contacts began to form, first the merchants, then their clans with the imperial intelligence organizations.
About such merchants tells in his novel "KIM" Kipling. British scouts in the face of Bengali merchants came to the territory of Asiatic Russia, namely to the Emirate of Bukhara, merchants from Bulgaria applauded to India and Afghanistan under the protectorate of the British Empire.
At the same time, beginning in 1874, US military topographers were engaged in mapping the border areas of Asian Russia.
In the period from 1861 to 1930, foreign traders, travelers, writers, artists, photographers, scientists, merchants visited these territories ... not the fact that they were not scouts ....
For example, in 1940, a map of the Asian part of the Japanese Imperial Army — was issued ...
In general, when new lands appeared on a topographic map of empires, in the period of the 19th century, then literally, after some 30-40 years, these lands became new colonies.
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