Caravm And Caravansary, an organized company of travellers or pilgrims in Asia and Africa, and an edifice for their lodging. The word is derived from the Persian carvan, a trader. Caravans are formed for the purpose of mutual protection. Every caravan is under the command of a chief (caravan-bashi), and is subjected to regular discipline. Many of them are under control of the government, by whom the chief is appointed, and are attended by a sufficient number of troops for defence. Camels are used as a means of conveyance on account of their remarkable powers of endurance, and there are generally more camels than persons in a caravan. The commercial intercourse of Asia and Africa from the earliest period has been carried on chiefly in this way; and in this country the trade between Kansas and New Mexico is conducted by caravans of wagons. The most noted caravans are those of pilgrims who annually proceed to Mecca from every country where the Mohammedan faith is established.

The principal caravans are those of Damascus, composed of pilgrims from Europe and western Asia, and Cairo, consisting of Mohammedans from all parts of Africa. The Syrian caravan is accompanied by one of the military pashas of Damascus or one of his principal officers, and usually travels by night only, when torches are used. An important commerce in all kinds of Indian, Arabian, and Persian commodities is carried on by means of caravans which proceed from Bagdad and Bassorah to Aleppo, Damascus, and Diarbekir; while European goods, chiefly English cottons, are distributed throughout the interior of Asiatic Turkey by the same means. Formerly a caravan consisted of from 500 to 4,000 persons, and an equal or greater number of camels; but many of them, especially those to Mecca, are now much smaller and of less importance, owing to the improved means of modern travel. - The caravansaries for pilgrims, now better known by the Turks and Arabs as khans, for the most part built as charities, are generally the rudest structures consistent with the purpose of protection. They are chiefly erected in desert places, and are furnished with water brought from a great distance.

The caravansaries in cities, intended more for traders, are better built, and sometimes contain very good apartments, though unfurnished.