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can I use the word "early" referring to "old"?

for example :

the early means of travelling were hard.

what I mean here is that the means of travelling in past were hard.

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Sort of.

'Early' in this context means 'the oldest', rather than just 'old'.

You could say that early mobile phones were very large, you could also say some old mobile phones have touch screens, but you could not say some early mobile phones had touch screens, as touch screen mobiles phones are too late to be early.

The early means of travelling were hard.

would refer to just walking, and possibly horse, or ox driven carts and the like, it would not refer to steam trains, or even hansom cabs (19th century horse-drawn vehicle).

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