Where it was rare, salt was traded ounce for ounce for gold, brides or
slaves. Salt and salt rich clays were the first mineral food supplement consciously
used by man, most probably since the dawn of time. The Roman statesman Cassiodorus
was quite observant when he said, "Some seek not gold,but there lives not
a man who does not need salt. "
Rome's major highway was called the Via Salacia (salt road) - soldiers
used it to carry salt up from the Tiber River where barges brought salt from
the salt pans of Ostia. Soldiers worth their salt were paid a "salary" - the
word salary is derived from salarium, money paid to soldiers to pay for their
ration of salt.
Salt coins and discs were reported in Cathay by Marco Polo. Salt
discs in Ethiopia ere "salted away" in the kings treasury. The production
of salt as a food supplement for man and beast is as old as civilization itself.
Salt was produced in shallow ponds of sea water through evaporation and
by mining rock salt from large land locked deposits. The Hallstatt salt mine
is one of the oldest commercial salt businesses on Earth - it is located 50
miles from Salzburg (Salt Town) salt has been mined from the Hallstatt mine
since the early Iron Age.
Salzberg (Salt Mountain) contains a salt deposit 2,000
feet wide 2,500 feet deep - today there are 25 miles of galleries created
by the centuries of salt mining. The salt from the Hallstatt Mine was exported
and traded to the Celtics.
Salt was also an important force in the African slave trade as captured
children from warring tribes were sold into slavery in exchange for salt.
In other parts of salt poor Africa humans developed the practice of drinking
cattle blood or urine to obtain salt. The residents of the Sierra Leone coast
gave all they possessed, including their wives and children in exchange for
salt because salt is an absolute requirement for life and because salt is
not equally distributed on Earth and coveted by the have-nots, It is said
by African tribesman," He who has salt has war."
There was also the interesting fact that in the old criminal law of Holland,
a particularly terrible and much feared punishment was to restrict criminals
to a diet of bread and water without salt!!!
Salt is known as the universal and most widely used food supplement and
condiment. So great is the human craving for salt, and the relish of it that
we are led to consider that a love of it is one of the most dominating of
our natural instincts and that salt itself is in fact necessary to the health
and even the life of man.
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