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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