- The history of salt traces back to as far as 6050 BC. Salt was used as part of religious offerings and to preserve mummies in Egypt. It was a valuable good traded between the Phoenicians and their Mediterranean empire.
- The earliest known study on pharmacology published in China around 2700 BC mentions more than 40 types of salt and provides descriptions of two methods of salt extraction that are similar to the processes used today.
- Medieval European records document salt making concessions. In continental Europe, Venice rose to economic greatness through its salt monopoly. The production and the transport of salt gave rise to new cities and to the construction of roads as is the case of Salzburg—"city of salt"—and of the via Salaria (the road of salt) in Italy. The medieval pavement of one of the transportation routes for salt still exists in Germany where it links the inland city of Lüneburg to the German Baltic coast.
Did you know that the word “salary” derives from the Latin “sal(t)”? In Roman times, salt was such a valuable commodity that army soldiers were sometimes paid with salt instead of money.
- The grand designs of Philip II of Spain came undone through the Dutch Revolt at the end of the 16th century. According to Montesquieu, the successful Dutch blockade of Iberian salt works, which led directly to Spanish bankruptcy, played a key role.
- France has always been a major producer of salt and the “gabelle”- the tax on salt – often came in discussion. This tax was actually one of the main reasons for the outbreak of the French revolution.
- Salt also had military significance. For instance, it is recorded that thousands of Napoleon's troops died during his retreat from Moscow because their wounds would not heal due to the lack of salt. In 1777, the British Lord Howe was jubilant when he succeeded in capturing General Washington's salt supply.
- Salt has played a vital part in religious ritual in many cultures, symbolising purity. There are more than 30 references to salt in the Bible, including the well-known expression "salt of the earth". In many cultures, offering bread and salt to visitors is traditional etiquette.
- In old Japanese theatres, salt was sprinkled on the stage before each performance to prevent evil spirits from casting a spell on the actors. In spiritual and religious practices salt is still used as a purifier, for instance before Sumo matches.
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY FACTS