Salt in ancient history
“Civilization” led to technological advances in salt-making.
Ancient documents record a central role for salt in both East and West. Some 2,700 years B.C. -- about 4,700 years ago -- there was published in China the Peng-Tzao-Kan-Mu, the earliest known treatise on pharmacology. A major portion of this writing was devoted to a discussion of more than 40 kinds of salt, including descriptions of two methods of extracting salt and putting it in usable form that are amazingly similar to processes used today.
Nomads spreading westward were known to carry salt. Egyptian art from 1450 B.C. records salt-making.
Likewise, ancient saltmaking in Europe and North America is well documented. Salt was of crucial importance economically.
A far-flung trade in ancient Greece involving exchange of salt for slaves gave rise to the expression, "not worth his salt."
The Romans were prodigious builders of saltworks as well as other vital infrastructure (for example, in Poland and England). Special salt rations given early Roman soldiers were known as "salarium argentum," the forerunner of the English word "salary." References to salt abound in languages around the globe, particularly regarding salt used for food. From the Latin "sal," for example, comes such other derived words as "sauce" and "sausage."