Salt has been an essential part of human life for centuries. It is used to enhance the flavor of food and preserve it for longer periods. But have you ever wondered how salt was made in ancient times?
The Origin of Salt
Salt was first discovered in salt mines or rock salt deposits. The earliest evidence of salt mining dates back to over 8,000 years ago in what is now Romania. In ancient times, people would extract salt from the sea or inland salt lakes.
Sea Salt Production
Sea salt was produced by evaporating seawater in shallow pools or pans. The sun and wind would naturally evaporate the water, leaving behind a layer of salt crystals. The process was repeated until enough salt had accumulated.
Harvesting Sea Salt
Once the salt had crystallized, it was harvested using wooden rakes and scoops. The harvesters would carefully scrape off the top layer of crystals and transfer them to baskets.
Packing and Transporting Sea Salt
After harvesting, the sea salt was packed into sacks made of animal skins or woven baskets. It was then transported using animals such as donkeys, camels or horses to inland areas where it was traded or used locally.
Inland Salt Production
Inland salt production involved extracting salt from underground deposits called brine wells. Brine wells were created by drilling a hole into the ground until groundwater with high salinity was reached.
Extracting Salt from Brine Wells
The brine water was pumped out from the well into large evaporating pans made of clay or metal. Fires were lit underneath the pans to heat up the water and speed up evaporation.
Harvesting Inland Salt
Once enough water had evaporated, leaving behind a layer of crystallized salt, the harvesters would carefully scrape off the top layer of crystals and transfer them to baskets.
Packing and Transporting Inland Salt
After harvesting, the inland salt was packed into sacks made of animal skins or woven baskets.
Salt production in ancient times was a laborious process that required skilled workers and careful management. But despite the challenges, salt remained an essential commodity that fueled trade and commerce across the ancient world. Today, we can enjoy the benefits of salt without having to go through the same arduous process as our ancestors did.