Salt was so important throughout human history that the word ‘salary’ derives from the Latin word salārium, referring to money given to soldiers so they could buy salt
Solnitsata, the earliest known town in Europe was built around a salt production facility. Located in present-day Bulgaria, archaeologists believe the town accumulated wealth by supplying salt throughout the Balkans. Aside from being a contributing factor in the development of civilization, it was also used in the military practice of salting the earth by various peoples, beginning with the Assyrians.It is commonly believed that Roman soldiers were at certain times paid with salt. (They say the soldiers who did their job well were “worth their salt.”) The word ‘salary’ derives from the Latin word salārium, possibly referring to money given to soldiers so they could buy it. The Roman Republic and Empire controlled the price of salt, increasing it to raise money for wars, or lowering it to be sure that the poorest citizens could easily afford this important part of the diet.Vertical derricks and drilling rig from Qing dynasty Zigong, China extracting brine from deep underground wells.It was also of high value to the Hebrews, Greeks, the Chinese, Hittites and other peoples of antiquity.Already in the early years of the Roman Republic, with the growth of the city of Rome, roads were built to make transportation of salt to the capital city easier. An example was the Via Salaria (originally a Sabine trail), leading from Rome to the Adriatic Sea. The Adriatic Sea, having a higher salinity due to its shallow depth, had more productive solar ponds compared with those of the Tyrrhenian Sea, much closer to Rome.During the late Roman Empire and throughout the Middle Ages salt was a precious commodity carried along the salt roads into the heartland of the Germanic tribes. Caravans consisting of as many as forty thousand camels traversed four hundred miles of the Saharabearing salt to inland markets in the Sahel, sometimes trading salt for slaves: Timbuktu was a huge salt and slave market.