Salt and Spice Salt and Spice By Jianing, 5th Grader Think about all those spices you use. Turmeric, cardamom, cinnamon, peppercorns, salt, and so forth. Surely you know how, when some are mixed in certain combinations with different ingredients, they can make your food a lot better, but do you know the history of these spices? These spices have dragged a long trail throughout our history. They have helped some empires and kingdoms rise to power and helped establish many trade routes. Some kingdoms and empires have other uses for these spices, like as currency, or something to help preserve some corpses, or as crowns, even. Spices have proved very useful in history. There are many ways the ancient people used different spices. One example is salt. While it may currently flavor our fries and omelets and not much more, and it’s not technically a spice, it was still really useful. One example is when is that it was the form of currency back then. Literally. People would pay ancient Romans with blocks of salt. It was also one of the many ways they gained power, but more on that later. Cinnamon is another example. The ancient Egyptians would encase the deceased within tombs. Within these tombs were many spices, including cinnamon. This was because the Egyptians believed the spices would help preserve the bodies after their deaths. The ancient Egyptians also believe that onions and garlic would give workers strength. One final example is bay and myrtle. They wove these spices into crowns, which were given as an award for winning the ancient Olympics. Some old Roman and Greek scientists like Hippocrates, Gale, and Pliny, thought these spices had medical purposes. Recent studies show that these old ones may have been onto something. Apparently, there is a current experiment that is testing if they can make spices into cures for some diseases. These spices are also used to affect trade. Almost all spices originated from Asia, so demand for spices in other parts of the world was increased. This led to many uncomfortable rides on roads to complete silk trades. One of these famous roads was called the Silk Road, which connected a lot of kingdoms and empires, and allowed people to share ideas, inventions, culture, spices and, of course, silk. Many great civilizations had sprung up from the very road. One time, when Rome affected trade, it had ended them up as one of the most powerful civilizations. They had set up a trade center in Alexandria, Egypt, so they forced all spices traveling along the road to go through this center. The Romans had controlled the trade, and it had made them powerful. These spices have also helped many civilizations to rise and gain lots of power. For example, Romans set up villages alongside coasts, so they had free access to lots of salt. These villages had given Rome a lot of power. In lots of wars, the opponents had even tried to keep spices away from each other. Spices back then were extremely expensive, too. Once, Roman emperor Nero lost his wife, and burned a whole year’s supply of cinnamon to show how much he grieved for her. An enormous waste of what could’ve made him rich, but he did it anyway. However, there used to be a big battle over who would get to be the spice powerhouse. It turns out, Italy won, but they forced people to pay huge taxes. Lots of people, including Christopher Columbus as some of you might know, set out to find a better trade route. They did, and soon, lots of people went out to get spices, as now it was easier. However, these spices probably made them mad with power, because afterwards there was a war. People fought over control. However, eventually things calmed down, and now, along with some more recent inventions, spices are easily accessible to all. So, spices used to rule the world, as shown above. Spices used to be powerful. They used to hold the universe in their… not palms, well… and bend the fate of everyone. Those days, while long gone, might have had something to it, though. After all, spices are really important!