Homer called salt a divine substance. Plato described it as especially dear to the gods. As Mark Kurlansky relates in his history of this essential mineral, salt has shaped civilization from the beginning, and its story is a glittering, often surprising part of the history of humankind. So valuable that it has often served as currency (and still does in places today), salt inspired the earliest trade routes across unknown oceans and remote deserts.
Salt is veined by lodes as disparate as engineering, religion, and food, all of which Kurlansky richly mines. Salt revenues have funded some of the greatest public works in history, while salt’s ability to sustain life has made it a metaphorical symbol in all religions. And of course, salt has shaped eating habits and culture the world over.
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