For such is the complexity of causation in human affairs
and such is the distance of time, the specialist needs to be taken with a pinch of
Yet a central question remains, even after all the allowances are made for
single-minded analysis; why has the history of mankind tended to ignore the importance
of salt, the salt trade and the alkali industry in general? No doubt there are several
reasons. One at least, is that it is only in relatively recent years that historians have
regarded trade generally as the property object of their study. For many
history is that of politics largely divorced from economic and commercial considerations.
Moreover, they have traditionally paid little regard to the importance of physical changes
in climate and geography.
It is also important to appreciate how much the nature
of archaeological evidence colours our view of the past. Because of their ubiquity,
pottery and grave stone inscriptions are very well understood and recognised. But by their
nature alkali salts are easily dissolved and are difficult to trace in ancient ruins.
Perhaps such traditional views tend to mirror the ideas
of contemporary commentators who write about what they consider remarkable rather than
recording the commonplace which they take for granted.
On the other hand, governments
have tried to hide the importance and function of certain chemicals in particular saltpetre,
as an essential constituent of gunpowder. Salt and tobacco remain innocent
SALT at egroup DISCUSS
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