The Silk Route
It would be difficult to imagine that Nutmeg was once worth more by weight than gold. In the 16th century, dock workers in London were paid Cloves as bonuses. There was a time when Spice trade was a booming industry, a quest to control it led to the discovery of new continents and laid the foundation for the modern world. The search for ingredients to make dishes more delicious has led to countless wars and endless bloodshed for many centuries. The Americas were discovered in a search for a short cut to Indian Spices.
Spices were once very tightly guarded and generated immense wealth for those who controlled them. The spice trade began in the Middle East over 4,000 years ago. Spice merchants from Arabia would create a sense of mystery by hiding the origins of their stock, and would ensure exorbitant prices by telling fancy tales about fighting off fierce winged creatures to reach spices growing high on cliff walls. Initially, the spice trade was conducted mostly by camel caravans over land routes. The Silk Road connected Asia with the Mediterranean world, including North Africa and Europe. Trade on the Silk Road led to the rise of great civilizations of Asia, Egypt, Persia, Arabia, and Rome. The Roman Empire set up a powerful trading post in Alexandria, Egypt in the first century BC and was in command of all of the spices entering Greece and Rome for many years.