Monday, May 27, 2013

The Salt Mines Of Ethiopia

Mining Africa


Hot Salt: NatGeo’s Katia Andreassi writes: “Northern Ethiopia’s Afar Depression—also called the Danakil Depression—is one of the hottest places on Earth. Parts of the region are more than 300 feet below sea level, forming a cauldron where temperatures reach above 120 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer and active volcanoes roil.”
Photo Credit: Siegfried Modola; Reuters
Source: NatGeo
Salt is a common ingredient in food, but also a valuable one that has a long history in food preservation and in taste. Without salt, many fine chefs would be lost. An article in National Geographic looks at one region where salt has had a long and colourful history—Ethiopia.

Andreassi  writes:
The colorful and extreme Afar is also home to a valuable commodity: salt. For centuries the Afar people have mined rich salt deposits left behind from Red Sea floods in the region—most recently, 30,000 years ago. Today, workers cut slabs of salt from the earth and pack them on to camels for a days-long journey across the desert to a market town where the slabs are sold to merchants and loaded on to trucks. (Read more about the Afar people and the salt trade.)
The production and use of salt dates to 6050 BCE; and since then it has varied uses, from its use as currency to its use for religious rituals as a method of purification. One site dedicated to the production of salt says:
The word “salary” was derived from the word “salt.” Salt was highly valued and its production was legally restricted in ancient times, so it was historically used as a method of trade and currency. The word “salad” also originated from “salt,” and began with the early Romans salting their leafy greens and vegetables. Undeniably, the history of salt is both broad ranging and unique, leaving its indelible mark in cultures across the globe.
[…]

Salt has played a vital part in religious ritual in many cultures, symbolizing immutable, incorruptible purity. There are more than 30 references to salt in the Bible, using expressions like "salt of the earth." And there are many other literary and religious references to salt, including use of salt on altars representing purity, and use of "holy salt" by the Unification Church.
You might take all this with a grain of salt, but I wouldn’t.

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You can read the rest of the article, including seeing more photos, at [NatGeo]