Salt in Ancient Egypt



Egyptian Name:

Hmat or Spr



Salt came in two varieties: northern sea salt and red salt, quarried from the Siwa Oasis or Nile Delta. Salt was sometimes brought to Egypt as a tribute from Libya and Ethiopia. Because of its connection to the evil Set, sea salt was not consumed but it was used in metal smelting, gold refining, and glass making. Red salt was considered pure and was highly prized for the table, used to flavor food and preserve meat. Medically, salt was used to cure burns, and a mixture of salt and honey was supposed to hasten delivery of a baby. A religious taboo forbid priests to eat salted bread. On the stela of Ramses II, the pharaoh states: "Lower Egypt rowed to Upper Egypt for you, with barley, wheat, salt, and beans without number." Salt was a royal monopoly during the Roman and Ptolemaic periods.



Seasonings and Spices

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