We’re talking about sodium chloride, or as it is more widely known, SALT. Salt is absolutely essential for human survival, the body needs it on a daily basis and without it we perish. It has been used to preserve food for many centuries and today we use it for seemingly everything from food production to treating our roadways in the winter. In Britain, places known to have salt in abundance and thereby suitable for habitation were given the suffix “wich” added to their name, as with Sandwich or Norwich. In the Bible, in Matthew 5:13, Jesus said that His people were “the salt of the earth”, meaning absolutely essential and that phrase has come to mean people who are dependable, hard-working and honest.
Have you ever heard the phrase “worth his or her salt”? That is because for thousands of years people have used salt as currency. As late as the 20th century it was still being used in Ethiopia for currency, which makes it as universally accepted as precious metals like gold and silver. It is one of the few things in the world which will always have value. In fact, the word that we use for how much money a person makes, their SALARY, is the Latin (SALARIUM) for the phrase, “SALT MONEY”. Rome paid all of its’ soldiers, officials and public servants with salt.
In China, salt was dried into large concave discs, hardened by fire and then stamped with the seal of the Emperor, and depending on where you were in the empire between 60 and 80 salt discs could be exchanged freely for a pouch of gold. In virtually every quarter of the globe examples can be found of salt circulating as money at some point in history. It is one of those commodities universally in demand. Following the inflationary chaos of the Bolshevik Revolution, salt was the main standard of value, medium of exchange, and store of value in Moscow. Some things hold their value even when all around has descended into chaos…like NaCl.
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