Visit the  Salt Institute  for more information about salt.

Salt's Role in History

Our early ancestors recognized salt’s importance to both human and animal diets. While salt is extremely abundant, ancient civilizations had limited means of obtaining it. Because of this, salt was highly prized and often used like money.
In early civilizations, salt had great symbolic value. Because of its acknowledged power to purify and preserve, in some cultures a signed contract had salt poured on it as a guarantee of good faith. Among the Greeks and Turks, eating salt with a stranger was a token of friendship. And urns filled with salt were often placed in Egyptian pyramids so the dead had salt to use after they reached the Underworld.
Ancient Rome depended upon salt to maintain its power. Roman soldiers were paid in salt, or "salarium," which over time became the word "salary." A good soldier was "worth his salt," a phrase we still use today. One of the most famous military roads in history, the Via Salaria ("Salt Road"), was originally built to connect the salt works in Ostia to the city of Rome. Emperors also freely handed out salt to their citizens when they needed the public’s support for war.