Spices have been highly valued since at least the Bronze Age, with the so-called Spice Trade, spanning Asia to the Mediterranean, developing from the late centuries BC. By the first century AD, Roman society spent vast sums fuelling their demand for spices, importing black pepper from India and other exotics from further afield. Importing spices from the east was a daunting and dangerous task, whether by ship across the Indian Ocean, a perilous round journey of many months, or by caravan overland along the myriad routings of the Silk Road, or other trade routes. The search for spices in the 15th and 16th centuries led to Columbus' discovery of America (and the discovery of chilli in Cuba and Hispaniola); Vasco da Gama's proving of the route to India around the coast of Africa; and Magellan's discovery of the western route to the Spice Islands. This comprehensive book both reviews spices and their histories of uses, botanical descriptions and classifications, as well as delving into the trade routes and importance of spice through history in driving global events.
Ian Anderson is a professional geologist with a long-standing interest in history and archaeology, who has lived and travelled extensively in SE Asia for over 25 years. He has previously published papers in geology and an article on travel by light aircraft in Mexico, and lives immersed in a 'foodie' environment as his wife is a cordon bleu chef. He lives in Suffolk.
"Ian Anderson picks the spices that we buy regularly at our supermarket and takes us on a journey about how they arrived at our tables. It is a tale of kings and conquests and high-sea adventures. From the peppercorn found in the nostrils of the mummy of Rameses II to the cinnamon and spices used for the coronation of Richard III, these seeds, roots, and herbs, sourced in India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and other Asian countries travelled the world sought by Pharaohs and Kings. In their discovery lay the secrets of many Empires. A must-read for those interested in the history of spices."
– Shrabani Basu, author of Victoria and Abdul