Article 26 – History Of Spice

by / Saturday, 25 August 2018 / Published in Intact Corner

Every dish in a recipe book starts with a sweet fragrance of spices . Not many, but only few know the value this ingredient . We commonly know its location as a kitchen .But never think where it comes or how we started using it ?

Spices have been used for medical purposes and to add flavor food since before the written word. In the early ages hunters and gatherers wrapped meat in the leaves of bushes, and accidentally discovered that this process enhanced the taste of meat, as did certain nuts  seeds, berries and barks .Over years spices were used for medical purposes. Spices and herbs were also used  as a way to mask unpleasant taste and odors of food , and later, to keep the food fresh.

Spices were not only in the field of food, they slowly became as items of exchange and trade. For example :the Bible mentions that in 1000 BC , Queen Sheba visited King Solomon in Jerusalem and offered him 120 measures of gold , many spices and precious stones .



Ancient cuneiform record noted spices and herb use in Mesopomia in the fertile Tigris and Euphrates valleys, where many aromatic plants were known . Sumerian clay tablets of medical literature dating from 3rd millennium BC mention various odoriferous plants , including including thyme . A scroll of cuneiforms writing, established by King Ashurbanipal of Assyria (668-633 BC )


Ancient Greeks and Romans imported Eastern spices (pepper, cassia, cinimum, and ginger ) to the Mediterranean area ; they also consumed many herbs produced in neibouring countries, Examples including caraway and poppy seeds for bread ,fennel for vinegar sauces, coriander as a condiment in food and wine , and mint as a flavoring in meat sauces.


India has been using spices for thousands of years for both culinary and health purposes. Spices indigenous to India were cultivated as early as the 8th century BC in the gardens of Babylon(Sinha, 2003; Tapsell 2006).


  • Susruta an ancient surgeon ( around 4th century BC) used mustard and other aromatic plants in bed sheets to ward off malignant sprits. He also applied a poultice from sesame to post operation wounds which may have acted as an antiseptic.
  • Medical writings of writing of Charaka (1st century) and Susruta ll(2nd century) referenced spices and herbs .Suruta ll also used spices and herbs such as cinnamon , cardamom , ginger, and black pepper for heeling purposes.
  • In Ayurvadic medicine ,spices such as clove and cardmom were wrapped in betel-nut leaves and chewed after meals to increase the flow of saliva and aid digestion.
  • We can still see the use of spices as medicine as well as an ingredient which is used to flavor food.

Till date is demand has never decreased ……




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