The Spice Route
The Spice Route
This chapter traces the history of spices and how they have been linked with currency and commerce. Spices, specifically peppercorns, were traded for several decades in the United States commodities markets and continue to trade actively in India today. Without spices, there might not be a financial marketplace in the United States because the pursuit of pungent spices led to the “discovery” of America. The real value of spices in Roman times lies in prestige. Exotic fragrances and flavors announced themselves as luxuries and advertised a consumer's extravagance. Commodity exchanges as we know them today have their roots in this time period. The fairs and marketplaces that sprang up in the Middle Ages were the descendants of the Greek markets and the markets of Rome, which specialized in distributing specific commodities (spices included). Spices were still highly valued during the Middle Ages—long after the fall of the Roman Empire. This chapter also looks at the history of black pepper futures markets and provides an overview of India's spice markets.
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