20–24 August 2015
Al. I. Cuza” University of Iași
Programme and Abstracts
Ștefan Caliniuc, Mihaela Asăndulesei,
Roxana-Gabriela Curcă, Marius-Tiberiu Alexianu
First International Congress on the Anthropology of Salt
20–24 August 2015
“Al. I. Cuza” University of Iași
Programme and Abstracts
Ștefan Caliniuc, Mihaela Asăndulesei,
Roxana-Gabriela Curcă, Marius-Tiberiu Alexianu
Primăria orașului Târgu Ocna
Merlinʼs Vitamin Aqua
DAAD AC Alumni Club Iași
This volume was prepared in the framework of the research project ‘The ethno-archaeology of the salt springs
and salt mountains from the extra-Carpathian areas of Romania’ (code PN-II-ID-PCE-2011-3-0825 no.
219/5.10.2011), financed by the National Research Council (CNCS), 2011–2015, Romania.
W: http://ethnosalro.uaic.ro / E: firstname.lastname@example.org
Edited by: Ștefan Caliniuc, Mihaela Asăndulesei, Roxana-Gabriela Curcă, Marius-Tiberiu Alexianu
© The editors and the individual authors 2015.
FIRST INTERNATIONAL CONGRESS ON THE ANTHROPOLOGY OF SALT
Ashley A. DUMAS
Elisa GUERRA DOCE
Table of Contents
Programme ............................................................................................................................... 9
Abstracts ................................................................................................................................. 17
Plenary session ................................................................................................................ 17
I. Anthropology and Archaeology ................................................................................... 33
II. History ......................................................................................................................... 66
III. Halotherapy ................................................................................................................ 74
IV. Heritage ...................................................................................................................... 78
V. Literary and Linguistic Approaches ............................................................................. 94
Affiliation ................................................................................................................................ 99
FIRST INTERNATIONAL CONGRESS ON THE ANTHROPOLOGY OF SALT, 20–24 AUGUST 2015, “AL. I. CUZA” UNIVERSITY OF IAȘI, ROMANIA
FIRST INTERNATIONAL CONGRESS ON THE ANTHROPOLOGY OF SALT
20–24 August 2015, “Al. I. Cuza” University of Iași, Romania
Prof. Dr Rev. Gheorghe POPA
Vice-rector for Institutional Development, “Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University of Iași
Prof. Dr Tudor LUCHIAN
Director of the Interdisciplinary Research Department – Field Science, ”Alexandru Ioan Cuza”
University of Iași
Prof. Dr Gheorghe POPA
Former Rector of the “Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University of Iași
Prof. Dr Alexander RUBEL
Director of the Institute of Archaeology Iași
9.30–14.15 PLENARY SESSION
Chairmen: Roxana-Gabriela Curcă, Olivier Weller, Valeriu Cavruc, Marius-Tiberiu Alexianu
Marius-Tiberiu Alexianu, Anthropology of Salt: Challenges of a New Discipline
Marius-Tiberiu Alexianu, Olivier Weller, Ion Sandu, Gheorghe Romanescu, Robin Brigand, Roxana-Gabriela Curcă,
Vasile Cotiugă, Felix Tencariu, Andrei Asăndulesei, Ștefan Caliniuc, Radu-Ștefan Balaur, Mihaela Asăndulesei,
EthnosalRo Project. Work in Progress
Ashley A. Dumas, Recent Archaeology of Salt in the Eastern United States
Shuicheng Li, Archaeology of Salt Production in the Three Gorges Region: Focus on the Zhongba Site
Olivier Weller, First Salt Making in Europe: an Overview from Neolithic Times
Takamune Kawashima, Archaeology and Ethnology of Salt in Japan
Blas Castellón, Anthropology of Salt in Mexico in the Past 10 Years. An Overview
FIRST INTERNATIONAL CONGRESS ON THE ANTHROPOLOGY OF SALT, 20–24 AUGUST 2015, “AL. I. CUZA” UNIVERSITY OF IAȘI, ROMANIA
Anthony Harding, ‘Salt in Prehistoric Europe’: the Challenges and Perspectives of a General Book on Ancient Salt
Dulam Sendenjav, Usage, Therapy and Magical Cure of Salt among Mongolian Ethnic Groups
Jayaram Gollapudi, Depressed Classes of Madigas and its Culture Reflects in Using of Salt in Tanning and
Traditional Buried the Body in South India
Felix Tencariu, Marius-Tiberiu Alexianu, Vasile Cotiugă, Viorica Vasilache, Ion Sandu, Clay, Fire and Salt.
Experimental Approaches on the Prehistoric Briquetage Technique
Valeriu Cavruc, The Archaeological Evidence for Salt Production in Romania
I. ANTHROPOLOGY AND ARCHAEOLOGY (Part 1)
Chairmen: Ashley A. Dumas, Takamune Kawashima, Blas Castellón,
Olivier Weller, Wes Forsythe, Martin Hees
Michele Zuppi, Andrea Zuppi, Paolo Zuppi, Elisabetta Rossi, “Cum grano salis” — a Model of Man's Complexity
Andrea Zuppi, Michele Zuppi, Paolo Zuppi, Elisabetta Rossi, “Sapientia” and Salt
Ralph M. Rowlett, The Role of Salt in the Fame and Prosperity of Ancient Pompeii
Tasha Vasiliki Athena Maroulis, An Insight into the Use of Salt in the Aboriginal Culture in Australia
Francesca Lugli, The Use of Salt in Mongolia. An Example of Mogod Region (Bulgan Aimag)
Henry Kam Kah, Salt, History and Culture among the Western Grasslanders of Cameroon
P-J Ezeh, Unity of Sacred and Profane in Traditional Salt Industry of the Okposi Igbo of South-Eastern Nigeria
Ioan Cojocariu, Two Examples of Unusual Uses of Salt in Romania
Ralph M. Rowlett, Salt and Shell-tempered Pottery in European Prehistory
Vassil Nikolov, Formation of the Prehistoric Urban Centre Provadia-Solnitsata
Gheorghe Dumitroaia, Archaeological Research in the Salt Springs Area of Lunca and Oglinzi (Neamț County,
Alfons Fíguls, Olivier Weller, Thomas Xaver Schuhmacher, Mireia Martínez, Raül Segarra, Ainhoa Pancorbo, Rosa
M. Lanaspa, Marc Cots, Aitor Henestrosa, The Vall Salina: More than 6500 Years of Halite Exploitation. Cardona,
the Salt of History
FIRST INTERNATIONAL CONGRESS ON THE ANTHROPOLOGY OF SALT, 20–24 AUGUST 2015, “AL. I. CUZA” UNIVERSITY OF IAȘI, ROMANIA
Gheorghe Dumitroaia, Vasile Diaconu, Ciprian-Dorin Nicola, Briquetage in Cucuteni Settlements from Moldavia
Alfons Fíguls, Olivier Weller, Fidel Grandia, The “Vall Salina” of Cardona and the Role of Salt in the Exchange
Network during the Middle Neolithic (4500–3500 BC) in Catalonia
Andrei Asăndulesei, Settlement Density around Salt Springs from Solca and Cacica in Neolithic and Chalcolithic
Ionuț Cristi Nicu, Andrei Asăndulesei, Gheorghe Romanescu, Alin Mihu-Pintilie, Vasile Cotiugă, Archaeological
Approaches of Salted Areas from Northeastern Romania
Elisa Guerra Doce, F. Javier Abarquero Moras, Germán Delibes de Castro, Brine Processing at the Beaker Site of
Molino Sanchón II (Zamora, Spain): A Technological Approach
Maciej Dębiec, Thomas Saile, Tyrawa Solna. Salt, Settlements and a Magnetometer Survey along the Lower Course
of the Tyrawka River (SE-Poland)
Gheorghe Dumitroaia, Constantin Preoteasa, Ciprian-Dorin Nicola, Unique Cucutenian Artefacts Related to Salt
Robin Brigand, Olivier Weller, Neolithic Territories and Salt Exploitation in Moldavia (Romania)
Roxana Munteanu, Sărata Monteoru: a Chalcolithic Site in a Saliferous Region
Qiaowei Wei, Ceramic Management at the Salt Production Site during the Early Bronze Age in the North
Valeriu Cavruc, The Bronze Age Salt Production Technologies in Transylvania and Maramureș
Tomaso Di Fraia, Reddish Ollas and Production and Use of Salt: an Open Question
Daniel Costache, Laurențiu Grigoraș, Settlements, Micro-regions and Natural Resources during the Bronze Age in
the Curvature Subcarpathians Area
Vasile Diaconu, Salt in the Bronze Age. An Overview of Subcarpathian Moldavia (Romania)
Neculai Bolohan, Luminița Bejenaru, Alexandru Gafincu, A Tiny Story about Salt, Herding and Landscape in Late
Bronze Age (LBA), Eastern Romania (Work in Progress)
Alfons Fíguls, Hans Reschreiter, Kerstin Kowarik, Research on the Use of Hallstatt's Stone Axes: Study of Mechanics
Martin Hees, Salt in Southwestern Germany at the End of the Iron Age
I. ANTHROPOLOGY AND ARCHAEOLOGY (Part 2)
Chairmen: Thomas Saile, Paolo Zuppi
Alfonso Stiglitz, Archaeology of Salt Works in Ancient Sardinia
Blas Castellón, Subterranean Water as a Source of Salt. Reflections on Technological Variations of their Use in the
South of Mexico
Magda Mircea, The Sacred Salt Spring of Erechtheion, or How the Aegean Sea Got to Flow High on the Top of
Wes Forsythe, The Archaeology of Salt in Ireland
Alexandru Popa, Salt vs. Limes in the Eastern Part of Roman Province of Dacia
Shinsaku Tanaka, The Development of Salt Industry during the State Formation Period
Kei Aoshima, Takamune Kawashima, Viorica Vasilache, Ion Sandu, Felix Tencariu, Archaeometric Analyses on
Briquetages from Minogahama Site, Japan (ca. 6th–7th century AD)
Catherine Liot, Elodie Mas, Javier Reveles, Salt, Shell and Obsidian. The Role of Salt Producers- Craftsmen in the
Sociocultural Dynamic of the Sayula Basin (Mexico) between 500 and 1000 A.D.
Ashley A. Dumas, Salt Production as a Reflection of Inter-Ethnic Contact and Culture Change during Late Prehistory
(A.D. 800–1100) in South Alabama, United States
Jorge Alejandro Ceja Acosta, María Luisa Martell, Archaeological Observations on the Salt Production in
Mesoamerica and Other Parts of the World. Technological Implications
Jorge Alejandro Ceja Acosta, Braulio Pérez, Ethnoarchaeology of Salt Production in Saltplaces from Oaxaca,
Dan Lucian Buzea, Andrea Chiricescu, The People of Salt and Experimental Archaeology in Romania
Chairmen: Răzvan Pantelimon, Andrei Emilciuc
Sebastian Fink, Salinization as a Trigger for Historical Change? The Case of Mesopotamia
Nuria Morère, Salt and Antiquity in the Iberian Peninsula: Research Perspectives
Bernard Moinier, Salt Outlets: Which Statistical Profiles in the Roman Empire?
Iulia Dumitrache, The Halieutic Circuit in Scythia Minor
Ioan Iațcu, Use of Salt in the Christian Church of Late Antiquity: Literary and Archaeological Evidence
Mihai-Cristian Amăriuței, Ludmila Bacumenco-Pîrnău, Salt “Roads” in Moldavia by the 18th Century: Production,
Transportation, and Consumption
Natalia Matveeva, Salt Works in Western Siberia in the First Half of 18th Century Influence on the Foreign Affairs
Ioan Iațcu, Salt and Economic Activities on the Pruth River, from Antiquity until the Late Medieval Period
Andrei Emilciuc, Organization and Functioning of Salt Extracting Industry in Bessarabia (1812–1850)
Irina Cereș, The Export of Salt from the Principality of Moldavia to the Russian Empire at the End of the 18th – Early
Valentin Tomuleț, Salt Exports of Bessarabia to Ukrainian and Russian Guberniyas (1812–1850)
Mircea-Cristian Ghenghea, From Blessing to Punishment. The Salt Issue in the Romanian Space in the 19th Century
as Seen by Foreign Travellers
Valentin Arapu, The Export of Salt from Moldavia to Poland (the Second Half of 18th Century – Beginning of 19th
Răzvan Victor Pantelimon, Marine Salt Exploitation in the Coastal Area of Chile
Chairmen: Iuri Simionca, Ioan-Sorin Stratulat
Roxana-Gabriela Curcă, Halotherapy in Graeco-Roman Antiquity
Iuri Simionca, The Underground Salt Mine Environment and Therapeutic Properties
Marius-Tiberiu Alexianu, Houses Constructed of Salt in Herodotus and Strabo: the First Halo-Chambers?
Roua Popescu, Cristina Nica, Mihaela Bertescu, Ovidiu Mera, Nicolae Ţigănilă, Mădălina Necula, Iuri Simionca,
Gheorghe Stoian, New Serum Lipid Biomarkers Can Be Useful in Bronchial Asthma and Speleotherapy Treatment
Cristina Nica, Cristina Cercel, Mihaela Bertescu, Ovidiu Mera, Nicolae Ţigănilă, Rodica Rogojan, Iuri Simionca,
Gheorghe Stoian, Oxidative Stress Biomarkers Useful in Bronchial Asthma and Speleotherapy Treatment
Ioan-Sorin Stratulat, Studies Regarding the Balneoclimatic Potential of Cacica Salt Mine, Suceava County
Maria Canache, Ion Sandu, Dan Canache, Andrei-Victor Sandu, Viorica Vasilache, Ioan Gabriel Sandu, Halotherapy
Ștefana Andrei, Salina Center Iași – 5 Years Since We Breathe Healthy
Chairmen: Katia Hueso Kortekaas, Igor Lyman, Ramón Ojeda-Mestre, Ovidiu Mera
Gheorghe Romanescu, The Distribution of Resources and Quality of Salt in Europe
Ricardo N. Alonso, Neogene and Quaternary Salt in the Central Andes (Perú, Bolivia, Chile and Argentina)
Takamune Kawashima, Ethnographical Perspective on Salt in Japan
Andrea Chiricescu, Traditional Salt Exploitation in South-East Transylvania
Katia Hueso Kortekaas, What Factors Contribute Best to Preserve the Heritage of Inland Salinas in Iberia?
Arina Ceaușu, Yām HaMélah, The Sea of Salt
Martha Monzón Flores, Huixtocíhuatl. The Goddess of Salt
Laurent Adopo Kouassi, Gheorghe Romanescu, The Salt of Ivory Coast (Africa)
Gustavo A. Ramírez Castilla, «Salt of the Earth». Salt Extraction and Trade in Lomas del Real (Costa de Altamira,
Tamaulipas, México). A 3,000 Year Old Tradition that is Becoming Extinct
Ioan Nistor, Gheorghe Romanescu, Salt in Canada-Distribution and Resources
Ramón Ojeda-Mestre, Tamara Montalvo-Arce, Jesús Montaño-Avilés, Maribel Patiño, Environmental Care in
Modern Salt Production. An Experience in Mexico
Jesús Montaño-Avilés, Baja California Sur the Queen of Salt in Mexico
Innocent Kouame Kouassi, Gheorghe Romanescu, Salt Exploitation in Africa
Oriol Beltran Costa, The ‘Patrimonialization’ of the Maras Salt Mines (Cusco, Peru): Traditional Salt Production
Systems and Their Use in Tourism
Igor Lyman, Viktoria Konstantinova, Ukrainian Traditional Salt Traders (“Chumaks”) in the North of the Sea of Azov
(Case Study of Berdyansk District)
Ana Ilie, Salt in Romanians’ Traditions. Notes for the Intangible Heritage in Dâmbovița County
Roxana Diaconu, Vasile Diaconu, Wooden Recipients Used for Salt. An Ethnographic Approach
Ovidiu Mera, Dan Tiberiu Mera, Tudor-Gabriel Bodea, The Vertical Transportation of Salt in the Old Turda Salt
Ovidiu Mera, Dan Tiberiu Mera, Tudor-Gabriel Bodea, Iuri Simionca, Mining and Tourism in the Turda Salt Mine
V. LITERARY AND LINGUISTIC APPROACHES
Chairmen: Mihaela Paraschiv, Adrian Poruciuc
Mihaela Paraschiv, Salt in the Opsartytique Ancient Literature
Claudia Tărnăuceanu, Testimonies in Latin Regarding Salt Exploitation in Moldavia in the 17th and 18th Centuries
Mihaela Asăndulesei, Salt Symbolism in the Work of Elena Niculiță-Voronca
Peter A. Dimitrov, Indo-European Linguistics: IE Onomastics Related to Salt and Salt-Related Places
Adrian Poruciuc, Norbert Poruciuc, Salt Terminology in Germanic Languages
Ileana Oana Macari, The Grammar of Salt: Morphosyntactic and Morphosemantic Features of Salt Idioms in
English and Romanian
Mihaela Asăndulesei, Salt-Related Toponyms in the Romanian Area between Carpathians and the Pruth
STUDY TRIP TO THE TÂRGU OCNA SALT MINE
DEPARTURE OF THE PARTICIPANTS
Anthropology of Salt: Challenges of a New Discipline
In a first approach published in 2012, the author made the first step towards establishing a new discipline, the
anthropology of salt. A symposium organized in Iasi in the same year, in the framework of the EthnosalRo project,
sought to test at the national level the validity of this proposal, the results of which have been encouraging. On
that occasion it became clear that, respecting the disciplinary rigours, the anthropology of salt stricto sensu
(archaeology, history, ethnology, linguistics) has strong chances to establish itself as a recognized discipline. But,
as it is well known, there are countless other disciplines or sciences whose object of inquiry is NaCl. The natural
outcome is to ask ourselves: how far can we extend, lato sensu, the anthropology of salt? Which sciences and
disciplines can and cannot be brought under the same umbrella of the anthropology of salt?
A hackneyed observation is—to limit ourselves to just two related humanity fields—that archaeologists are
not generally interested or even reject ab initio the historians’ trials on this topic; the opposite is likewise true.
And should I even mention the reactions towards other disciplines/sciences more or less associated to the
humanities! My behaviour was exactly the opposite, and from personal experience I can state that contact and
dialogue with representatives of other disciplines/sciences (e.g., geography, geology, chemistry, medicine) were
particularly stimulatory, sometimes engendering some genuinely new research directions. Not once have I found
that the reactions were reciprocal. We are referring, of course, to personal initiatives that veer from the usual
practice within a discipline. The current situation, which is paradoxically due to scientific progress, and which
presuppose increasingly abstruse specialisations, reveals a critical impasse: the scientific communities no longer
communicate with each other!
Returning to our research object, I take full responsibility for the statement that researching man’s reactions
to salt, along the diatopic and diachronic levels and from a perspective as wide as possible, is not an ex cathedra
exigency, but a necessity generated by a incontestable reality: salt is the mineral that left the strongest mark on
human life, from the material aspects to the spiritual reflexes. Obviously, the anthropology of salt cannot be
conceived as a simple, mechanical listing of all the disciplines/sciences (with their specific principles and methods)
that have NaCl as study object. In my opinion, the anthropology of salt would gradually individualise as an
autonomous field, dealing with such diverse research themes, only if the mono- and multi-disciplinary approaches
will be replaced by inter- and trans-disciplinary ones.
For the near future, we must overcome a major obstacle for consolidating this discipline: even though it has a
birth certificate, the anthropology of salt still lacks a definition! This is why I don’t hesitate in stating that the
anthropology of salt is rather a discipline of the future than of the present. I can only entertain the hope that the
second congress on the anthropology of salt will mark a new step towards the autonomisation, the
individualisation of this discipline.
Ethnosalro Project. Work in Progress
Marius Alexianu, Olivier Weller, Ion Sandu, Gheorghe Romanescu, Robin Brigand, Roxana-Gabriela Curcă,
Vasile Cotiugă, Felix Tencariu, Andrei Asăndulesei, Ştefan Caliniuc, Radu Balaur, Mihaela Asăndulesei
The multidisciplinary studies related to salt (either in a solid or liquid state of aggregation) have underlined its
overwhelming role for alimentation, human and animal health state, food conservation during unproductive
seasons (before the era of refrigeration), the stability and development of human habitat. This function
subsequently determined the tendency to control (inclusively in a military way) this natural resource,
irreplaceable to human life The sub-Carpathian area of the Eastern Romania, characterized by a high density of
the salt springs (over 200 that we know so far), holds the record for the most ancient traces of salt exploitation all
around the European area, beginning with the Starčevo-Criş culture. To this essential aspect for the whole
European prehistory we should also add that the most distinctive aspect which clearly set apart and distinguished
the sub-Carpathian Moldavian area from similar European ones (or maybe worldwide), where diachronic methods
of salt spring exploitation were attested, is the continuity of these methods to an intensity difficult to imagine up
to the present, regardless of any sort of mechanization, economic organization or legal regulation, hence in
similar conditions to those of pre-industrial societies. This unique situation in Europe represents the ideal
framework for the development of complex ethnoarchaeological researches even within the European Union.
Nowadays, researchers resort to the ethnographic analogies regarding remote areas unrelated to salt springs, in
order to understand the archaeological phenomena related to salt springs, which drastically reduces the
adequacy degree and the credibility of the ethnographic analogy.
The approach of the Romanian-French team so far, which completely observed the exigencies specific to the
ethnoarchaeology, underlined the huge cognitive potential of this area on a global level. The idea to compare a
Neolithic (and of other historical eras) situation, despite the succession of different archaeological cultures around
salt springs, to the present day situation gains a solid ground in the fact that traditional brine supply methods and
their intensity, the distribution and use networks of salt springs are practically identical. This is proven by the
mediaeval and modern documents that cover a period of half of a millennium. Thus, the methodological novelty
consists in the substantiation of applying current models to prehistoric archaeological contexts, beginning with
the ascertained fact of the continuity—during the second half of the millennium—of the economic patterns and
social contexts generated by the existence of salt springs. This occurred despite the major changes in the social,
political, and administrative organization of the communities within the sub-Carpathian Moldavian area,
inclusively the fact that Romania joined the European Union. An essential impediment in the setting of
ethnoarchaeological researches was the lack of ethnographic studies related to the phenomenon of exploiting
brine from salt springs. As we already know, ethnographers do not deal with the same issues as archaeologists;
as consequence, most of the situations that could be interesting for the archaeology are never recorded. Due
to this fact, an original ethnographic questionnaire related to the subject of salt springs exploitation from an
archaeological perspective was elaborated. By successfully testing this useful instrument on the whole Eastern
sub-Carpathian Romanian space, we elaborated a complex database that has already enabled the first
modelling processes. The results of spatial analyses provide solid arguments to accept/reject several working
hypotheses related to the role of salt springs in prehistory, especially in the Cucuteni-Tripolye cultural complex.
Given the fact that the salt spring exploitation in Mexico, America, etc., even though it presents very interesting
aspects, it does not have enough amplitude for complex modelling. Our 1992 study caught the attention of O.
Weller (CNRS France) who obtained several successive series of financing since 2003 in order to carry on
ethnoarchaeological investigations in the salt springs area, whose importance we have apprehended. Since 2007-
2010 the researches have intensified within the CNCSIS Idei no. 167/2007 project, entitled The salt springs of
Moldavia: the ethnoarchaeology of a polyvalent natural resource (Alexianu, M., Weller, O. ‘The Ethnosal
project. Ethnoarchaeological investigation at the Moldavian salt springs’, Antiquity, vol. 83, Issue 321, September
Because each campaign provided new and often unexpected aspects concerning the exploitation, uses,
distribution networks, social contexts related to salt springs, we need to extend the ethnoarchaeological
research framework to the entire Romanian extra-Carpathian area in order to build a saturated model (cf. G. E.
Sacks, Saturated model theory2, World Scientific Publishing Co., Singapore, 2010). We need to continue this type
of research, taking into account also the imminent disappearance of the older generations, who have first-hand
information regarding the non-industrial salt exploitation during the last century. We underline the fact that, for
the first time in the field of ethnoarchaeology, the correlations between the exploitation of salt springs and
that of salt mountains/cliffs will be systematically analyzed. We thus create the premises to fully substantiate
interpretative models impossible to achieve anywhere else in Europe. It is obvious that the modeling based on
such a consistent database maximizes the credibility of using the ethnographical analogy to understand the
various contexts on the archaeological time. Therefore, the different sub-models provided by this project will
undoubtedly be used as reference for the areas—anywhere in the world—with evidences of salt exploitation in
the archaeological, but not in the ethnographic time. We also mention that the tendency to build potentially
universal models will not exclude the emphasis on the idiographic aspects illustrating the intelligence of human
behaviours in particular situations. On the other side, the complexity and diversity of ethnographic data of such
a large area is the ideal information support to theoretically substantiate the concept of anthropology of salt, that
we have recently put into circulation (Archaeology and Anthropology of Salt: a diachronic approach, (eds. M.
Alexianu, O. Weller, R.-G. Curcă), BAR 2198, Archaeopress, 2011, Oxford).
The project proposed aims to apply the spatial method in the field of ethnoarchaeological researches on salt
springs. This top, innovating orientation in the field of ethnoarchaeological researches will be extended to the
whole extra-Carpathian region, and, in the future, to the intra-Carpathian area. It is obvious that the Romanian-
French ethnoarchaeological researches on salt springs will impose a pattern of scientific behaviour for all future
European and international researches on the ethnoarchaeology of salt springs and salt mountains/cliffs and on
ethnoarchaeology in general.
The saturated model of non-industrial salt exploitation, developed as a result of the project’s implementation,
will undoubtedly represent an inevitable referential for the ethnoarchaeological researches on salt worldwide.
The theoretical substantiation behind the concept of anthropology of salt will definitely inspire and potentiate
the interest of specialists from other fields of knowledge (especially, medicine, biochemistry, linguistics,
philology, hermeneutics). It is our firm believe that the original features of this Romanian project will entice the
interest of both students and young researchers, specialized in exploring the past of Romania, Europe and other
continents. The proceeding stages of the project will also feature a highly important cultural significance through
the safeguarding intangible heritage regarding the universe of salt. A few important involvements must be
underlined concerning the public health care within the investigated areas (detecting the toxic elements of brine
from salt springs), the sustainability of rural economy, through supporting this parallel non-quantifiable economy,
medicine (traditional halotherapy). The future results of this project developed in the extra- Carpathian area of
Romania can be used successfully used within the archaeological and ethnographical tourism programs.
Recent Archaeology of Salt in the Eastern United States
Ashley A. Dumas
This presentation draws largely from recent syntheses of salt-making in eastern North America and provides
the latest information on prehistoric and historic salt production sites from the southeastern region. Excavations
and analyses in Louisiana, Tennessee, and Alabama have expanded our understanding of the scale and variety of
production technologies. Of particular interest is the near complete reliance on salines springs and that, despite
widespread geographical and chronological studies of salt production in the region, evidence for the use of
briquetage, so commonly associated with salines elsewhere, is rare.
Archaeology of Salt Production in the Three Gorges Region: Focus on the Zhongba Site
At the end of the last century, extensive rescue excavations were conducted in connection with the Three
Gorges Dam Project. In the process, a number of ancient sites with deeply stratified cultural deposits that
contained large numbers of artifacts of uniform shape were discovered in the area that has been flooded as the
result of the construction of the dam. The most representative of these sites is Zhongba, which was occupied
from the late Neolithic period to modern times, and which comprises cultural deposits of more than 12m in
depth. The excavation of this important site was the starting point of research on salt archaeology in China.
During the excavations at Zhongba, a very large number of features and artifacts were found, including
remains of salt-production workshops, brine-storage basins, clusters of circular storage pits, trenches covered
with clay, and furnaces. They belong to different time phases, ranging from the late Neolithic to the Tang dynasty.
At the same time, large quantities of briquetage vessels were found, including three main types of clearly
separated chronological distribution: vats (gang) with scalloped rims and pointed bottoms from the late Neolithic;
pointed-bottom cups (bei) from the transition from the Shang to the Zhou period; and jars (guan) with scalloped
rims and globular bottoms from the Eastern Zhou period. Through careful analysis and comparative research, we
have been able to prove that the Zhongba site was a major salt-production center in the area extending from the
eastern part of Chongqing Municipality to the Three Gorges region. The typological changes of the salt-making
pottery vessels show the development of salt-production techniques and improvements in production
management and increasing specialization. From the Han dynasty onward, as briquetage was replaced by metal
salt-boiling pans, the scale of production rapidly grew. By the Tang and Song periods, the salt workshops in this
area already possessed some of the basic characteristics of modern salt factories.
First Salt Making in Europe: an Overview from Neolithic Times
This paper deals with the origin of salt production and discusses different approaches ranging from
technology, ethnoarchaeology and paleoenvironmental studies to chemical analyses. Starting from the current
research on the Neolithic exploitation of salt in Europe, we examine the types and nature of the salt resources
(sea water, salt springs, soil or rock), the diversity of archaeological evidence as forms of salt working. We also
scrutinize the types of production for these early forms of salt exploitation, with or without the use of crudely-
fired clay vessels (briquetage). Finally, we contextualize the socio-economic dimensions and highlight both the
diversity of salt products, as well as their characteristics, which go well beyond dietary roles.
Fig. 1. An European assessment for the Neolithic and Chalcolithic periods (6000-2300 BC): the various
archaeological evidences for salt production (Weller 2015 in Brigand & Weller (eds), Archaeology of Salt. Leiden:
Archaeology and Ethnology of Salt in Japan
Salt in Japan has been produced by seawater since the last stage of the Jōmon period (3400 BP), except some
salt producing examples in the inland areas using salt spring. After the Middle Yayoi period salt pottery was
invented in the central Inland Sea, and spread to west and east. During Kofun period, salt producing areas were
distributed from central Japan to Kyūshū Island. These areas have kept producing salt till the Late Heian period. As
seen in the literature "Suōnokuni Shōzeichō", iron pan was introduced in some areas, such as Yamaguchi
prefecture where salt pottery for boiling brine would have disappeared and only briquetage existed. By the 10th
century salt pottery including briquetage disappeared in most areas. Ancient literature suggests that sea grass
was used to obtain high salinity concentration. In the Medieval period clay salt-pan was introduced, which could
be accompanied with exploitation of sandy beaches for making brine by the banked salt-terrace method. This
method was replaced by the channeled salt-terrace method in the Early Modern period. While the channeled salt-
terrace was flourished in the Inland Sea area, other areas with small beaches kept the banked salt-terrace method
or simply boiled down seawater. In this paper I will describe a summary of the history of Japanese salt production
and introduce some ethnographic examples and historical literature of salt production and consumption in Japan.
Anthropology of Salt in Mexico in the Past 10 Years. An Overview
In this presentation is outlined the background of research on salt in Mexico, as well as its major projects in
the past ten years. The main trends have been defined based on the studies of regional history, and other efforts
have started from archaeology and ethnographic and anthropological studies. However, almost always the issues
related to the exploitation and use of salt, have been complementary to other initial interest with which it is
related, such as gastronomy, social organization, agency studies, landscape, exchange, symbolism, tradition and
social change. There is no yet a specialization on this subject despite the extensive number of vestiges of
exploitation in different periods of the past that exist practically in all the territory. Here is a summary of the
major studies about salt anthropology in Mexico, and the current perspectives for these studies.
‘Salt in Prehistoric Europe’: the Challenges and Perspectives of a General Book on Ancient Salt
My book Salt in Prehistoric Europe, published by Sidestone Press in 2013, arose from a long-standing interest
in the importance of salt in the ancient world. In the 1990s, when this interest started, there were few people
working on ancient salt, and little interest in the topic among mainstream archaeologists. This has changed
markedly over the last 20 years.
In a Bronze Age context (my special field), the only certain production methods were by means of briquetage,
as known especially from the Halle area, and deep mining, as at Hallstatt. Large parts of Europe had no evidence
at all for salt production, even where salt was naturally present in large quantities. It was my interest in this
problem that led to fieldwork in Romania starting in 2002, followed by extensive campaigns of excavation and
visits to neighbouring parts of the Carpathian Basin.
The spectacular finds from Transylvania, while important in their own right, needed to be set in context, both
geographically and chronologically. This was the background to the production of the 2013 book. In this
presentation I will present some of the problems and results that emerged from that enterprise.
Usage, Therapy and Magical Cure of Salt among Mongolian Ethnic Groups
Salt Mountain, Myth of the origin of Salt Lake
In the myth, Salt Mountain, located in Torkhilog bag, Davst soum, Uvs province in a remote western edge of
Mongolia, was originated by an old man and woman who were keeping their treasures with salt in the sacks
under the ground while waiting their son from the war and the salt was melt by the sunshine, rain and humidity
and became salty hill, whereas Salt Lake, situated in remote eastern Dornod province, was said to have been
originated by the creation of To wang or Togtokhtör, a wise man, who brought salt from China and planted it on a
The uses of Salt
The usage of salt is quite different among Mongolian ethnic groups. People of Dornod steppe don’t use salt in
their teas but much salty food whereas western Mongolians don’t use salt in their food, but much salt in their
teas. The Torguud people among western Mongolians use the salt too affluently, while the Ööled people use it
sparingly, which may have been caused by the distance of salt mining. Because of this, Torguud people say that
e are not Ööled , not sick and will use salt affluently” and Ööled people say that “we are not Torguud, not a
camel and will use salt scarcely”.
1. Salt Therapy
If human bone fractures, use melted salt applying on camel wool and put it on a broken bone then swelling
will be gone down. If man freezes, then use salt applying on whole body and it will be thawed. Horse salt or blue
salt will be used when joint pain occurs. There is a myth that some people suffering from gastric disease lick salty
stones afterwards will be healed up.
2. Salt as a Magical Cure
While infant cries excessively for no apparent reason, all Mongolian ethnic groups use same custom to use
salt for magical cure. For example, the Ööled people of the ‘Mongol circle’ of Shinjaan put seven pieces of salt and
some infant’s food down on wood charcoal and turn infant’s head clockwise three times and vice versa. And make
a child spit out on infant’s face three times then face him to the north or sun setting direction. Finally the infant
stops crying and ‘bad thing’ will be disappeared. The Ööled of this region take an oath while two people argue on
truth value, “If I said false I would pee on salt”. The reason is that if someone pees on salt, there will be happened
bad things for his children. Swearing by his children means that he told the truth. They also consider that when
salt is on fire, the eyes of cattle will be blinded. When salt is in yoghurt, it will be soured. Central Khalkhs consider
that if someone looking for his lost thing on the way holding seven salts, then it will be found.
Depressed Classes of Madigas and its Culture Reflects in Using of Salt
in Tanning and Traditional Buried the Body in South India
The traditional Indian society was based on varna and jati. This system is very ancient in origin and through
the passage of time it has undergone profound changes, but caste still a very powerful institution in our socio-
economic, religious and political organization. The most disquiet tuning and disturbing feature connected with the
caste system has been the concept of untouchables. The Untouchable majorly in Depressed class now Scheduled
caste, in this scheduled caste Madiga or Chamar related sub castes like Mochi , Mang and Gondari etc. , are
followed leather works , those people are followed traditional occupation is leather work and tanning. In this
continuation these communities are using lot of salt in making of raw skin to leather goods.
Types of tanning system they are mainly two methods. Vegetable tanning and Chrome tanning Vegetable
tanning preserves the skin by the use astringent substance found in the barks of many trees. If the process of
tanning is through chemicals and enzymes it is called chrome tanning. In both the process is different. But chrome
tanning is a modern method whereas the Vegetable tanning is considered to be primitive. The process adopted
Depressed Caste of Madiga sub-castes. The tanners are not aware of chrome tanning. There is also any other
method of tanning called aluminium tanning which is used only for particular kinds of skins.
Vegetable tanning process with Salt and other plant materials: Tannic acid, an astringent substance used
for tanning is found in many barks. Karakkaya (Myrobolan) is also very commonly used for tanning. Local
traditional Madiga caste tanners are used Tangedu Chekka (Cassia Articulate), Salt and Myrobolan in the process.
The raw skin arrives at tannery they will be in different conditions. Among them IV kinds of skin found some are
fresh skins called green stock. Some others are called salted skins and dried up in the sun before they are sold to
the tanners. They are called dry salted skins. The last varieties are those are dried in the sun without applying any
salt which are called simply dry skins. In the leather making process with the skin lot of the different methods Salt
is the useful nature made. With the continuations in the communities are follow traditional of the community
when the person died , the dead body crimination time in the burial uses Salt as traditionally and medically
especially in the South India Group of Chamar community, Depressed classes/ Scheduled castes are using the Salt.
Clay, Fire and Salt. Experimental Approaches on the Prehistoric Briquetage Technique
Felix Tencariu, Marius-Tiberiu Alexianu, Vasile Cotiugă, Viorica Vasilache, Ion Sandu
This paper describes the background, objectives, progress and results of some field experiments concerning
the production of salt cakes using ceramic vessels known as briquetage, conducted within the framework of a
larger research project concerning the ethnoarchaeology of the salt springs from the extra-Carpathian areas of
Romania. The approach was based on the existing archaeological data — description of briquetage shards and
their discovery contexts, as well as on ethnoarchaeological accounts and previous experimentations. The
experiments allowed some valuable observations on the distinct aspects of this chaîne opératoire: modelling and
firing the briquetage vessels; exposure to fire of the recipients filled with brine or a salt slurry of varied
concentrations; the amount of time needed for crystallization and hardening of the salt, dependent on the fuels
used and temperatures reached; ways of extracting the salt cakes from the ceramic coat; assessment of the effort
(i.e. labour and raw materials) involved by the whole process. All the failures, challenges encountered during the
experiments granted an insight into an ancient technique, described mainly a priori in the archaeological
literature. Also, it gives a hint in understanding the appreciable importance and value of salt in times when this
essential mineral was not available as it is today. The experiment at Cucuteni is the first successful attempt to get
solid salt cakes in briquetage vessels type by crystallizing brine, in an open fire, using only raw materials and fuels
available in prehistory.
The Archaeological Evidence for Salt Production in Romania
Salt sources accessible for pre-industrial exploitation in Romania
The sources of salt in Romania available for pre-industrial exploitation are among the richest in the region.
The most consistent of them—rock salt outcrops and deposits at shallow depth, brine springs, salty lakes and
streams—are spread in the Carpathian Saline Province that includes Transylvania, Maramureș and sub-Carpathian
areas of Lesser Poland, Galicia, Bukovina, Moldavia, Wallachia and Oltenia. The salt sources in the rest of Romania
are much less consistent. Soils with high salinity are present in the Romanian Plain, Moldavia and Great Hungarian
Plain; limans, salt lakes and brackish water springs are available north and west of the Black Sea — in eastern
Wallachia, southern Moldavia and Dobrudja. The archaeological evaluation of these sources has been carried out
just partially. Mostly the brine springs were studied, especially in Moldavia, and to a lesser extent in Transylvania,
Wallachia and Oltenia. Also, in Romania has yet not been carried out the researches concerning the dynamics of
the saline landscapes from prehistory to modern times.
Ancient salt production evidence in Romania
The substantial archaeological salt production evidence is known in western Moldavia and Transylvania. Less
conclusive evidence comes from Wallachia and Oltenia.
The archaeological evidence for salt production in Moldavia
Up to this moment, six sites with reliable archaeological traces of salt production have been researched in
Moldavia. They are located in the northwest and west of the province, along the eastern slope of the Eastern
Carpathians. All of them are located close to brine springs. The first researches concerning ancient salt production
in Moldavia have been carried out in 1968 in the Solca-Slatina Mare site. After that, in 1980–2010, the researches
were carried out in the salt production sites of Cacica–Salina, Lunca–Poiana Sărată, Cucuieți–Slatina Veche and
Țolici–Hălăbutoaia by the Piatra-Neamț Museum of History, University of Iași, Iași Institute of Archaeology,
French National Centre for Scientific Research, and Durham University. The researches in these sites have
revealed the Neolithic, Eneolithic, Bronze Age, Iron Age and medieval evidence for seasonal exploitation of the
The Neolithic (ca. 6050–4600 BC) evidence for salt production was uncovered in the Lunca–Poiana Slatinei,
Țolici–Hălăbutoaia and Cucuieți–Slatina Veche sites. They are in the form of consistent deposits of ash together
with common pottery of Starčevo-Criș, Precucuteni and LBK cultures.
The Eneolithic (ca. 4450–3500 BC) evidence was researched in six salt production sites. In Lunca–Poiana
Slatinei, Țolici–Hălăbutoaia, Oglinzi–Băi, Cacica and Solca, the Eneolithic traces of salt production are in the form
of massive deposits consisting of successive clay lenses, charcoal and ashes together with the pottery specific to
the Cucuteni culture (A2, AB and B stages). In these deposits, together with the common pottery specific to the
Cucuteni culture, the coarse pottery and briquetage are present. The coarse pottery (the so-called Cucuteni C-
type pottery) is made of clay porous fabric mixed with crushed shells. It is present in relatively high proportion in
the sites – up to 40%. The second ceramic category includes hundreds of fragments of briquetage – small cone-
shaped vases with disk-shaped piedestal. The only Eneolithic salt production site in Moldavia without briquetage
is the Cucuieți-Slatina Veche one.
Sometimes, fragments of briquetage were found in common Cucuteni culture settlements, for example in the
Adâncata–Dealul Lipovanului site, located far from the brine springs. Such findings highly suggest that salt was
“traded” together with briquetage.
The Bronze Age salt production evidence was uncovered in 2 sites in western Moldavia: in Lunca–Poiana
Slatinei and Cucuieți–Slatina Veche. In both of them the deposits formed from successive lenses of ash and burnt
clay, together with common pottery, have been researched. In the site of Lunca–Poiana Slatinei the Bronze age
pottery is of the Trzciniec-Komarow (ca. 1800–1600 BC) and Noua (ca. 1500–1100 BC) cultures. Most Bronze Age
shards found in the Cucuieți–Slatina Veche site is of the Trzciniec-Komarow culture, also there are present some
ceramic "imports" from Transylvania (shards specific to the Wietenberg culture) and from southern Moldavia (a
few shards specific to the Monteoru culture). The pottery done especially for brine boiling was not identified in
the Bronze Age deposits of the sites.
The Iron Age salt production traces are present in two sites: Cucuieți–Slatina Veche and Lunca–Poiana
Slatinei. The traces of a heavily damaged structure made of burned clay, as well as the pottery specific to the
Canlia group were uncovered in the Slatina Veche site. The predominant pottery types in this site are bowls and
dishes which presumably were used for brine boiling.
The remains of medieval salt production in Moldavia, as compared with prehistoric evidence, are less known.
One of the most prominent medieval salt production evidence was the 11th century AD well researched in the
Lunca–Poiana Slatinei site.
The archaeological evidence for salt production in Transylvania
First, the archaeological evidence for ancient salt production was discovered in Transylvania by chance at the
very beginning of the last century. Thus, two votive altars with inscribed texts referring to the Roman officials
responsible for the administration of salt in Dacia were found between the Domnești and Sărățel villages in the
northeast Transylvania and near the Sânpaul village in east of the province, both not far away from the local
Roman forts. Three shafts dug in rock salt, with many Bronze Age mining tools and implements inside them were
uncovered in 1938 in the Valea Florilor village, in western Transylvania.
The systematic archaeological researches concerning ancient salt production have started in Transylvania in
2000. These were carried out in south-eastern, eastern and north-eastern parts of the province by the joint
Romanian-British team (The National Museum of the Eastern Carpathians and the University of Exeter), and in
southern Transylvania by the Brukenthal and Făgăraș museums. The non-intrusive research methods (landscape,
topography, geophysics, geology, sampling, etc.) were predominant during this projects. In this way several new
salt production sites in northeast Transylvania: Caila, Săsarm, Băile Figa and Domnești-Sărățel, as well as two
fortified settlements located among them—Coldău and Beclean—were uncovered and investigated. At the same
time, in 2007–2014, the salt production site of Băile Figa was excavated. This site has provided the most
consistent Bronze Age and Iron Age salt production evidence in whole of southeast Europe. In eastern
Transylvania, 3 salt production sites were uncovered: Sânpaul, Comănești and Orșova. In southeast Transylvania
the possible evidence for ancient salt production were uncovered in Zoltan and Olteni. In southern Transylvania—
in Țara Făgărașului—the works were less successful, but they managed to map most of salt springs in the area, as
well as the archaeological sites around them.
The researches carried out in the last 15 years in Transylvania, as well as the previous findings, have shown
that the archaeological evidence for ancient salt production in this province is spread over the areas rich in
deposits of rock salt and salt water springs, as well as in the salt-poor areas. Thus, the traces of salt production
were documented in two sites in Brașov Depression (Zoltan and Olteni, Covasna county), in two sites in the
Homorod Depression (Sânpaul and Comănești, Harghita county), one site in the Superior Mureș valley (Orșova,
Mureș county), one site in the middle Mureș valley (Ocna Mureș, Alba county), one site in the Arieș valley (Valea
Florilor, Cluj county), four sites in the Someșul Mare Basin (Băile Figa, Săsarm, Caila and Sărățel-Domnești,
The salt production evidence uncovered in Transylvania dates from the Later Copper Age to the pre-modern
period—i.e. from ca. 3300 BC up to ca. 1900 AD. The most consistent evidence dates from the Late Bronze Age (c.
1600–800 BC), the second Iron Age (400–180 BC) and the Roman Dacia period (106–271 AD). Apparently, during
the above-mentioned periods, salt was exploited on an industrial scale and was intended for more or less remote
salt-poor territories. Also, there are some chronological sequences, for which in Transylvania has not yet been
discovered the evidence for salt production: Middle Bronze Age (ca. 2000–1600 BC), the first Iron Age (ca. 800–
400 BC), the pre-Roman period (ca. 180 BC–100 AD), post-Roman period (ca. 271–420 AD) and early medieval
period (c. 540–
1400 AD). Though according to written sources, since ca. 900 AD to ca. 1900 AD salt has been
exploited and traded very intensively in Transylvania, the archaeological evidence for salt production from that
period is still very poor. That is probably caused by the destruction of them by the modern salt mining. To what
extent, these gaps are due to the past or to the current state of research, it is difficult to assess.
The Bronze Age salt production evidence in Transylvania was found in Băile Figa (ca. 3300–2800 BC and 2400–
2000 BC, and most from ca. 1600–800 BC), in Săsarm (ca. 1550–800 BC), in Caila (ca. 1300–900 BC), Comănești
(ca. 1800–1400 BC), in Zoltan and Olteni (ca. 1500–1100 BC). In most cases, the available Bronze Age evidence in
Transylvania does not allow safe reconstruction of the scale and methods of salt production. However, in the
current level of knowledge, one can conclude that during Bronze Age both the rock salt and brine have been
exploited. The production scale varied depending on natural and cultural environment. Certainly, most Bronze
Age communities have practiced "domestic" salt production, in order to satisfy their own needs in salt. However,
it seems that in the time span between ca. 1600 and 800 BC, in the major navigable river valleys like Someșul
Mare (Caila, Băile Figa and Săsarm) and Mureș (Valea Florilor, Ocna Mureșului) the "industrial" rock salt
exploitation has been practiced, with complex technologies, management and control of the trade routes. The
most consistent salt exploitation traces of this type have been investigated in north-eastern Transylvania, in the
Someșul Mare Basin, in three sites—Băile Figa, Caila and Săsarm—concentrated in the area of ca. 15×5 km. Many
wooden structures (galleries and enclosures), installations (troughs, ladder, gutters etc.), as well as various mining
tools and utensils—stone hammers, wooden sledge hammers, wedges, shovels etc.—have been uncovered in
The Iron Age salt production evidence in Transylvania was uncovered just in the northeast of the province: in
the Baile Figa and Săsarm sites. The box-like timber structure (ca. 400–180 BC) uncovered in Băile Figa seems to
have been the top of the shaft. Close to it, the wooden ladder and pre-Roman Dacian pottery was found. In
Săsarm, among the many wooden structures visible on the surface, Celtic pottery was found.
From the period of Roman province Dacia (106–271 AD) dates four votive altars found in Vețel-Micia, Sânpaul,
Sărățel-Domnești and Boia Bârzii. These show the inscriptions mentioning high officials responsible for the
administration of salt in Roman Dacia. Romans exploited the richest deposits of rock salt for the maintenance of
the military units in Dacia and other Danubian provinces. During medieval and modern times, most traces of
Roman salt exploitations seem to have been destroyed. In some of them—in Praid, Ocna Mureș, Ocna Sibiului,
Sânpaul—just some isolated artefacts of Roman age were found, without relevant archaeological contexts. The
only Roman salt production site in Dacia—Sărățel-Domnești—seems to have not been badly destroyed. The
recent non-invasive researches performed in this site have attested marks of the shafts visible on the terrain
surface as well as some Roman age artefacts.
The post-Roman period (ca. 420–900 AD) salt production evidence was discovered at Băile Figa, the Middle
Age evidence (ca. 1400–1700 AD) was attested in Băile Figa, Sânpaul and Săsarm. The pre-modern period (1700–
1900 AD) evidence was found at Baile Figa and Săsarm. In the current stage of research, the archaeological data
on salt exploitation in the post-Roman, medieval and pre-modern periods in Transylvania are inconclusive.
The archaeological salt production evidence in Wallachia
There are four known possible salt production sites in Wallachia. Three of them are located in Bărăgan
(steppe zone in eastern Muntenia, Ialomița county) and one in the Prahova Subcarpathians (Predealul Sărat,
Prahova County). The three sites in Bărăgan—Stelnica-Grădiștea Mare, Țăndărei-Cherhanale, and Bucu-Pochină,
all in Ialomița County—are located in the salt-poor area in which just brackish water springs are present here and
there. The massive pans with tall legs made of coarse porous clay fabric were found in these sites, in the context
of the Late Bronze Age Coslogeni culture (ca. 1300–1100 BC). Based on the analogies in other salt production sites
and taking into account that such pans were found just in the areas with brackish water springs (Bărăgan and
southeast Transylvania), it was assumed that they were used for brine evaporation.
Wooden tools used in salt extraction were discovered in the salt-rich area near the Predeal Sărat village in
Prahova Subcarpathians. Their age has not yet been established.
The archaeological salt production evidence in Oltenia
The Subcarpathian zone of north-eastern Oltenia is rich in rock salt deposits and brine springs. Here, around
the brine springs in Ocnița-Valea Sărată, Ocnele Mari-Ştrand and Căzănești, several clusters of prehistoric sites
were researched. In four of them, in the Coțofeni culture (ca. 3300–2800) context, a few briquetage were found.
In addition, several stone mining tools were found in the area. However, in the present state of research, the
archaeological traces of salt production in Oltenia are still less consistent.
The archaeological evidence for salt production in Romania is among most consistent in Europe. The
researches in Moldavia and Transylvania are among most important in Europe. At the same time, the evidence is
researched unevenly, both chronologically and geographically. The present stage of research does not allow
reliable reconstruction of the production technologies, scale and cultural, economic and political implications of
ancient salt exploitation. Most of salt production sites do not benefit of protection and effective management.
The priorities in the archaeology of salt in Romania for next period have to be the protection of the sites and non-
invasive analytical, landscape and ethno-archaeological researches.
“Cum grano salis” — a Model of Man's Complexity
Michele Zuppi, Andrea Zuppi, Paolo Zuppi, Elisabetta Rossi
Salt is an object studied from many fields of knowledge, such as biology, medicine, anthropology, sociology,
The various sciences, are based on their own paradigms and beliefs, and approach the subject with differing
methodologies and objectives
Scientific evidence coming from such numerous disciplines, so dissimilar between them, is difficult to
integrate, and the insights of each discipline remain distant from each other. These fragmentary pieces of
knowledge endure as a lifeless mixture.
Human being would indeed disappear if the aggregates that compose it (60% of water and 0.00000081 % of
sodium) suddenly dissociated from each other.
By reducing the object of study to the simple level of studying it from a precise disciplinary viewpoint, scholars
are likely to lose that very object which they set to study. A single bidimensional layer cannot contain and does
not allow for complexity. The human being is a complex unit, who is not representable otherwise, nor is he
reducible to numbers and percentages, and he cannot be defined by a linear logic. The human being is a relational
being, continuously recreated engaging with the living world, a present indissoluble unit of genetic and cultural
inheritances, which are shaped by personal experiences.
The study of man-sodium relationship reveals the need for a different approach, not a mixture of scientifically
correct percentages and values, but a complex system from which new and unpredictable properties can finally
“Sapientia” and Salt
Andrea Zuppi, Michele Zuppi, Paolo Zuppi, Elisabetta Rossi
The intake of sodium is essential to life. The daily requirement for a human being is of 230–460 mg / day,
corresponding to less than 1.5 g of sodium chloride, the common kitchen salt. The amount of salt present in
natural foods is modest. The human being is endowed with cognitive systems that lead to the assumption of salt
and to an endocrine/renal regulation which tends to avoid losses.
In industrialized countries, the daily salt intake is around 10 grams per day; this excessive intake causes high
blood pressure and thus cardiovascular diseases. State governments try to reduce this excessive intake by
promulgating laws and promoting information campaigns.
The powerful mechanisms of survival in an environment low in salt, under current conditions, lead to an
excessive inflow of sodium. The ancient "divina sapientia humani corporis" (sapientia etymology: to
have taste) has become disadvantageous in the new modern world built by human beings. The physiological
homeostatic mechanisms, adjusted to the minimum amount of salt present in natural foods, lead to salt abuse
and fail to counter its effects. The exaggerated salt content in processed foods, requires a mind control based on
A clear and concrete separation between different types of wisdom is here at play. The mind/body dichotomy
is expressed in orthorexia: food is a poison that only the mind can recognize.
“Nova sapientia” harmonizing corporal, cultural, technical and institutional knowledge, need to be developed.
The Role of Salt in the Fame and Prosperity of Ancient Pompeii
Ralph M. Rowlett
Ancient Pompeii, covered over with volcanic debris in A.D. 79, is renowned for its many art works, the
sumptuous residences in Northwest Pompeii, its gladiatorial excesses, salacious erotica, and even its garum fish
sauce, but its close relationship with salt ecology is not widely appreciated. Relatively few of the
modern voluminous books about Pompeii even mention salt and its contribution to the prosperity and fame of
Pompeii. But salt was an essential ingredient in the preparation of the garum, which underlay both the ancient
fame and prosperity of the doomed city. The most sumptuous residences of the city lay in the Northwest
quadrant, Regio VI, toward the Porta Herculaneum. This ward was assigned to the urban "Tribe" of the
Salinienses. Herewith we elaborate on the significance of salt in ancient Pompeii and impending archaeological
An Insight into the Use of Salt in the Aboriginal Culture in Australia
Tasha Vasiliki Athena Maroulis
In ancient times, salt (or the lack of it) could drastically affect the health of an entire population of species.
This important element is habitual for animals and humans equally. The process of obtaining salt from around the
world differs according to the local conditions (climate, soils, and water). Trade in salt was very important, and
salt was valuable enough to be used as currency in some areas (Roman Empire). As civilisation spread, salt
became one of the world's principal trading commodities and is still used on a large scale to this day. Some first
European explorers organised Aboriginal hunts and when caught, they were chained by the neck and fed salt to
get them to show the explorer where the waterholes were, which they would then access and exploit. Some
research conducted in the early 90’s suggested that salt had no part in the aboriginal culture. Recent research has
shown that salt had an important part of the aboriginal’s diet, though they did not have to extract it from water
or ground rock; it was naturally occurring in salt flats of desert regions, salt was also readily available and
collected from a variety of different parts of the plant. Examples being the leaves of sodium-rich Karkalla or
Native Pigface (Carpobrotus rossii) which were roasted and eaten. Certain Rushes and Sedges contained
reasonable amounts of sodium, as well as the seeds from the Golden Grevillea (Grevillea chrysophaea), an
assortment of figs, Nonda Plum (Parinari nonda), and Bush Tomato (Solanum central). Water Chestnuts
(Eleocharis dulcis) contained more than 4500 mg of sodium/100 grams. Animal foods were also an important part
for supplying sodium, especially blood and certain organ meats (goanna, shellfish, snails and worms). Different
aboriginal tribes as the Kaurna people would trade large rafts of the salty plant Karkalla or Native Pigface
(Carpobrotus rossii) from the coastal dunes with the Peramangk people of the Mt Lofty Ranges in return for Red
Ochre (used for Aboriginal Rock Art), as naturally occurring salt plants are in low supply in the Mt Lofty Ranges,
and Ochre is rare on the plains/coast.
The Use of Salt in Mongolia. An Example of Mogod Region (Bulgan Aimag)
Pastoral nomadism is a multi-millennial culture, a treasure of mankind, which can help us better understand
the past and present, and even to build a sustainable future. Pastoral nomadism is still a fundamental part
of Mongolian economy, even though it is critically threatened by cultural and economic changes.
Mongolian pastoral nomadism is a complex world. Many features, such as pasture areas water sources, dogs,
herd management and salt are undoubtedly crucial for the survival of animals and nomads and are indispensable
for its existence. Similarly, the abundant availability of salt certainly allowed the spread of nomadic pastoralism in
Mongolia in prehistoric times.
In 2002, the Italian Association for Ethnoarchaeology, with the financial support of the Italian Ministry of
Foreign Affairs, and in collaboration with Prof. Dulam of the National University of Ulaanbaatar, began an
ethnoarchaeological project concerning nomadic camps in different regions. Since 2009, the project has especially
concerned winter and spring camps in the Mogod region (Bulgan aimag). The cold season’s camps are usually
fixed camps, frequently located in the mountains and can be owned by one family who returns every year to the
same camp, therefore their study is also very important in the archaeological perspective.
The ethnoarchaeological project documented locations of roaming, camps and resources in the Mogod area.
The data relating to salt supplying and its use for animals is interesting in order to better understand the salt
world and even the economic dynamics of Mogod and Mongolian nomadism, both past and present.
The pastures locations are dependent on a safe, secure and abundant salt supply. In summer and autumn,
when the camps are located in the valleys, livestock can usually obtain salt by drinking directly from the nearby
salty rivers and lakes or by eating the salty grass which grows around them. But for the winter and spring months
nomads usually create salt-licks by carrying the salt to the camps at the beginning of each season.
It is also important to remember that from the 15th century Mongolia has been crossed by caravans of
Russian, Kazakh and Mongolian/Chinese traders, who also carried salt from the West to the East. This "salt
road" was interrupted in the 1920's as an aftereffect of the communist revolution.
Some nomads still remember the ‘salt road’ and its importance.
Salt, History and Culture among the Western Grasslanders of Cameroon
Henry Kam Kah
This paper examines the socio-cultural value of salt among the people of the western grasslands of Cameroon
from the pre-colonial era to contemporary times. Salt was and has remained an important condiment used in
households, in marriage, treatment of the sick, and in initiation ceremonies and other cultural ceremonies. It was
a priceless and rare commodity in the past and explains the high value that was attached to it by all and sundry.
Young people travelled very long distances on foot for days and weeks to sell other commodities like kernels and
mats and then buy this condiment. Mainly important notables stored it in locally made containers. Salt is
somehow in abundance today and one does not need to travel very long distances to procure it. Many njangi or
local spent thrift societies buy and distribute it to their members during the end of year festivities like Christmas
and New Year. Family heads also keep and share out salt to their kith and kin whenever the need arises. Through
a content analysis of existing literature, interviews and observations, this paper probes into the history and
cultural meanings and uses attached to this important condiment in a region of Cameroon known for its very rich
and diverse cultural practices.
Unity of Sacred and Profane in Traditional Salt Industry of the Okposi Igbo of South-Eastern Nigeria
An important rite of passage for a woman in Okposi, a community of the Igbo of south-eastern districts of
Nigeria was the establishment of a family salt industry, which she afterwards takes charge of. Salt making is an all-
woman affair that excludes men, and unmarried women. No one knows the exact date that this industry began.
Literacy is relatively nascent here, dating back to only late 1920s. What is clear is that social and economic life
here is traditionally intertwined with the indigenously produced salt. The community’s cognomen reflects this
fact. It is called Okposi, Epa na-esi Mmahí (Okposi, They that Make Salt). The industry has its shrine where male
priests officiate but cannot themselves make the salt. Besides economics, the aspects of social life that are
traditionally mediated by this industry include religion, chronometry, and marriage rites. For the anthropologist,
adaptations of the salt customs in reaction to social change in the Nigerian nation-state and the global community
may provide insight into morphology of culture in general. During the World War II when the import of salt was
disrupted in the British colony, the colonial authorities turned to the Okposi local salt. The customary industry’s
reaction to nation-state’s needs was even more pronounced during the Nigerian civil war when the lack for the
rest of the Biafran side was all the more acute. But with the direct pressure of globalisation, the industry has now
seriously declined in preference to imported salt. Decline in the industry was only possible after demonization of
the indigenous culture as inferior and retrogressive, and the concomitant projection of the Western-style
practices as modern and desirable. I relied on participant observation of the complete participant variety to
conduct the study, which has spanned 10 years from 2005 to 2015.
Two Examples of Unusual Uses of Salt in Romania
In the Govora rural areas, many people bring home lumps of salt. On the bottom of an “unclean” tub, the
people place hay and flowers up to the knee level, on top of which they pour warm water heated in the house.
After this, they heat the darkest lumps of salt with earth/minerals. These lumps of salt are heated on a large
tractor rim (from the rear wheel) with the top covered by a metal sheet on which they put sand and pebbles.
Underneath the rim they start a fire. They heat the sand until it is scorched, until it is hot. Then they place the
lumps of salt on the metal plate and they totally cover them with hot sand and keep them there for about half an
hour. Then, using iron clamps with long handles in order to avoid the scorching heat of the lumps, they are taken
while very hot and placed in the warm water. The lumps of salt mutter until they cool down, which accelerates
the melting of the salt, releasing gases that produce ionization. Water temperature is around 42 degrees Celsius,
and its measurement is done using the elbow, which is most sensitive to temperature variations. People who can
bear this temperature enter the water for as many 10–15 minutes rounds as they can take. If the temperature
drops, they place more heated lumps of salt. There are some homes which have two tubs, but only at a household
level, especially for the elderly. The salt baths are taken especially on Saturdays, when, as is traditional in the rural
areas of Romania, the general washing and cleaning is done. After people get out of the tub, they wash
themselves with fresh water in order to clean their skin from salt.
Following a decree-law after the change of the political regime in Romania in 1989, commercial added value
was limited to a maximum of 30% compared to the price of the producers, in order to stop speculation. This
regulation caused a shortage of salt, because salt boulders were very cheap straight out of the mine, but their
transport to customers situated at large distances was difficult and expensive. At the same time, usual crushed
salt was available commercially. In the Vaslui county, on the Prut riverbank, in the village of Lunca Banului, this
situation caused an unusual reaction. Thus, during the summer time, animal breeders bought dry poplar wood,
which, because it was porous, had the property of absorbing water. They then boiled water in which they poured
commercial crushed salt, continuously stirring the water in order to speed up the dissolution and to obtain the
largest possible concentration of salt. In the thus obtained brine they also placed ashes and lime in order to
disinfect the mouth of the animals and to complete their necessity of calcium and other minerals. The dry poplar
wood with a length of max. 1 m. were placed in feeders which were filled with the salt water, and in order to stay
on the bottom for 3 to 6 days, stones were placed on top of them. The wood soaked in brine after which it was
removed from the brine and taken to the fields, in areas that were frequently passed by flocks of sheep and cows.
The wood was placed on two stone or wood mounts so as not to draw moisture from the soil, which would cause
the salt to melt. The animals licked the top of the wood, and then the shepherd were careful to turn the wood
over so that the lower part of it could also be licked.
Salt and Shell-tempered Pottery in European Prehistory
Ralph M. Rowlett
Shell tempered pottery was widely produced and used by both European and North American prehistoric
peoples, especially but not uniquely, among those with a Neolithic technology. What is not so widely known is
that the successful production of shell tempered pottery requires the addition of salt to the inventory of shell and
pottery clay. In North America, shell tempered pottery dominated the ceramic inventories of many archetypical
eastern North American Indians in late prehistoric times, from ca. 800 bc to AD 1600, but modern North America
archaeologists tend to use the pervasive shell-tempered pottery as a chronological and ethnic marker. In Europe
the salt demanding shell tempered
pottery was made for a much long longer time from ca. 5,000 bc the end of
the barbarians Iron Age, but since the European shell tempered pottery tradition accompanied the manufacture
of ceramics with other kinds of tempering, it can be seen from archaeological assemblages that the shell
tempered pottery was used primarily for cooking. Since salt is notoriously easily water soluble, populations that
cooked in shell tempered pottery may have ingested some of their salt from the cooking as well as for flavoring
and for food preservation. Wheel-made shell tempered pottery places considerable stress on the finger tips.
Formation of the Prehistoric Urban Centre Provadia-Solnitsata
The expanding scope of field studies on Provadia-Solnitsata allows this exceptional archaeological complex to
be seen from a new perspective; an opportunity is created for its more detailed interpretation within the context
of issues related to the emergence of the first urban centres in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Specialized salt production was the major economic activity whose results became a prerequisite for the
development of Provadia-Solnitsata as a central place of special socio-economic significance in the Eastern
Balkans. It started as early as the beginning of the Late Neolithic though only as a household craft practiced in the
settlement. At the end of the Late Neolithic salt evaporation became a specialized production which was moved
outside the settlement and most probably was run as a cooperative. During the Middle and Late Chalcolithic it
evolved into an industrial-scale production which would have been impossible without the formation of several
specialized groups consisting of separate teams working in a well-coordinated way. These groups of specialized
workers were engaged in the collection and delivery of firewood, manufacturing and supply of pottery vessels as
well as in the process of salt production itself. All that would have been unthinkable without major technological
steps taken in all three core production branches, especially in the thermal technologies related to ceramic
production and brine evaporation. The emergence of specialized production was an indicator of the second major
division of labour, which in turn was a prerequisite for the emergence of towns. In this sense the specialized salt
production makes the agglomeration Provadia-Solnitsata a unique phenomenon on the old continent.
The specialized salt production and the successful long-distance trade in that product which was vital for both
people and animals, transformed the Chalcolithic complex Provadia-Solnitsata into a prehistoric urban centre
which existed during the middle and second half of the 5th mill. BC.
Archaeological Research in the Salt Springs Area of Lunca and Oglinzi (Neamț County, Romania)
North from Târgu Neamț, on the north-western slope of the Pleșului Crest, there is an important salt deposit,
highlighted by several salt springs. Around some of them, there are three of the most consistent archaeological
deposits in the east of Romania, very interesting from a scientific perspective.
The research of the Lunca-Poiana Slatinei site represented an important moment in the history of research on
salt. The excavations begun in 1983 have revealed a site with numerous archaeological levels belonging to pre-
historical cultures and to civilizations that are more recent. It is situated near the salt spring, still used nowadays.
During the excavations, carried out with interruptions between 1983 and 2005, three archaeological zones have been
highlighted. Zone A, the most important one, consisted of an elongated mound (60 m long, 25 m wide, and maximum
3 m high).
The artificial mound was made of pre- and proto-historical archaeological vestiges, but also of vestiges dating to
the first millennium BCE, and the 10th-12th, 16th-17th, and 19th centuries. Following the excavations, the researchers
who visited the site were surprised by the 2.65-m thickness of the Starčevo-Criș deposit, made of successive layers of
burned soils, ashes, carbons, and pottery shards. The traces of pseudo-hearths did not feature the typical structures
of Neolithic hearths. In the Starčevo-Criș deposits, no structure of habitation, tool, figurine, grindstone, or animal
bone has been discovered. The amount of Starčevo-Criș pottery found is impressive, though the excavated surface is
quite limited. All the pottery discovered was fragmented and the wide-mouthed pots, which may have been used for
boiling the brine, were rather numerous. Small vessels and goblets (some of which were decorated with incisions or
even painted) were also discovered. The absence of habitat and tool traces, the unusually important amount of ashes
and wood carbons, the characteristics of zone A pottery, as well as the absence (on a 4-5-km radius) of fields fit for
agriculture have determined the participants to excavations to believe that the Poiana Slatinei site was a seasonal site
was used for the extraction of brine from salt springs. Concerning the Starčevo-Criș pottery inventory, the presence of
fine pottery – that seems abnormal in the Lunca context – is yet to be elucidated.
Fig. 1. Lunca-Poiana Slatinei. Stratigraphic layer of the Starčevo-Criș deposits (zone A).
Furthermore, research has revealed, in zone A, the presence of Precucuteni culture, Bronze Age, and Canlia
culture deposits (5th-3rd centuries BCE), as well as sporadic vestiges pertaining to the cultures of Cucuteni, of
free Dacians (2nd-3rd centuries CE), Sântana de Mureș (4th century CE), and of more recent periods. It is worth
underscoring that, in the impressive Starčevo-Criș deposit within zone A and in the more recent deposits, no
briquetage fragment has been discovered.
Zone B is situated on the Poiana Slatinei slope, approximately 50-60 m northeast from the salt source. In this
place, too, the important Starčevo-Criș deposits make up the oldest level. The deposits comprising piles of pottery
shards, of burned sediments, of wood carbons, and of hearth vestiges are situated between -2.70 and -1.90 m.
The author of the excavations posits that the hearth vestiges in this zone are different from the pseudo-hearths in
zone A, and that the highly corroded pottery shards belong to thick and flat bottoms of globular containers,
truncated cones, and goblets. Though the amount of harvested pottery is significant, no briquetage or stone tool
fragment has been pinpointed.
In the layer situated between -1.90 and -1.80 m, certain pottery shards can be ascribed to the LBK culture. The
subsequent layer – situated between -1.75 and -1.45 m – includes Precucuteni III pottery shards, in its turn
overlapped by a layer comprising Cucuteni A and A-B pottery shards, the last of which are scarce. We mention
that the last layer contains Cucuteni B fragments and numerous Cucuteni C fragments. Only in the last layer,
situated between -0.35 and -1.40 m, 420 briquetage fragments were found; they represented 16% of the entire
Finally, the last surface examined – called zone C – is situated southeast from the salt source; this is a 65-cm
thick archaeological deposit, which comprised vestiges of the Dacian La Tène and of the Canlia culture.
We have insisted on the stratigraphy of the Lunca-Poiana Slatinei site because it clarifies the chronological
position of briquetage, which belongs mostly to the Cucuteni B phase. After the end of the Cucuteni culture, the
briquetage does not seem to have been used anymore.
The research conducted in the Neamț County was not limited to the site of Lunca, but it has integrated a
rather large area, up to the river of Moldova and to the city of Târgu Neamț. Among the discoveries made
there, we mention six salt sources, 24 pre-historical sites (most of them pertaining to Precucuteni and
Cucuteni, though there were also Starčevo-Criș deposits, Bronze Age deposits, and deposits belonging to more
The Oglinzi-Cetățuia site, situated only 1 km away from Poiana Slatinei, presents a particular interest. From
the Cetățuia hill plateau, it was possible to monitor the micro-depression of Oglinzi, a part of the Moldova River
corridor, and even a part of the Tg. Neamț depression. The plateau provides excellent conditions for monitoring
the salt sources of Poiana Slatinei, Slătior, and Sărături. Certain trial excavations have highlighted the existence
of habitations pertaining to the Cucuteni A phase, as well as fragments dating to Bronze Age and, probably, to
the Starčevo-Criș culture. Protected by the abrupt slopes of the hill, the Cucuteni A site of Cetățuia represented
an excellent point for monitoring the surrounding salt sources. It was also a refuge for the inhabitants of open
habitats. The vestiges discovered seem to suggest an ordinary Cucuteni site, though some briquetage
fragments were also found. The site seems to have preserved its importance during the Bronze Age, (including
the excavation of a defence trench in the southern corner of the plateau).
In the same micro-zone, two other pre-historical sites situated near the salt sources were discovered. The Oglinzi-Băi
locality is situated south from the micro-
depression of Oglinzi and at the foot Pleșului Crest. The salt source, captured in
the 19th century for a balneary resort, was used until 1944, when it was closed down. The first site, Oglinzi-Băi I, is situated
approximately 30 m south from the salt source. One of the excavated trenches showed an interesting stratigraphy.
Around 1.10 m deep, a layer of brown soil contained wood carbons and small indeterminable pottery shards. This layer is
overlapped by a Precucuteni II level, which ended at -0.60 m.
The second site – Oglinzi-Băi II – was identified approximately 100 m from the area comprising Precucuteni
deposits. The trial excavations revealed the Starčevo-Criș culture in a 50-cm thick layer, where numerous
corroded pottery shards, ashes, and carbons were discovered. The ceramic forms and the decoration are typical
to the Starčevo-Criș culture, similar to the ones discovered at Poiana Slatinei. No briquetage fragments were
discovered in either of the two sites.
The research conducted at Lunca-Poiana Slatinei, Oglinzi-Cetățuia, and Băi brought precious information concerning
the seasonal pre-historical sites specialized in the obtaining of salt from salt sources, as well as the emergence of a
particular ceramic form used for salt crystallization. The excavations at Lunca have shown that briquetage was an
invention of the Cucuteni tribes during the last development phases of this culture. An equally important aspect is the
surprising association of the Cucuteni C culture with the salt crystallization activity and with briquetage use. The massive
presence of the Cucuteni C phase, generally ascribed to steppe shepherds populations, suggests the existence of
exchanges between the salt-deprived populations and those within the saliferous region of Moldavia. Even before the
radiocarbon dating and independently from the salt crystallization method, it was apparent that the site of Lunca was
one of the oldest salt exploitations in Europe.
The interesting discoveries made in the Lunca-Oglinzi micro-zone have stirred the attention of foreign
researchers. Starting with 1995, Olivier Weller came to visit the sites, and then he analysed the salt springs and
studied the archaeological material within his doctoral dissertation on salt exploitation. Several years later, John
Chapman proposed a collaboration for investigating the micro-zones of Lunca-Oglinzi and Poduri. In 2000, an
English team led by J. Chapman conducted a geomagnetic survey for the zone B of Lunca. In 2002, the same
researcher conducted two small test excavations in the zones investigated from a geomagnetic perspective.
Meanwhile, Olivier Weller participated to the excavations at Lunca, before coming back in 2004 along with a team
of specialists, for studying the exploitation techniques and their impacts on the environment, and for dating these
exploitations accurately. The nine AMS C14 datings have allowed placing the Starčevo-Criș levels between 6050
and 5500 BCE, thus confirming Lunca as the oldest salt exploitation in Europe and maybe worldwide.
The excavations at Lunca have more or less ended, but the abundant archaeological material harvested will be
further investigated; the paleoenvironmental analyses (wood carbons, ashes, soils, and pollen) will also be
Alexianu, M., Dumitroaia, Gh., 1990. Découvertes gètes récentes concernant l’aspect culturel Canlia dans le
dép. de Neamț. Thraco-Dacica, XI, p. 125-133.
Alexianu M., Dumitroaia, Gh., Monah, D., 1992. Exploatarea surselor de apă sărată din Moldova: o abordare
etnoarheologică. Thraco-Dacica, XIII/1-2, p. 159-167.
Chapman, J., Monah, D., Dumitroaia, Gh., Armstrong, H., Millard, A., Francis, M., 2000. – The Exploitation of
Salt in the Prehistory of Moldavia, Romania. Archaeological Reports 1999/2000, 23, University of Durham and
University of Newcastle upon Tyne, p. 10-20.
Dumitroaia, Gh., 1987. La site archéologique de Lunca-Poiana Slatinii. In: M. PETRESCU-DÎMBOVIȚA et al.,
(eds.), La civilisation de Cucuteni en contexte européen, BAI, I, Iași, p. 235-258.
Dumitroaia, Gh., 1994. Depunerile neo-eneolitice de la Lunca și Oglinzi, județul Neamț. Memoria Antiquitatis,
XIX, p. 7-82.
Dumitroaia, Gh., 2000. Comunități preistorice din nord-estul României. De la cultura Cucuteni până la bronzul
mijlociu, BMA, VII, Piatra-Neamț.
Dumitroaia, Gh, Munteanu, R., Nicola, D., Preoteasa, C., Monah, D., Chapman, J., Weller, O., 2003. Lunca,
com. Vânători-Neamț, jud. Neamț. Punct: Poiana Slatinii. Cronica cercetărilor arheologice din România. Campania
2002, București, p. 183-184.
Monah, D., Dumitroaia, Gh., 2007. Recherches sur l’exploitation prehistorique du sel en Roumanie, in Monah,
D., Dumitroaia, Gh., Weller, O., Chapman, J, L’exploitation du sel à travers le temps, Piatra-Neamț, 2007, p. 13-35.
Weller O., Dumitroaia Gh., 2005. The earliest salt production in the world: an early Neolithic exploitation in
Poiana Slatinii-Lunca, Romania. Antiquity, 79 (306), p. 11-18. Online: antiquity.ac.uk/projgall/weller
The Vall Salina: More than 6500 Years of Halite Exploitation. Cardona, the Salt of History
Alfons Fíguls, Olivier Weller, Thomas Xaver Schuhmacher, Mireia Martínez,
Ainhoa Pancorbo, Raül Segarra, Rosa M. Lanaspa, Marc Cots, Aitor Henestrosa
This paper is a synthesis of the work done in the Vall Salina, especially the excavations in 2007 and 2008,
which shows that the exploitation of the salt of Cardona has been uninterrupted since 6500 years from the
Neolithic today. This work is the result of the participation of archaeologists, historians, geologists, geographers,
biologists, physicists and architects.
The Vall Salina is located in the town of Cardona (Catalonia), a space of almost 2 km long and 0.2 to 0.7 km
wide. The valley has an “orient” from southeast to northwest.
It is located between the Castle and the village to the north and the “la Serra de la Sal” in the South. In the
southwest is located the diapir of the salt mountain. This diapir is unique in all Western Europe.
The outdoors exploitation (terraces exploitation system) was the system that was used until the early
twentieth century, when started the underground exploitation (exploitation wells and galleries). In this paper, we
analyse the evolution of the production system running from exploitation of common property resources 6500
years ago to a controlled operation from the final Neolithic-Chalcolithic.
Briquetage in Cucuteni Settlements from Moldavia (Romania)
Gheorghe Dumitroaia, Vasile Diaconu, Ciprian-Dorin Nicola
Briquetage are clay-made recipients used during the prehistory in order to obtain salt cakes through salty
water’s evaporation. These recipients, discovered in fragments, largely emerge from the settlements linked to
salty waters exploitation, such as those from Lunca, Țolici, Gârcina, Cucuieți and Cacica.
Within several Cucuteni settlements from the Subcarpathian area of Moldavia there have been discovered
fragments of briquetage, namely in the settlements from Adâncata (Suceava county), Negritești (Neamț county),
Petricani (Neamț county), Răucești (Neamț county) and Săcălușești (Neamț county). The above mentioned
settlements belong to all the three stages of evolution of the Cucuteni culture. In the same time, one can but
notice that in the great majority of cases, these briquetage show themselves in settlements closely related to salt
water resources. The distance between these objectives ranges from 1 to 7 km; the sole exception regards the
settlement from Adâncata, situated 40 km from the most important salt water resources. We should underline
the fact that the Cucuteni settlements where these briquetage were identified are all situated within the
hydrographic basin of several important rivers such as Siret, Moldova and Bistrița.
The fragmenting of the briquetage was explained by the necessity of obtaining the salt cakes, which could
have been later transported to long distances. The mere fact that in some Cucuteni settlements were discovered
briquetage, could serve as an argument to the idea that those communities knew and controlled certain salt
resources. It can also be implied that those communities served as centres for resources redistribution.
The “Vall Salina” of Cardona and the Role of Salt in the Exchange Network
during the Middle Neolithic (4500–3500 BC) in Catalonia
Alfons Fíguls, Olivier Weller, Fidel Grandia
As a consequence of our study on the only salt-mountain mining in western Europe, we present the results
obtained for the first European mine salt exploitation, at Cardona’s “Muntanya de sal”. Moreover we focus our
study on the role of the salt in the exchange of different Middle Neolithic material and specific values. As such, we
analyse the origins and the distribution of different raw materials and products in order to reconstruct the
exchanges of other worthy values (variscite pearls, shells bracelets) and other exogenous materials (alpine axes,
blond flint, etc.). Crossing the information, it is possible to evaluate the salt socio-economic role in the
intercommunity exchanges and to propose a dynamic model of circulation with privileged axes of exchanges and
key regions like Solsonià and Vallès.
Settlement Density around Salt Springs from Solca and Cacica
(Northeastern Romania) during the Neolithic and Chalcolithic
The paper presents a number of methodological aspects, based on GIS (Geographic Information
System) applications, useful in complex studies of prehistoric economies, or, more specifically, of subsistence
strategies employed by prehistoric agrarian communities. The study provides arguments for the existence of
an economic potential in the sub-Carpathian areas (Solca-Cacica microzone) applying, by means of landscape
analyses, the radial model of salt supply elaborated by M. Alexianu for the prehistoric settlements from
this area. Relying on a series of case studies, the main natural resources available in the area were identified,
with a focus on the salt springs, which undoubtedly played a key role and should be considered a decisive
factor in selecting the occupation areas. Directly related to this, density and statistical analysis were
provided. For the sub-Carpathian area of Romania, the ethnoarchaeological investigations conducted
recently as part of two research projects, alongside the archaeological researches performed throughout
time, interpreted conjointly in a GIS environment, support the hypotheses regarding the archaeological
potential of the area directly conditioned by the presence of salt resources.
Archaeological Approaches of Salted Areas from Northeastern Romania
Ionuț Cristi Nicu, Andrei Asăndulesei, Gheorghe Romanescu, Alin Mihu-Pintilie, Vasile Cotiugă
The present relief of this region is overlaying upon clays, sandy marls and oolithic limestones. In the past (5-7
million years ago, starting from Miocene), the area was covered by Sarmatic Sea, which gradually has withdrawn
to the south-east. Based on regression of Sarmatic Sea, salt deposits, retained in sedimentary rocks, were formed.
The geological and hydrogeological conditions of the area are the main triggering factors of the emergence of salt
and sulphurous springs, which were used by the Neolithic populations. Due to climate changes, especially during
the summer, when the evapotranspiration is high, the groundwater level is at shallow depths (< 3 m), the soil salt
content comes to surface by capillarity forming salty areas (Rmn. chelituri). Within the Valea Oii river basin, after
analyzing the map of parent material, it can be observed that there is a high concentration of prehistoric
settlements around salty deposits (that occupies 1% of the total surface of the catchment of 98 km2); this proves
that they were used by the population. An interesting point of interest in the basin is at Balș (Arcaci), representing
an old salty spring located on the left side of the valley.
The toponym Arcaci is of Turkish origin, referring to a paddock of circular shape for the sheep, which probably
refers to the fact that the sheep could easily be gathered in this place to satisfy their needs by consuming
halophyte plants (Suaeda maritima, Salicornia herbaceea) that grow here, or just lick the salted soil surface. Thus,
the location of the sheepfolds in the proximity of these areas has a local economic importance, because the
commercialization of salt is no longer needed. This is an eloquent example of how the salty areas are being used
along the Prehistory since present.
Tyrawa Solna. Salt, Settlements and a Magnetometer Survey
Along the Lower Course of the Tyrawka River (SE-Poland)
Maciej Dębiec, Thomas Saile
The landscapes on both sides of the lower course of the Tyrawka River, a tributary of the San, cannot be
regarded as favourable for settlement. Nevertheless, a dense concentration of archaeological sites has been
recorded. A reason for this observation might be seen in the local deposits of salt and copper, exploitation of
which would have compensated the environmental disadvantages. Magnetometer survey has been conducted on
part of a Linienbandkeramik, Bronze Age and Early Medieval settlement site close to one of the local salt springs.
Fig. 1. Settlement structures in the Tyrawka Valley. Star – salt well; triangle – bronze hoard; black points and
outlines – settlements and camp sites.
Brine Processing at the Beaker Site of Molino Sanchón II (Zamora, Spain): a Technological Approach
Elisa Guerra Doce, F.Javier Abarquero Moras, Germán Delibes de Castro
The Beaker site of Molino Sanchón II, located at the saline Lagoons of Villafáfila (Zamora, Spain), is interpreted
as a centre for salt production through the method of brine boiling. Theoretically, the procedure might have
involved the following stages: (1) Brine was poured into coarse ceramic vessels placed over fires; (2) the resulting
salt paste was transferred to smaller ceramic moulds placed on clay pedestals which stand over a hearth of
glowing embers; and (3) finally, those moulds were broken open in order to obtain hard and transportable salt
cakes. However a detailed analysis of the ceramic assemblage has shown that small containers representative of
stage 3 are quite exceptional at Molino Sanchón II. Alternative procedures are discussed in this paper. The
function of Beaker pottery at this site, one of the most abundant collections known in Iberia, is also assessed
Unique Cucutenian Artefacts Related to Salt Recrystallization
Gheorghe Dumitroaia, Constantin Preoteasa, Ciprian-Dorin Nicola
The study presents a series of ladle-shaped artefacts that are so far unique in Cucutenian inventory, found in
the Cucuteni A2 (4450–4150 BC) layers of the Eneolithic tell from Poduri–Dealul Ghindaru (Romania), a site
located near several rich salt springs of the Moldavian Subcarpathians. The differences between these items and
classical Cucutenian ladles, their rarity, and their discovery in a site where salt played a major role, compels us to
associate them with salt recrystallization processes. Analogies can be made with a series of discoveries from
Provadia–Solnitsata (Bulgaria), a major centre of salt exploitation and capitalisation during the Neo-Eneolithic
Neolithic Territories and Salt Exploitation in Moldavia (Romania)
Robin Brigand, Olivier Weller
This paper presents the results of a spatial analysis project in Moldavia focused on the dynamics of salt
exploitation in the longue durée. Spatial and statistical measures are used to investigate the relationship between
salt resources distribution and settlement patterns from the Early Neolithic to Chalcolithic (6000–3500 BC). This
work combines methodologies used in landscape archaeology with the potential of the Geographic Information
System to mobilise archaeological artefacts in a large-scale setting and for many thematic purposes. The general
goal is to evaluate how salt resources were a driving factor for these farming groups of eastern Romania.
Sărata Monteoru: a Chalcolithic Site in a Saliferous Region
Cetățuia from Sărata Monteoru is one of the key sites for the understanding of the archaeological map of
eastern Romania during the Chalcolithic period. Contributing to this, on the one hand, is its location in an area of
convergence - the external line of the Curvature Subcarpathians, a region where several cultural phenomena such
as Gumelnița, Cucuteni and Cernavodă I are to be found during the Chalcolithic. On the other hand, the
chronological layout of the discoveries, towards the end Cucuteni culture, is repeatedly cited when discussing the
cultural processes and transformations that occur at the end of Chalcolithic.
The investigations from Sărata Monteoru regarding the Chalcolithic layers are old and briefly published. The
information is limited to a couple of sentences inserted into the excavation reports appeared in the 50s, which
refers to "a significant number of huts with their inventory” and the ceramics that would later be labelled
"Monteoru variant of the Cucuteni pottery". Most of the information and discoveries, however, remained
We review the archaeological materials from the collection of the Institute of Archaeology in Bucharest,
coming from the excavations conducted by the team led by Ion Nestor more than 70 years ago. The focus of our
study is the ceramics, especially the shell-tempered pottery.
As to the cultural development of the area, we emphasize both the existence of the mineral springs near the
site from Sărata Monteoru and the rich salt deposits of the Curvature Subcarpathians.
Acknowledgment. This research was funded through the "MINERVA - Cooperation for elite career in doctoral
and post-doctoral research" ID POSDRU 159 / 1.5 / S / 137832, with the financial support of the European Social
Fund through the Sectoral Operational Programme Human Resources Development 2007-2013.
Ceramic Management at the Salt Production Site during the
Early Bronze Age in the North Shandong, China
Questions about the salt production during the early Bronze Age in the North Shandong Region have been
examining the function, typology, and chronology of a certain type of ceramic vessels, the Kuixingqi (Helmet-
shaped vessel). To examine the salt production during the Late Shang and Western Zhou period, Chinese
archaeologists considered the interaction between the central power and activities of specialized production as
main issue of social control, without revealing the strategy on monopoly policy of salt and other prestige goods.
Salt workshops at the North Shandong area, would provide the outline of the salt production as social process,
which lead archaeologists to reconsider the concept and types of collaborations involved in the organization of
salt production. This research focuses on ceramic vessel management strategies in the organization of salt
production, that is, to analysis the social process of ceramic vessels within the salt workshops. It also provides
records of economic, socio-political activities under the processing of state formation during the period of early
Bonze Age in China.
The Bronze Age Salt Production Technologies in Transylvania and Maramureș
The Bronze Age salt production evidence includes various types of landscapes, sites, contexts, structures,
installations, tools and implements.
The earliest Bronze Age evidence for salt production in Transylvania dates from the late phase of the Early
Bronze Age (ca. 2400–2000 BC) and comes from the Băile Figa site in northeast Transylvania. Its archaeological
remains were distributed in the inferior valley of the salt stream above shallow rock salt deposit. To this horizon
of the site belongs a round pit dug in the rock salt with the brushed and textile imprinted pottery of so
Iernut-Zoltan type. The sites with the pottery of this kind are located in Transylvania and Oltenia exclusively in the
salt-rich zones. No other sites with similar pottery are known in northeast Transylvania. The most plausible
interpretation of the pit dug in the rock salt is that it was dug for accumulation of highly salt-concentrated brine.
The brine seems to have been evaporated in the ceramic pots. The obtained salt seems to have been intended to
the salt-poor areas.
The only salt production evidence from the Middle Bronze Age (ca. 2000–1600 BC) in Transylvania comes
from the Comănești site in the Homorod valley in eastern part of the province. It is located close to the brine
spring. The pottery belongs to the Wietenberg culture, and all shards come from coarse pots. It seems that salt in
this site was obtained by brine evaporation.
The number of salt production sites has significantly increased during the Late Bronze Age (ca. 1600/1500–
800/750 BC). 9 archaeological sites of this period with salt production evidence are known in Maramureș and
Transylvania: Solotvino and Valley of the Kings in Ukrainian Maramureș, Băile Figa, Săsarm, Caila, Valea Florilor,
Ocna Mureș in the northern half of Transylvania, Zoltan and Olteni in southeast Transylvania.
The sites in Maramureș and northern half of Transylvania expose a very complex and efficient technology of
rock salt mining and quarrying using a complex set of wooden structures (enclosures and fences), installations
(troughs and channeled pieces), tools (mining stone hammers, wooden sledge hammers, wedges, shovels, ladders
etc.). It seems that the main method to take rock salt in these sites during LBA was to drill it with jets of fresh
water and to crack it with wedges and hammers.
At the same time, in the salt poor southeast Transylvania in the Olteni and Zoltan sites, salt seems to have
been produced by evaporation of brackish water in ceramic massive pans.
Fig. 1. Băile Figa site, 2013. Wooden trough during the excavation.
Reddish Ollas and Production and Use of Salt: an Open Question
Tomaso Di Fraia
In the ninth decade of the 20th century, some Italian archaeologists (Pacciarelli 1991 and 1994, Menchelli and
Pasquinucci 1997 and 1999, Belardelli 1999) brought to the attention of the scientists some coastal sites
characterized by large deposits of ceramic materials, most of them consisting in reddish-orange ollas (ceramic
jars). The combination of containers coming from sites à briquetage of the Atlantic area and characterized by
some similar aspects (colour, relative crudeness of the paste and of the manufacturing technique, local
production) guided the interpretation of the Italian sites, made by the above mentioned scientists, as probable
places for production of salt and / or of activities related to the use of salt, even amongst many doubts (Di Fraia
and Secoli 2002; Di Fraia 2006, 2011).
After more than two decades though, few progresses were made in the study of this class of containers. In a
recent article (Aranguren et alii 2014), physical and chemical analyses would indicate that the characteristic
reddish colour could come from the way the vases were baked, although no traces of sodium chloride were found
on these materials. It is rather uncertain that this interpretation could explain the coloration of all the findings,
but if it was confirmed and if it could be broaden to other findings from other sites, one of the supposed
indicators of salt production would fall, that is the particular colour of the ceramics. On the other hand, it should
explain why this characteristic unites only particular coastal sites.
From this the need, in writer’s opinion, to:
- Analyze, for every site, the different types of reddish colour containers and the eventual examples of
different colours, checking if the reddish colour occurs also in tableware;
- Confront the results obtained from at least two or three sites with reddish ollas, partly at least
- Check, by scientific analyses and experimental tests, if the reddish color could (also?) come from the use
of containers or from particular postdepositional processes;
- Attentively study the different typologies of containers and check their feature based on ethnographical
comparisons and targeted experiments.
We will be able to have enough data for adequately justified interpretations only after conducting these
In the meantime, we have to limit ourselves to promoting some hypotheses that exploit at maximum the
characteristics of every complex of findings and of every site.
Aranguren B., Cinquegrana M. R., de Bonis A., Guarino V., Morra V., Pacciarelli M. 2014, Le strutture e lo
scarico di olle del Puntone Nuovo di Scarlino (GR) e i siti costieri specializzati della protostoria mediotirrenica.
Rivista di Scienze Preistoriche LXIV, pp. 227-258.
Belardelli C. 1999, Torre Valdaliga, in Peroni R., Rittatore Vonwiller L. (a cura di) Ferrante Vonwiller e la
Maremma, pp. 79-90.
di Fraia T. 2006, Produzione, circolazione e consumo del sale nella protostoria italiana:dati archeologici e
ipotesi di lavoro, in Materie prime e scambi nella preistoria italiana, Atti XXXVIX Riun. Sc. IIPP, vol. III, pp. 1639-
di Fraia T. 2011, Salt production and consumption in prehistory: towards a complex systems view, in Vianello
A. (a cura di) Exotica in the Prehistoric Mediterranean. Oxbow Books, Oxford, pp. 26-32.
di Fraia T., Secoli L. 2002, Il sito dell’età del bronzo di Isola di Coltano, in PPE Atti V, pp. 79-93.
Pacciarelli M. 1991, Territorio, insediamento, comunità in Etruria meridionale agli esordi del processo di
urbanizzazione. Scienze dell'Antichità 5, pp. 163-208.
Pacciarelli M. 1994, Sviluppi verso l’urbanizzazione nell’Italia tirrenica protostorica, in Gastaldi P., Maetzke G.
(a cura di), La presenza etrusca nella Campania meridionale, pp. 227-253.
Pasquinucci M., Menchelli S. 1997, Isola di Coltano (Coltano-PI), in Zanini A., a cura di, Dal Bronzo al ferro. Il II
millennio a.C. nella Toscana centro-occidentale, Pisa, pp. 49-53.
Pasquinucci M., Menchelli S. 1999, The landscape and economy of the territories of Pisae and Volaterrae (coastal North-
Etruria). Journal of Roman Archaeology 12, pp. 123-141.
Settlements, Micro-Regions and Natural Resources during the
Bronze Age in the Curvature Subcarpathians Area
Daniel Costache, Laurențiu Grigoraș
In the Subcarpathians (the area between the Buzău and Prahova rivers), the Bronze Age is represented by
Monteoru and Noua discoveries. Studying the dynamics of Bronze Age settlements was one of the main factors in
determining the spatial evolution of the cultural-archaeological phenomenon, and—as a working hypothesis—the
establishment of certain areas of economic interest to the human communities that have evolved in the
Although easily to be considered artificial, the distribution of the Monteoru culture settlements on
occupational-micro regions can serve as a starting point in analysing the organization, planning and use of
economical determinant for the type of economic activity. From each occupational micro-region we have
identified natural resources and economic opportunities. Resources like salt, amber, grassland and fishing founds
have long were exploited and in the same time secured. In an interesting way, even in Subcarpathians area we
could have made archaeological researches in salty areas, the cartography of the settlements show us increased
interest for those lands starting with Bronze Age. Because of that our paper represent an theoretical model for
analysing some occupational micro-regions.
Salt in the Bronze Age. An Overview of Subcarpathian Moldavia (Romania)
In Subcarpathian Moldavia (Eastern Romania),