Pepper is known for its spice value and medicinal value. Traders from the west came to India to purchase black pepper which was used for seasoning and medicines. Pepper was dried and powdered to prepare medicines and for seasoning. It was the most coveted wealth of ancient world.
Spice value of pepper
The black gold pepper has a unique flavor which added its medicinal value. It is used as a common spice in all South Indian cooking. Pepper cured most of the diseases. It was a well-known medicine for cold, cough and respiratory ailments. It was an important ingredient in all Ayurveda medicines for illnesses such as constipation, diarrhea, earache, gangrene, heart disease, hernia, hoarseness, indigestion, insect bites, insomnia, joint pain and liver problems. Black pepper is powdered and used as decoction even today in traditional Indian medicine and as a home remedy for relief from sore throat, throat congestion and cough.
Pepper in ancient world
The history of black pepper goes back even to pre-historic times. It was necessary for the western world to season their foods to be used in winter seasons. It was used even as currency in ancient days. Traders came from Egypt, Europe and China to collect pepper from South India. There were regular trade routes to promote pepper trade. Jews, Egyptians and Romans made colonies and settled in South India.
Egyptian mummies used Indian pepper
Ancient Egyptian records narrate how pepper was widely used in that country. Ancient manuscripts of Egypt say that black pepper was found stuffed in the nostrils of Ramesses II. The Egyptian Emperor’s dead body was mummified shortly after his death in 1213 BCE with various rituals involving pepper for mummification.
Mesopotamian influence on pepper
Archaeologists and historians say that the earliest known recipe said to be dated around 1700 B.C. was used for meat in spicy sauce with bread, details of which are found on tablets near Babylon in Mesopotamia. The text written in cuneiform was discovered by the Sumerians. This recipe is said to have used Indian spices, probably as an offering to the god Marduk.
Roman historians about Indian pepper
Roman historians such as Strabo and Pliny write about the pepper trade between India and the western world. There were sea routes as well as land routes carrying pepper from India. Marco Polo who visited the Malabar coast has written so many details about pepper trade. It was one of the main reasons to find out sea routs to India when the ancient route was blocked by the Turks in 15th century.
Pepper had been the treasure of India connecting east and west. Pepper connected the whole world. Pepper spread Indian wealth of knowledge in the west and paved way for many changes in history.