The prehistoric exploitation of salt in Europe

Anthony Harding


The article considers the nature and extent of salt production in prehistoric Europe, in the light of recent fieldwork. The biological needs of humans and animals are described, as this might have determined the extent to which ancient communities sought out salt if they did not have access to it locally. Three main zones of production, utilising solar evaporation, briquetage, and a technique involving wooden troughs, are described; deep mining seems only to have occurred in the Austrian Alps. Lastly consideration is given to the effects of salt production within and between communities, bearing in mind the widely expressed view that in prehistory richness in salt led to richness in other goods.



salt; prehistoric Europe; biological need for salt; production techniques

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