→Spread of Black Pepper
==Spread of Black Pepper==
Trade in black pepper seems to have expanded by the 4th century BCE, reaching the Aegean and Europe more frequently. Black pepper was used as a spice for food, in particular meat. Dried foods such as meat often lacked taste; pepper was seen as a way to make stored foods that were dried or salted more flavorful. This period represented some of the early developments of what would become the Silk Road, suggesting some of the trade in spices such as pepper and black pepper specifically would have come via this route. With the conquests of Alexander, Greek colonist were now reaching India and contacts became more common. The major turning point, however, was the knowledge of the monsoonal and climate patterns that affected the trade winds along the Indian Ocean by the end of the 1st century BCE. This open up new opportunities for direct sea voyaging between Europe and China via Egypt and the Red Sea, through land and sea routes, although an early version of the Suez Canal had also been developed by the Achaemenid period in the 5th century BCE. The connection via the seas also enabled China to now incorporate black pepper in its culinary diet, at least by the 2nd century BCE.
The knowledge of important trade winds, development of major empires stretching across Europe to China (there were only 4 major states between Britain and China in the 1st century CE), and increased contacts and movement of people in general now made pepper become commonly imported into Roman Europe. The Roman increasingly made pepper part of their diets, while its popularity also spread in the Near East and China. Traders in Arabia and Middle East probably played important roles as
middle men in the trade network. This not only made them wealthy but they likely continued to have a hold of this connection even after the fall of Rome. Both the Silk Road and connections via the Indian Ocean were now vital to this trade.