Trade Information Brief: Spices

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Herbs and spices hold a special place in world trade. Emperors, kings, senators and the aristocracy of old made them the mostly highly prized commodity of ancient trade routes. The vibrant markets of Babylon and Petra amassed great fortunes by their proximity to the routes used by merchants. The spice trade was so important that it was a catalyst in many historical events, discoveries, wars, and inventions. It has even been cited as an important element in the spread of knowledge and culture. Some historians have suggested that the lucrative trade of spices was in large part responsible for many important developments in seafaring and navigation, and the exploration and discovery of many parts of the world, including South Africa. As The Economist (A Taste for Adventure, 1998) asserts, the history of spices is the history of trade.
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