), a salt-work. The ancients
had many ways of procuring salt, of which Pliny, Plin. Nat. 31
. § § 73-92, gives a summary.
They were acquainted with rock-salt (Hdt.
; ἅλες ὀρυκτοί,
Arrian, Exped. Alex.
). They obtained salt also from
inland lakes (Hdt. 7.30
), from natural springs or
brine-pits (Cic. N. D. 2.5.
, 132), and from coasts where the sun dried it out of the sea-water
(as the ἅλες αὐτόματιο
at the mouth of
the Borysthenes: Hdt. 4.53
and Dio Chrys.
36; Pliny, l.c.
). But they
obtained their largest supplies from works constructed on the seashore where
it was adapted for the purpose by being low and easily overflowed by the
sea. In order to aid the natural evaporation, shallow rectangular ponds (the
of Rutil. Itin.
1.478) were dug, divided from one another by
earthen walls, and probably like the old salt-pans still visible on many
points of the English coast. The seawater was admitted by channels which
could be closed by sluices (CATARACTA; Rutil.
1.481). As the water flowed from one evaporating-pond to another, it became
more strongly impregnated with salt (Rutil. 1.475-490). When the brine began
at last to crystallise, the maker (salinator,
) raked out the salt and left it
to drain (Nicander, Alex.
519). Works of this kind gave the
name of Ἁλαὶ
to several places in Attica (Steph. Byz.; see Boeckh,
Staatshaushaltung der Athener,
1.126, ed. 3), Britain
(Ptol.), and elsewhere. Cato, Cat. Agr. 88
gives directions for further purifying common salt.
Brine made as above (coacto humore,
Plin. Nat. 31.73
) was called by the
by the Latins salsugo
and by the Spaniards muria
(Plin. Nat. 31.83
). It was used by the
Egyptians to pickle fish (Hdt. 2.77
), and by the
Romans to preserve olives, cheese, and meat (Cato, l.c.
). From muria,
which may be connected
“brine,” victuals cured in it were called salsa muriatica
Under Roman government salt-works were common public property, and were let
to the highest bidder. Ancus Martius is said to have established the first
salt-work at Ostia (Liv. 1.33
; Plin. Nat. 31.89
). In Liv. 2.9
(B.C. 508) we find the government interfering with the
price, and the sale of salt becoming a statemonopoly. In B.C. 204 (Liv. 29.37
) a new vectigal
was raised out of salt. Livy apparently means that a tax
was put on, in addition to the revenue derived from the manufacture, but he
is far from being clear. The price of salt was at the same time limited. The
(about a peck) was to be sold for a
at Rome; but dearer in other parts of
Italy, no doubt to cover the cost and risks of transport. In the provinces
salt-works were sometimes left to their former owners (persons or towns),
who had merely to pay Rome a fixed rent; but the commonest plan was to lease
them to publicani.
The Roman government seems
to have been anxious to keep the price of salt down; but still its monopoly
was maintained under the Empire (Cod. Just.