Christopher Columbus didn’t discover the Americas, he bumped into them while searching for spices. He was hunting for a trade route to the Far East to find cinnamon, cloves and pepper, which were as valuable as gold in 1492. Spices were also used to make breath fresheners, elixirs and ointments.

Why did Christopher Columbus want to find spices?

Columbus wanted to find a new route to India, China, Japan and the Spice Islands. If he could reach these lands, he would be able to bring back rich cargoes of silks and spices.

Why did explorers want spices?

But the world’s demand for spices grew throughout the Roman era and into the medieval period, defining economies from India to Europe. The mission was driven by a desire to find a direct route to the places where spices were plentiful and cheap, cutting out the middlemen.

Why were spices so important to the early settlers?

Spices were in great demand by Europeans. Before refrigeration, meat and fish spoiled quickly. To help preserve food and to improve its flavor, people used spices such as pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. These spices came from Asia.

Why were spices considered valuable for trade?

Arab traders controlled the spice trade between Europe and the East, like China, Indonesia, India and Ceylon (now Sri Lanka, my third stop), for almost 5,000 years until Europeans started looking for a new route to the Far East. Spices were so important because they helped mask the flavor of not-so-fresh food.

Did Christopher Columbus bring spices?

Columbus didn’t find what he was looking for, but he did encounter two new spices which forever changed cooking around the globe. He found chili and allspice – both of which he erroneously dubbed pimenta, or pepper, in his zeal to find peppercorns. Spices were also used to make breath fresheners, elixirs and ointments.

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Why was spice so valuable?

During the Middle Ages, spices were as valuable in Europe as gold and gems and the single most important force driving the world’s economy. The lack of refrigeration and poor standards of hygiene meant that food often spoiled quickly and spices were in great demand to mask the flavour of food that was far from fresh.

Why did Europeans want spices from America?

One of the major motivating factors in the European Age of Exploration was the search for direct access to the highly lucrative Eastern spice trade. In the 15th century, spices came to Europe via the Middle East land and sea routes, and spices were in huge demand both for food dishes and for use in medicines.

What were spices used for during the age of exploration?

Spices were used to camouflage bad flavors and odors, and for their health benefits. Spiced wines were also popular. European apothecaries used Asian spices (such as ginger, pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon, saffron, and cardamom) as well as garden herbs in their remedies and elixirs.

Why did the spice trade begin?

The spice trade began in the Middle East over 4,000 years ago. Arabic spice merchants would create a sense of mystery by withholding the origins of their wares, and would ensure high prices by telling fantastic tales about fighting off fierce winged creatures to reach spices growing high on cliff walls.

How did the spice trade impact the world?

Spices didn’t just make merchants rich across the globe — it established vast empires, revealed entire continents to Europeans and tipped the balance of world power. If the modern age has a definitive beginning, it was sparked by the spice trade, some historians have argued.

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What do spices do?

Spices are plant products used in flavoring foods and beverages. For thousands of years, aromatic plant materials have been used in food preparation and preservation, as well as for embalming, in areas where the plants are native, such as Hindustan and the Spice Islands (Govindarajan 1985, Dillon and Board 1994).

Why spice island is so important for European explorers?

Why were the Spice Islands important? Each trader made a profit and by the time the spices arrived in Venice (the chief point of trade contact between Europe and the East) they were often worth 1000% more than the original price paid for them in the Spice Islands.

Why were spices so expensive in Europe?

Because Europeans conquer many parts of the world, spices had been found from the homeland, and brought back to Europe. It was expensive because Italy and Egypt controlled the trade routes make spices cost more.

What spices were traded on the Silk Road?

Quite literally, they ‘spiced up’ the flavour of dishes. Although the spice routes truly flourished across the oceans, the overland route of the Silk Road still saw plenty of spices pass through. Clove, ginger, turmeric, nutmeg, frankincense, black pepper, cinnamon, and saffron all made their way west.

When was the spice trade?

In the 17th century, European nations started setting up trading posts in Asia and conquered islands and other territories. The United States began entering the spice trade in the 18th century. When spices became more widespread, their value started to fall.

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