History of black pepper
Ever since humans discovered how to plant, harvest, and grind pepper, the spice has been one of our most valuable commodities. Pepper was traded by ancient civilizations such as Greece, Rome, and India for precious metals that were worth more than gold. Today it is still a staple in many kitchens around the world.
This article also has some mention of early uses for black pepper: "The ancient Indians used pepper medicinally for dysentery, vomiting, intestinal parasites (helminthiasis), ophthalmia, nasal congestion and blindness due to eye infections." This is one-way people got their nutrition back then - by using what was readily available to them at the time to help treat or prevent illness. Black pepper wasn't only used by the ancient Romans or Greeks; people from all over the world have eaten black pepper since the beginning of time, and not just for its flavour. Black pepper is very good for you in many different ways besides adding flavour to food. It has been shown that black pepper helps blood sugar regulation (source), it contains antioxidants (source), and it even has anti-inflammatory properties (source).
"According to Pliny, 'the Indian bdellium' was brought from India to Alexandria in Egypt by Ptolemy Euergetes around 120 BC."
"The Sanskrit term for pepper is pippali, perhaps derived from the Tamil language. Pepper was a popular spice in ancient India, used widely by everyone except the poorest classes of people and domestic servants. Mashed into jaggery or cooked with rice, black pepper made food more digestible and palatable; it relieved intestinal putrefaction; it stimulated appetite and digestion; it warmed cold joints; it removed excess fat which caused indigestion."
Black Pepper is so named because its berries were thought to be shaped like peppercorns (Piper nigrum), appearing on a vine whose leaves resemble those of grape vines. Pepper can still be considered an aphrodisiac even today. Black pepper was used as a condiment for meat and fish dishes in ancient India, and it was "taken with milk or ghee (clarified butter) as part of a breakfast meal. Pepper is still used today by people all over the world for meals at breakfast, lunch, dinner, and even snacks throughout the day.
Black pepper is mentioned in the Bible several times as well. Pepper was a very valuable spice in biblical times, just like it is today.
"The Hebrew Bible mentions pepper 31 times." "Mount Ziph (named after the gold mines located there), on the south of Gilad and west of Ma'ale Amos was called 'the hill Horev', which means warm hill as alluvial deposits made it ideal for growing grains and fruits." It goes on to say that "the neighbourhood where Jesus grew up had many vineyards and carob trees – both products were used by local residents, who traded them with families from other parts of the country."Black pepper was a valuable and abundant resource for some people then, it would make sense that they would have had quality, fresh black pepper in their area. Pepper has always played an important role in the culinary world because it adds flavour to food without adding fat and calories to your meal.
Black Pepper was extensively traded throughout Asia during Biblical times. Although various estimates place India as the original source of Black Pepper, archaeological findings show that Somalia also had access to this spice." Pepper's main use for many cultures during biblical times besides its taste and used as currency was for its medicinal properties and health benefits. Black pepper has many health benefits still today, just like it did back then.
The Romans valued the pungency of pepper so much that they used it to season their wine. "The Roman naturalist Pliny the Elder (AD 23–79) praised the medical uses of pepper." It was not only used to spice food, but also may have been taken internally by those who believed in its curative powers for digestive ailments."
Black pepper was imported into Europe from India through the Middle East and as mentioned above, most likely first reached Europe during Homeric times.
Possibly as early as 43 AD, Athanasius of Alexandria had written on the subject of pepper. Pliny the Elder (compendium c. 50 AD) and Ptolemy's Geography (2nd century AD), both mention black pepper." This article also says that "The world's oldest existing pepper plant is believed to be over 1,600 years old – it can be found in Kolli Hills located in India." It also explains that "the first documented description of Piper nigrum is found in a Tamil language work written by Tholkappiyar" around 3000 BC."
Pepper was considered so valuable by some people back then that Roman Soldiers were even paid a portion of their salary in pepper. As you can see, black pepper has had a large influence on cultures and people from back then to the present day. From its medicinal uses to the diets of many people, including myself today, black pepper has been an important spice that is used by many throughout history and continues to be up until this day in our society as well.