Networks of Saltworks in the Mediterranean from Antiquity to the Early Modern Period

Sophia Zoumbaki, Maria Gerolymatou , Panagiotis D. Mihailaris, Angeliki Panopoulou, Konstantinos D. Tsiknakis, Evangelia Balta

THE AXES AND AIMS OF THE PROJECT

Salt (sodium chloride, NaCI) has been considered a valuable commodity and an element of civilization since the early antiquity. Salt has played a very significant part in many aspects of everyday life and, hence, the economy; it is indispensable for everyday dietary needs and employed in a wide range of uses besides cooking, such as in wine-making, metallurgical processes, glassmaking, pharmaceutics, animal husbandry, and mostly in salted goods and the preservation of foods.

After carefully examining the spaces where saltworks were located, it has been inferred that, in many cases, the natural formation of certain coastal rocks contributed to their operation as evaporation pools. High salinity seawater was trapped within them and the sun and wind would condense and crystallize it. Such natural cavities exist in many areas in Greece, such as on the coast of Messinian Mani or the cape Tigani, from where locals have collected salt to this day.

Apart from natural salt-works, artificial ones have been found in all eras. Seaside zones of fragmented coast configuration, long coastlines, and low sea level combined with flat waterside surfaces, as well as favorable climate, were the necessary conditions for salt-works to operate. However, human intervention in this field was crucial, because the construction of pools and pans, embankments and supply channels was required. The following stages included salt collection and piling, initially in salt-works and then in warehouses. Given that salt was a state monopoly in the early modern period, the biggest quantities were transported by state ships to the capitals and stored in state warehouses to be distributed afterwards to the markets. The quantities left in the production areas for domestic use were small.

Although the status of salt-works ownership in antiquity is not clear, it is certain that from the Byzantine to the early modern period salt-works belonged to major landowners, monasteries, or the state that also controlled the transport of salt. However, they were managed by private individuals. Workers at salt-works were, as a rule, residents in neighboring areas. Their pay differed depending on the time and the region; for instance, it is mentioned that in the fourteenth century Peloponnese the salt workers at Aspropeli, Messinia were the villeins, and as in farming, their payment was half their output. Later, in the sixteenth and seventeenth century, the residents of neighboring villages were forced to abandon agricultural work and toil there for a minimum pay.

A wide network composed of infrastructure, people, and transactions was organized around saltworks. Their protection required small or larger fortifications and the workers’ religious needs required the building of churches. Moreover, the need to store salt dictated the construction of warehouses and its export the construction of ports. J.C. Hocquet, the most important scholar on the history of salt, has shown that a well organized port was vitally significant for the commercialization of this extremely heavy product.

The main objective of this project is to diachronically illustrate the geography of salt producing areas in present-day Greek and Cypriot lands. Besides salt-works, on a second level, evidence was collected regarding the sites of concentration, destination, and distribution of salt and less pertaining to production volumes and their management. Thus, the project illustrates the continuity or discontinuity of organized and non-organized salt-works, the networks established among them, as well as the destination and distribution centers of salt. Given that this is not a complete study of the exploitation, distribution and use of salt, but rather a visual illustration of direct or indirect information about its production and exploitation sites, only sources that could be illustrated on a map were collected and used to indicate salt production sites and destination sites. As to the latter, provided that the relevant material is massive but repetitive and that salt distribution networks were largely dictated by the state monopoly policy in effect, the distributed quantities registered are not exhaustive but rather indicative.

Nevertheless, it is obvious that the diachronic mapping of salt producing areas is subject to problems arising from the sources and the limitations of research. Although all salt-works are included, both artificial and natural, regardless of their size, some of the latter can barely be identified in space since no neighboring settlements have survived; as a consequence, they are placed in the greater area. Moreover, the evidence drawn from written sources regarding salt-works in antiquity and the byzantine period usually lacks details. It rarely allows the drawing of conclusions on several fundamental issues related to the control regime of salt production, trade, price, means of transport, exact location of collection and distribution. On the contrary, historical evidence is multiplied from the late byzantine until the early modern period, thus an abundance of extant information on each and every issue mentioned above is collected. Especially form the fifteenth to the eighteenth century, when salt trade had reached a peak, the Venetian or Ottoman administration to which Greek areas were subjected, were interested in the recording of the salt-works and the increase in their productivity. Knowledge is restricted regarding these periods not due to a lack of sources but rather because of the difficulty to access all the documents and to cope with the absence of combined research.

Hoping to contribute to the above direction, this project attempts to include the following: a) unpublished archival material from the research of Evangelia Balta in Başbakanlık Osmanlı Arşivi (1990-2003), concerning information on the saltworks that operated in the Greek land during the Ottoman period and b) unpublished archival material collected by Panagiotis Mihailaris during his research in the State Archive of Venice (Archivio di Stato di Venezia), particularly, the private archive of merchant Demetrio Perulli (Archivio Privato Perulli), on the salt-works of Venetian Leucas. This material was inactive, since the above researchers’ interests were focused on other topics. Its inclusion in the current project, on the one hand, makes use of the researchers' toil, on the other hand, encourages other researchers to continue with further thorough search and processing.

The process of salt production during antiquity can barely be traced. Remains of salt producing activities have survived in only very few locations around the Mediterranean, such as the impressive remains of salt pans at the city Caunus in Caria, dated from the first century BC, which verify the acknowledged importance of salt for the city’s economy according to written sources 2. The most usual way to acquire salt was to collect it from the coast after the evaporation of seawater. The most suitable collection sites were lagoons and rocky coastlines where enclaves trapped seawater that would then evaporate leaving behind salt, usually with other mixtures that had to be removed. Pliny (Natural History 31. 39, 81) mentions the method of seawater channelization into artificial ponds, with or without the use of freshwater, and the collection of salt after the evaporation. Rock salt or halite was also known, while salt could also be collected from salt water springs, such as the spring in Chaonia. According to Aristotle, when boiled, the water of this spring provided white salt in fine grains (Meteorology 2. 3, 359a).

Due to the rarity of archaeological evidence, our knowledge of the exploitation of natural salt resources and salt distribution is almost exclusively based on written sources, namely ancient Greek and Latin literature, inscriptions, and few references on papyri. However, valuable information from philological sources, such as the relevant chapter in Pliny's Natural History (31. 73-105) from which much general information is drawn on the methods of production, the use of salt and salt varieties, cannot be illustrated in any other way than in relation to salt production sites. Some references to salt uses found in epigraphic sources, e.g. ritual meals after sacrifices, cannot be utilized either, unless they are connected to salt collection or salt distribution in a specific area.

Indirect conclusions on salt abundance in certain places are based on the information on booming activities which required the use of large salt quantities, such as the making of tarichoi, that is food preserved in salt, and the luxurious garos (Latin garus), a spicy sauce based on fish stock, salt and various spices. Salt was for centuries the only means to preserve food. Throughout the year, it preserved meat and fish (ταρίχη, Latin salsamenta), as well as vegetables (ἁλμαῖα, Latin salgama) and cheese, it facilitated long distance transport and thus served export and large scale trade. Both garus and salted food were probably widely sold, at least in populous commercial cities. Both items are mentioned in inscriptions, philological sources, and papyri, yet there are very few surviving archaeological remnants of their production and trade. Usually both the production sites and the majority of their trade network’s hubs are unknown. Therefore, this project includes only the cases of garus or salted food trade of a known production site since salt would be found at these sites in abundance within a close distance. The cases which provide information only about destination sites cannot be included in this project since, as already mentioned, garus, salsamenta and other items whose preparation required salt were found in all markets, especially in big cities. Thus, while the ταριχοπωλεῖον (salsamenta shop) and τάριχος are mentioned in inscriptions of Delos, the origin of the product sold on the island is unknown. The origin of tarichoi, which were coveted in Athens, is equally known. It is probable if not well-documented, that tarichos (τάριχος) was produced in Cos, where a sacred law designated the sacrifices to be made by those who owned contracts, probably for the collection of specific taxes, from the sellers of incense, legume and tarichos (Syll.3 1000, v. 15: τοὶ ἔχοντες τὰν ὠνὰν λιβανοπωλᾶν, ὀσπρίων, ταρείχο[υ]). It is also probable that salted food was processed at the fishing weirs (thynneia) close to the isthmus connecting the peninsula of Methana with Troizen, since the inscription that attests to the fish weirs also mentions salt-works in the wider area. The inscription does not provide clear information on salt-works management or the exploitation of fishing weirs and whether these were destined solely for fishing, and fish farming, or also included salting facilities. The phrase used to describe that those who suffered damage (apparently by the conflict mentioned in the inscription) will be compensated “from the common revenues accruing from the thynneia” (ἀπὸ τᾶν κοινᾶν ποθόδων τᾶν ἐκ τῶν θυννείων) (II. 43-44) shows that the fish weirs yielded some earnings, but the nature of these earnings remains unknown.

While most available information on the production of garus and salted food is drawn from written sources, the very little extant archaeological evidence on such activity is extremely valuable. A garus production facility has been identified in Castellorizo, with square pools—covered by the sea today—while in Corinth important remains of trade activity that covered a big part of the Mediterranean already in mid-fifth century BC survive to this day. Numerous amphora fragments found in the so-called Punic Amphora Building in Corinth contained remnants of fish preserved in salt and packaged for trade. The amphorae had come from Spain, Motya in Sicily, Chios, Mende, perhaps Potidaea, and probably even Massalia and regions of Northern Africa. 40% of the amphorae are Phoenician and another 40% are most likely from Chios. The analysis of the Phoenician amphorae has allowed us to identify the area of Kuass as their production site—either in present-day Morocco, close to the strait of Gibraltar or along the Iberian coast across.13 This area is known for its large scale production and export of salted fish, to which its many salt-works contributed. The Phoenician engagement in this trade was typical: it has been suggested that the access to salt supply sources played a decisive role in the Phoenician colonization of Iberia and Cyprus, just as for the Greek colonization of France's south coastline and the Iberia Peninsula. The importance of salt was acknowledged by the Phoenicians who had established a colony in the area of Kition in Cyprus, where an inscription in the Phoenician language attests to “the man of salt,” apparently a salt merchant.

The difficulty in identifying salt-works mentioned in ancient sources with modern locations is a common research problem. Salt-works mentioned in ancient inscriptions are mainly named ἁλαί, with no further specification, therefore to pinpoint them on the current landscape is often quite difficult, especially for areas that have been continuously inhabited since antiquity where the natural and urban landscape has significantly changed, such as in Attica. The debate between scholars on the identification of the ἁλή, which is mentioned in epigraphic texts from the Agora of Athens (Agora 19, La and Agora 19, Lb), is typical; several areas have been suggested: the area around Sounio, at Thoricus, in the strait between Salamis and Piraeus, even the urban municipality of Koile close to Melite. Yet, none of these identifications seems to solve all topographical and historical problems posed by the inscription.

Nonetheless, it is also difficult to date the exploitation of salt-works, given that the evidence in written sources does not usually provide any indication as to the time span of the exploitation of natural salt sources. The information drawn from philological sources, inscriptions, and papyri can therefore be safely dated only to the era that the sources themselves are dated. Occasionally, internal criteria of our sources or their philological and historical analysis allow us to conclude that some of the evidence they provide may correspond to earlier periods. It is known, for instance, that Roman sources derive from older texts, such as Pliny and Dioscorides who draw on texts by Theophrastus (fourth century B.C.), thus, we may assume that some of their references to salt probably also concerned the era of Theophrastus. This is also the case with historical information indirectly drawn from non-historical texts, such as comedies. References to salt may sometimes be linked to historical events, which are frequently used in the plot of the comedy. Thus, by knowing when a play was staged, salt-related information is indirectly dated accordingly, i.e. Aristophanes’s references to the salt of Megara (Acharnians, v. 520-522).

Rarely do the philological and epigraphic evidence provide information regarding the exploitation status of salt and the control of its supply sites. Even when sources frugally offer fragmentary information, it is unsafe to make any general deductions, since differentiations are observed between time periods and locations. The fact that salt was an object of trade is attested by many sources. Certain well-known varieties of salt, especially the varieties of Salamis in Cyprus (Pliny, Natural History 31. 84), Megara (Pliny, Natural History 31. 87. Dioscorides 5. 109), and Attica (Pliny, Natural History 31. 87. Cic., Fam. 9. 15, 5), were so coveted that they were imitated by other salt producing sites (Pliny, Natural History 31. 79). However, it seems that no large-scale salt trade took place in antiquity, since salt was not scarce throughout the Greek land, and along the Mediterranean coasts. Salt was insufficient only in some areas of the hinterland, while the need for salt in big cities was increasing. As a result, Gortys in Crete demanded a specific quantity of salt from Kaudos (Gavdos), a dependent island, and enabled the transport of the product either by the Kaudans themselves or by ships sent from Gortys.

Salt was transported both by sea and land. In the Mediterranean, ships would sail loaded with salt, what Plutarch terms ἁληγὰ πλοῖα (Mor. 685d), namely ships used for the transportation of salt. Loads of salt were also transported through land routes to supply the hinterland in areas where the commodity was scarce or of low quality and purity. For instance, Via Salaria was named after the salt route spreading from the mouth of River Tiber along its valley, while ancient lexicographers mention merchants who supplied the hinterland of Thrace with salt. Salt transport seems to have taken place in sacks or boxes, perhaps similar to the wooden boxes mentioned by fifth century BC comic poets, namely objects made by perishable materials that leave no traces, while no ceramic container exclusively associated with the transport and trade of salt has been found. A fragment of an SOS amphora from Attica, dated between 725 and 650 BC, found in the necropolis of S. Montano in Ischia, bears a Greek inscription from right to left ΗΑ, which the editors deemed an abbreviation for the word ἅ(λς), probably signifying the amphora’s content. Of course, this interpretation cannot be confirmed16. Equally questionable is the interpretation of the famous pan-shaped containers used either as brine and salt transport vessels, or as salt standardization containers with the aim of trade by the Cycladians perhaps to the hinterland of Greece. In fact, it has been suggested that the decorative patterns of the pan-like vessels– spirals interpreted as waves, as well as schematic symbols of the sun– echo their salt-related use.

Salt was not hard to find around the Mediterranean basin, therefore, its price in antiquity was not high, contrary to what the case was in Medieval Europe, when conditions favored soaring prices and taxation. Evidence that attests to the Thracians’ exchange of devalued slaves for salt is quite indicative (Pollux, Onomasticon 7. 14; Suidas A 1384). Even in the adverse conditions of the siege of Athens by Demetrius the Besieger, described by Plutarch (Dem. 33), the medimnos of salt cost 40 drachmas, while that of grain 300 drachmas. Prices of salt have survived in many catalogues of Delos.

Regardless of the price, the importance of salt has been apparent since prehistoric times, when it was used as primitive currency, to the peak of the Hallstatt-La Tène period which was a result of controlling the salt trade in the areas of Hallstatt and Hallein in Austria, and to the role of salt in the expansion of Rome. It is not accidental that the term for the salary of Roman soldiers and other officers of the Roman administration was salarium, given that salt is the foundation of nutrition, and, subsequently, the foundation of life.

Little information is provided by sources regarding the location of salt-works in the Byzantine era. We know that there were important salt-works, especially in Cherson,25 the northern coastline of the Black Sea, the western Asia Minor, the southern coasts of the Propontis, as well as the Thracian peninsula. The limited information we have on byzantine salt production is inversely proportional to the important role of salt in the nutrition of the Byzantines. Its use was not limited to everyday food preparation, namely in seasoning; it was additionally used for the preservation of several sensitive products, mostly meat, fish, vegetables, and cheese. The trade of salted food was a significant economic activity and its consumption was widespread in Byzantium, especially among the financially lower classes and in periods of crises (i.e. sieges).

Contrary to the plethora of evidence on the use of salt, very little is known about its production during the Byzantine era. The case of the Durazzo salt-works is typical: although they are mentioned by authors of the period (Anna Komnene, The Alexiad, 132-133), it is still unknown whether they were artificial or natural and whether they were exploited during the period in question. The view that the salt-works of the Byzantine territory belonged to the state is widespread, yet their exploitation was farmed out to private individuals. This practice was common in Byzantium for an array of state revenues, such as tax collection. Especially for the late byzantine era, there is some information from the sources that allow a better understanding of the function of this mechanism and the role of various state officials in it. In documents dated from the second quarter of the thirteenth century and onward, surviving in the archive of the Theotokos Lemviotissa Monastery in western Asia Minor,27 it is mentioned that the renters of Smyrna’s salt-works (contemporary scholars have concluded that these were actually the same salt-works as those of Phocaea) were ordered by the emperor to provide the monastery with two hundred “annonikoi modioi” (about 1,700 kilos) of salt annually. In the last document (according to the indiction, it is possibly dated either in 1259 or 1274) the head of the salt-works at the time, Konstantinos Chadenos who was also a state official, is mentioned.28 Farming out the exploitation of salt-works to state officials was a common practice, as the case of Leon Kalothetos, the Byzantine administrator of Old Phocaea, suggests; in 1350, he attempted to export from the port of the city grain and salt, which apparently had come from the salt-works of Phocaea, exploited by him.

The most impressive example of renting the exploitation of state saltworks is the one of Alexios Apokaukos. John Kantakouzenos informs us that Alexios had started his career as a secretary to the Byzantine official Georgios Strategos. The latter, in about 1320, exploited the state salt-works (most likely the salt-works of Anchialos and Ainos) and, wishing to renew the concession for the following year he trusted Apokaukos with an amount of money and sent him to Constantinople in order to secure the renewal. Instead, Apokaukos promised the emperor Andronicus II that he would offer double the price, should the exploitation of the salt-works be assigned to him. Indeed, the emperor appointed him as the manager of the state salt-works instead of Strategos. Yet in the end of the rent period, Apokaukos kept the entire revenue from the salt-works, deceiving, thus, the state treasury.

There are sufficient indications that possession and exploitation of salt-works in Byzantium was not an exclusive privilege of the state. Salt-works also belonged to individuals, monasteries, or the Church. In some cases, their origin is not exactly known, but they were probably built by landowners or church officials to cover the local needs and perhaps, to commercially exploit salt. Such a case is known from the writings of Ignatius, metropolitan of Nicaea for a period between 815 and 843. From a letter he addressed to the bishop of Helenopolis, we know that there were salt-works in his area exploited by the bishopric. Ignatius agreed with the bishop on the purchase of a quantity of salt and paid the total price of twelve golden coins31. In a document of 1089, kept in the archive of the Monastery of Xenophon on Mount Athos, there is mention of a salt-works in the area of Vourvourou, which initially belonged to the local Ieromnemon Monastery (Sithonia, Chalkidiki) and then to the Monastery of Xenophon when emperor Basil II (976-1025) offered them Ieromnemon Monastery and all its properties as a monastic dependency (metochion). We do not know whether the salt-works were built by the initial owners, the monks, or granted to Ieromnemon Monastery by a third party.

As a rule, these salt-works were previously state-owned and granted to the Church or monasteries by several Byzantine emperors. For instance, in 688, Justine II bestowed the salt-works of Thessalonica (probably at the mouth of the river Gallikos, although it may also be identified with the saltworks of Aggelochori in the Karabournou area, or even the ones in Kitrous in Pieria) to the Church of Saint Demetrius, to cover the temple’s lighting and maintenance expenses, as well as the clerics’ food.33 Similar cases are found throughout the middle and late byzantine period. In 1136, the salt-works of Cherronessos (in other words the Thracian peninsula) were granted by emperor John II Komnenos to the newly-founded Pantokrator Monastery in Constantinople,34 while, in 1216, emperor Theodore I Laskaris granted the Monastery of Saint John the Theologian of Patmos, the salt-works of Pyrgos, near Miletos (this grant was validated in 1221).

Indications of the existence of private salt-works are drawn from a document of the Theotokos Lemviotissa Monastery which is dated from 1230. It refers to the salt-works of Ligona (an area in the southern outskirts of Smyrna, on the foothills of Mount Pagos), which, prior to 1230, belonged to the monk Gerasimos, who later bestowed it to the Monastery of Saint George Exokastritis. At the same time, Xenos Valkes, the son of Gerasimos, kept half of its revenue. In 1230, the Valkes family gave to the Theotokos Lemviotissa Monastery, to which the Monastery of Saint George was a monastic dependency (metochion), full ownership of the salt-works.36 The same document informs us that these salt-works were adjacent to two other salt-works, belonging to Pithianos and Kampanis, which were most likely also private.

In the late byzantine era, the direct exploitation of salt-works was carried out by specialized groups of artisans, forming some type of society, according to a document of the Dionysiou Monastery, Mount Athos. The document, dated in 1415, mentions the πρωταλυκάριοι Demetrios Panaretos and Andronikos Kontoskalis, heading the two groups of workers who worked at the salt-works.

It is known that the fortune and survival of Venice from its establishment until its demise by the Napoleonic army (1797) was originally connected to salt production and trade and later to the monopoly of salt. Thus, from its hinterland close to the sea (Gioggia, Dalmatia-Ionian) to its most remote possessions (Cyprus, Crete), yet also in areas that could be influenced by it (Sicily, the coast of northern Africa), it had established or exploited a very wide network of salt-works, constantly supplying the monopoly of salt with the quantities required. If any of these areas was short of salt, Venice would establish salt-works in order to preserve the equilibrium of the above network. As expected, a great part of the salt produced and transported to Venice was distributed to northern Italy, as well as many areas of central Europe (e.g. Switzerland), since sea salt was always considered to be superior to rock halite. Salt trade decidedly contributed to the economic development of Venice and ensured its economic and political dominance in the Mediterranean for centuries.

Cyprus was the Serenissima’s most productive salt possession until 1570, the year it was seized by the Turks. Later, the interest of the Venetians in the salt-works of Crete intensified and they methodically attempted to develop and exploit them more systematically in order to stabilize the Venetian trade. Following the loss of Crete in 1669, the most important salt producing possessions of the Serenissima were briefly the Peloponnese and mainly the Ionian Islands, which undertook the protection of the Venetian monopoly in the Mediterranean. Thanks to their strategic location at the entrance of the Adriatic, they were already significant trading posts along the salt route to Venice.

CYPRUS

Salt and sugar were the most important exports of the island during the Latin and the Venetian occupation. Its salt-works were in Limassol and Larnaca and the travelers who visited Cyprus often mentioned its white salt of excellent quality. The perimeter of Larnaca’s salt-works spread for two miles and its output not only covered the local needs but was also exported in great quantities. It has been estimated that about 70 ships were annually loaded only at Larnaca’s salt-works during the Venetian occupation, while the annual revenue of the Venetian state would amount to 300,000 ducats. The excellent quality of the Cypriot salt especially that produced at Larnaca resulted in its rising demand and increasing value. According to the English traveler John Locke, the salt produced in 1553 belonged to Venice, while only the officials appointed by the state could distribute quantities. In fact, salt-works were guarded at nighttime in order to protect the product. He mentions that the warehouses of Venice stored mostly Cypriot salt and despite the export of great quantities, many piles remained in the salt-works. Lastly, he claims that the salt loaded on ships was weighed directly in Venice.

Indeed, during this period more attention was paid to the exploitation of the Cypriot salt-works and the organization of the transport of salt to the Venetian capital. Surviving documents mention that the Senate forced its ships heading to Venice and passing from the island to leave their freight and load the salt.

CRETE

From the first period of the Venetian presence in Crete, the creation of salt-works became an important issue. The attempt aimed both at covering the needs of the local population and at exporting certain quantities of salt to the metropolis.

The Venetian Senate decided in 1303 to dispatch special delegates to the island with a view to investigating the potential of establishing salt-works. The delegates sought appropriate sites and the outcome became apparent in the following centuries, since the operation of salt-works is attested in various areas of the island. The most important salt-works were in the area of Souda and are mentioned by the Florentine traveler Cristoforo Buondelmonti in his work Descriptio Insulae Cretae, written in the second decade of the fifteenth century.

During this period, the use rights of salt-works belonged to the owners of the land on which they were located. On the contrary, the distribution of the product was free. However, a new regime was put into effect in 1522, when the exploitation of salt became a state monopoly. The collection of salt was assigned to a tax collector in Candia who would lease the salt of the provinces of Chania, Rethymno, and Sitia to other minor tax collectors.

Throughout this period, salt exports from Crete to Venice were relatively limited. After Crete was seized by the Ottomans, in 1570-1571, the Venetian state lost its most central source of salt supply. Under these circumstances, the more systematic exploitation of the saltworks of Crete was prioritized. Giacomo Foscarini, the General Provveditore and Inquisitor of the island from 1574 to 1577, headed this task. This Venetian venture was quickly fruitful. Thus, the previous salt-works adjusted to the new situation, while many new ones were built in various sites of the island. The contribution of the local residents was of crucial importance throughout this period.

The most significant salt-works of the period was in the area of the gulf of Souda, given its natural privileges. It was followed by Spinalonga and the areas across: Oxo (Outer) Elounda had 12 pools, 61 boilers and 13 pans, while Mesa (Inner) Elounda had 16 pools, 122 boilers and 39 pans. There were also salt-works in the area of Almyros and Fraskia near Candia, in Palaiokastro near Siteia, and in Ierapetra. A smaller number of salt-works spread in many other crucial locations as well as isolated areas of the island.

From the last decades of the sixteenth century until it was seized by the Ottomans, in mid-seventeenth century, Crete had been one of the most important transport areas of salt to Venice. The transportation of the product would be in galleons or private ships chartered by the state. However, large quantities of salt were distributed to several directions, mainly to the islands of the Aegean but also to Constantinople through smuggling, which was particularly widespread.

THE PELOPONNESE

Many salt-works were located along the southeastern coasts of the peninsula. The salt-works of Thermisi were among the most productive in the Regno di Morea. Their perimeter was greater compared to other Peloponnesian salt-works and the Venetians called them a “wonder of nature” because they required little effort for the crystallization of salt, e.g. the construction of pans etc., and only some for its collection. Their exploitation by the Venetians had begun from the first Venetian conquest, but was intensified by Provveditore Francesco Grimani, when production reached its peak in 1698-1700. Given the excellent quality of the salt, significant quantities were exported from the coasts of Thermisi directly to Venice, while the remaining salt served the purposes of the local monopoly.

In the Peloponnese, there were also salt-works in Methoni and Koroni, Pyrgos, Lechaina and Kamenitsa. However, although the Venetians tried to enhance their production, these salt-works did not significantly develop. In 1692, the general Provveditore Antonio Zeno, took a special interest in the first two, which were known to the Venetians since the first Venetian conquest. The most important salt-works was that of Methoni, which was located close to the fortified city and had 38 sources of white salt and 28 of black, namely with admixtures. Antonio Zeno also arranged for the construction of warehouses to protect the salt from weather conditions and theft. Despite the Venetian expectations, their production only temporarily increased until 1700. In the late seventeenth century, the salt-works of Koroni, located in the village Longa, were distinguished as the old and the new, yet their production was very little and of bad quality.

The salt from the salt-works of Pyrgos – in Pontiko, near Alfeios River – was preferred by local consumers, but the Venetians found it unsuitable for export. The production of the Lechaina salt-works, connected through the Kotychi lagoon, was low and of bad quality. Close to the estuary of the river Kamenitsa (present-day Peiros), was the site of the homonymous salt-works, already recorded in the sources of the fifteenth century. Although the production of these salt-works was small, they supplied the monasteries of the wider area of Achaea with salt in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth century.

Immediately after their conquest, the Venetians began searching for new salt-works. Sources mention the salt-works of Ververonta in Porto Cheli, exploited by the Venetians since 1691, Koumpourna, near the village Aga (which has not survived), where the salt was naturally produced senz’alcuna manifattura e dispendio, and of Palaiokastro. However, the salt of the latter salt-works was of bad quality and their operation ceased. Upon the request of the renter of Thermisi’s salt-works, Mario Stella, he was allowed to exploit the area anew without however achieving the expected results.

THE IONIAN ISLANDS

Given that the possessions of Venice dramatically decreased in the eighteenth century, the salt-works of the Septinsular and the Dalmatian coasts acquired great importance in sustaining the salt monopoly. Therefore, salt-works that were not so important in the past, apart from serving the needs of the locals and supplying the neighboring areas (such as the salt-works of Lefkada, Corfu, Zante, and much less Cephalonia) with salt, emerged as vital factors in the eighteenth century Venetian economy. Historical approaches have so far shown that the period of the Tocco occupation of the Ionian Islands (fourteenth-fifteenth century) constitutes a major turning point for the emergence of salt-works and salt in the area of the Ionian Islands, if not the beginning of the establishment of salt-works.

During the Tocco rule, among the salt-works of the three islands, the one on Zante (Katastari) emerges as a significant site and its production sustains an important presence since the sixteenth century. When in standard operation, all salt-works including Zante’s, were under the supervision of the Ufficio del Sal of the central administration; salt-works were auctioned and the renter, on the one hand, assumed the responsibility to supply the local population with this valuable product –the preservation of olives until they were pressed was completely dependent on salt production– and, on the other hand, handled the shipping of a determined quantity to Venice with a view to trading it.

Generally speaking, this is the case for Corfu as well (especially for the salt-works of Lefkimmi and Potamos), while things differ in Lefkada since it is the only Ionian island to be occupied by the Turks (1479-1684), an event that thwarted western normality. However, all of the above are somehow homogenized in the eighteenth century when the colonial state of Venice is constrained to the Ionian and the Adriatic Seas. This fact, along with the expansion of the other western powers will seize important wealth producing resources from the Venetian economy. In effect, Venice is deprived of a very wide network of salt-works beyond the Adriatic. Thus, the salt-works and salt of the Ionian Islands will be called to replace the lost salt producing areas. Of course, the up to then economic dynamic of salt was not capable of meeting such new and serious requirements without an immediate reorganization.

In the second decade of the eighteenth century, Demetrios S. Perullis (late seventeenth century-1771) originally from Athens and from a family that had been in Venice at least since the mid-seventeenth century, emerges as a significant agent in the Venetian trade and also assumes initiative in salt trade. He began as a typical trade middleman, and rapidly alternating roles, he became an important economic factor, since, either alone or in collaboration, he supplied tobacco monopolies and especially salt monopolies with the quantities they required.

As far as salt is concerned, Lefkada then becomes a production center where Perullis’ s men systematically collaborate in salt production either in the old salt-works of the island, or mostly in the new ones established by Perullis in the area of Alexandros. At the same time, through his employees, he also undertakes the exploitation of the salt-works of Zante and Corfu. This exploitation further intensifies and yields more because Perullis acquires at least seven big ships in which he transports the necessary quantities of salt to Venice. This exploitation is carried on after his death by his son Spyridonas yet the great vitality of the period of Demetrios Perullis is missing, since the Venetian rule comes to an end and the salt-works and salt of the Ionian Islands are called to serve other purposes.

The studies on salt in the Ottoman Empire are few. Lutfi Güçer was the first to present a 1963 exquisite study on salt monopoly in the fifteenth and seventeenth century Ottoman Empire. In 1982, Stefan Andreev and Elena Grozdanova, using the Ottoman archival material of the National Library of Sofia, presented the activity of salt-works at Sozopolis, Anchialos (Ahyolu) and other sites. Minhai Maxim, in 1988, indicates that salt was a significant source of income for the Danubian countries. Saim Savaş has provided an interesting study on salt production in Sivas and Νeşe Erin has discussed the salt-works of Erzurum. Lastly, a 2004 volume published in Turkey has collected numerous interesting studies on this subject.

Our information on salt production in the Greek land during the Ottoman rule is restricted to the salt-works of the Archipelago and western Asia Minor, the Ionian Islands and the salt monopoly in the Cretan State (1898-1918). From the Venetian archives we know that in the western Peloponnese, the Venetians were supplied with salt from the salt-works of Koroni, Methoni and Kyllini since the thirteenth century. In the Peloponnese, on the side of the Aegean, there were the salt-works at Thermisi. Angeliki Panopoulou has studied the salt-works of the Moreas in the thirteenth to the fifteenth centuries and has asserted that the Peloponnesian salt was not prominent in Venice’s list of revenues from the lands of Romania, given that the greatest part of its commercial needs was covered by the salt of Cyprus.

A first research in the Ottoman sources has shown that numerous salt-works operated within the Greek land. The most significant are mentioned below, starting from the south: in Crete, there were Souda and Spinalonga; the Peloponnese had more, yet the dominant and most long-lived were the salt-works at Thermisi, Argolis; salt-works are mentioned in the Sanjak of Euboea, namely Athens, the area of Atalante and Lamia; salt-works operated in Volos, Thessaly and in the west, while in Epirus, there is mention of the salt-works of Kopraini in Arta; in the north, the salt-works of Thessalonica and Kitrous in Karaferye are prominent and in the east, there are the salt-works in Orfani, at the mouth of Strymonas river, the salt-works in Keramoti at the mouth of Nestos, and the rich salt-works in the region of Komotini, where two salt-works have operated to this day near the villages Nea Kesani and Mesi. Leaving aside the mainland and proceeding to the islands, the salt-works of Kalloni, Lesvos are to this day in operation. Going further south, there are the salt-works of Cos, also mentioned in sixteenth century kanunnames. Salt was additionally produced in the Cyclades, such as Paros, Naxos, Melos, yet also on other islands or beaches of the Greek land given its geophysical characteristics. The basic salt producing areas in the Greek land were three: the Peloponnese, Crete and Thessalonica.

THE PELOPONNESE

In the late fifteenth and early sixteenth century, four salt producing kadiliks are mentioned: Kalamata, Argos, Arcadia and Mystra. There is no doubt that the salt-works of Methoni, Koroni and Argos, known Venetian possessions that fell under Ottoman rule in 1500, and Nafplio and Thermisi, in 1540, are implied. In the kanunnames issued by the Sultans Bayezid II and Suleiman the Magnificent on Moreas, there is a special article regarding salt-works, and the taxation of salt is inextricably linked to the taxation of the area’s animal husbandry. This explicitly shows the fundamental use of salt as indispensable for livestock dietary needs. Suleiman’s kanunnames mentions that salt makers would keep one sixth of the output and the rest would be given to the state; the law was very clear about the penalties imposed on whoever tried to steal from the State.

Tax registers particularly refer to people who worked in salt-works due to the fact that they enjoyed tax reliefs. Some workers paid ispence and haraç and were only exempted from special taxes and services to the Ottoman authorities, while others did not pay ispence at all. Certain notes in the Peloponnesian registers are quite illuminating; they copy decrees issued by Sultans especially for this purpose, such as Selim’s I hüküm on the salt-works of Koroni, which refers to previous times. During the intermezzo of the Venetian occupation (1685-1715), the Venetians showed an intense interest in the salt-works of the Peloponnese, as evident in the reports of the Venetian Provveditori published by Spyros Lamprou, and also in the unpublished material of Venetian records presented by Angeliki Panopoulou on the salt-works and salt production in seventeenth century Peloponnese. This was based on the letters of its General Provveditore Antonio Zeno (1690-94) and on the Grimani archive (1698-1700), also presenting the designs of the salt-works of Methoni και Koroni.

The news on the salt of Moreas during the second Turkish rule (1715-1821) is limited to the salt-works of Thermisi. The mukataa of salt is named after it and the ottoman records sufficiently register the development of salt production in these salt-works.

CRETE

After the surrender of Candia to the Ottomans in 1669, the Venetians held on to three sea fortresses until 1715—Gramvousa, Souda, and Spinalonga—in order to protect their sea trade. During the Ottoman rule, the exploitation of the salt-works of Souda and Spinalonga, where the biggest salt-works of the island were located, continued. In the kanunname of the 1650 census, it is noted that the the salt-works workers were allowed to keep one sixth of the salt they collected for themselves and had to deliver the rest to the state. This law indicates that the salt-works of Elounda and some salt-works around Souda were by then under Ottoman rule. In kadi sicilleri there are only references to the salt-works of Spinalonga. The end of the Ottoman-Venetian war, in 1715, left the salt-works in a bad condition. They continued to be exploited by the rayahs of the villages Epano Fourni, Kato Fourni, Kasteli Fourni, just as during the Venetian rule. Already since 1656, that is, before the siege of Heraklion, the rayahs paid to the province of Rethymno, which was under Ottoman rule, a salt tax of 44 aspers per family. This tax was destined for the salary of the Janissaries of Chania. In 1671, one could get salt in Heraklion exclusively from the Janissaries’ central distribution shops.

THESALONICA

The salt-works of Thessalonica have been mentioned since the Byzantine years. It is believed that the Slavs called Thessalonica Solun, city of salt, after its rich salt-works. In 1468-1469, the revenues of a three-year exploitation of salt-works amounted to 9,000,000 aspers, a fact pointing to the very high salt production of the city. In 1472 and 1481, sources mention a Peloponnesian George, son of Paleologos (Μorali Yorgi bin Paleologo), renter of the taxes of Thessalonica’s salt-works.

In sixteenth century Thessalonica, two areas of salt workers are noted, as well. In the eighteenth century, nine villages are recorded in the administrative region of Kalamaria and Pazargiah (Chalkidiki). In the early nineteenth century, the villages of salt workers became 21, a fact that proves the intensification of salt production in the area. The residents of these villages, Christian and Muslim, worked at the salt-works and were relieved from many taxes, such as ispence, salariye, ulak, saman, etc; additionally, they were not obliged to provide hardtacks to the army and their children were exempted from Devsirme. In the material of the Ottoman Archives (Başbakanlık Osmanlı Arşivi) we have found a series of documents on salt trade in Thessalonica that date to the beginning of the twentieth century.

1 See Marzano 2013, 124-130.

2 See Marzano 2013, 126-128 and fig. 24-25.

3 On various types of saltworks and salt producing methods, see Dalaka - Petanidou 2004, 458-465, Petanidou 2001, 68-71, Korovesis 2001, 216-229, especially on the composition of sea salt and the ions and salts it contains, 217-218. See also Marzano 2013, 124-130. For general information on salt production during antiquity, see Petanidou 1977, 68 and 200-204.

4 Kanavas 2001.

5 Cf. e.g. Amandry 1939, 183-219.

6 Marzano 2013, 89-122, with pictures of cured food production facilities and amphorae shapes/profiles. A. Wilson, “Quantification of Fish-Salting Infrastructure Capacity in the Roman World” in http://oxrep.classics.ox.ac.uk/working%20papers/quantification_fishsalting_infrastructure_capacity_roman_world/

7 For ταριχοπωλεῖον (cured food shop): see, e.g., ID 104 (14), Β 1. 3 (434-315 B.C.). ID 104 (18), 1. 15 (434-315 B.C.). ID 104(20), 1. 4 (434-315 B.C.). Τάριχος (cured food): e.g., ID 401, 1. 24 (190 B.C.).

8 Some philological evidence indicate that Athens was supplied by Byzantium, Crimea in the Euxine Pontus, Spain and Sicily, while during the Hellenistic period also by Cyprus and Italy, Curtis 2001, 317 n. 114, where sources are mentioned.

9 Sherwin - White 1978, 230 no 51. Crowther 2004, 25-26.

10 The inscription, which includes the arbitration over a conflict between Troizen and Arsinoe, has survived in fragments in two copies, one in Epidaurus and one in Troizen. Epidaurus: IG IV2 1, 76 + 77. 42–50. See also, Ager 1996, 138 and Dixon 2000, 192-221. Troizen: IG IV 752. See also comments by Lytle 2012, 27-30.

11 Bresson 2007, 190 argues that the revenue might have come from the sale of rights to foreign fishermen so as to fish in the waters of Troizen. Lytle 2012, 29 thinks that the fishing weirs, such as other natural resources on shore, were exploited according to an older agreement by both cities by renting them, something that would bring significant revenue.

12 Williams 1979, 105-144.

13 Maniatis et al. 1984, 205-222. See also Lowe 2005.

14 Lowe 2001, 133-151, especially 141.

15 Lowe 2001, 136-138.

16 On all these ways of transport, see Carusi 2008, 167.

17 Doumas 1993, 299-318.

18 On prices indicated in the sources, see Carusi 2008, 162-165, 169-170 and 174.

19 Carusi 2008, 197.

20 Avram 2007, 239-51.

21 E. g. IG XI 2, 159, Α 36; 161, Α 121; 287, Α 44,57, 67, 80; ID 291 , Β 35; 314, Α 71; 316, ln. 70 etc. Cf. also Carusi 2008, 164, note 29.

22 Carusi 2008, 41-43.

23 Nenquin 1961, 148-152. Hopkinson 1975.

24 Giovannini 1985.

25 Gerolymatou 2001, 334.

26 Gerolymatou 2001, 332-334.

27 Miklosich - Müller 1871, 284-285.

28 Ahrweiler 1965, 19, 149-150. Matschke 1973, 42-43. Gerolymatou 2001, 328-330.

29 Matschke 1993, 141. Gerolymatou 2001, 330.

30 Matschke 1971, 135. Gerolymatou 2001, 326-327.

31 Kazhdan 1992, 197-198.

32 Papachryssanthou 1986, 10, 33-34.

33 Spieser 1973, 156-159. Gerolymatou 2001, 330-332. Nigdelis 2008.

34 Gautier 1974, 117. Külzer2008, 221, 312. Gerolymatou 2001, 330.

35 Vranousi 1980, 119-123. Gerolymatou 2001, 330-331. Ragia 2009, 350. Thonemann 2011, 288-290, 328-329. In the twelfth century, the metochion of Pyrgos belonged to the Monastery of Panahrantos in Constantinople, but, most likely the saltworks was not annexed to it since that time.

36 Miklosich – Müller 1871, 48-51. Ahrweiler 1965, 50, 67. The document informs us that it had eight pans (οὖσα χωρισμάτων ὀκτώ); it is the only evidence in a byzantine written source regarding the capacity of a saltworks.

37 Miklosich – Müller 1871, 48-51. Ahrweiler 1965, 113. 38 Oikonomidès 1968, 92-97. Matschke 1981, 144-159. Gerolymatou 2001, 328-329. Nigdelis 2008, 47. The salt-works was probably located in the west of byzantine Thessalonica, where the port is today. It has been hypothesized that it was the same salt-works bestowed to the Church of St. Demetrios by emperor Justinian II in 688.

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Research directed by: Sophia Zoumbaki, Panagiotis D. Mihailaris, Angeliki Panopoulou, Konstantinos D. Tsiknakis, Evangelia Balta. Collaborators: Marilia Lykaki, Christos Makrypoulias, Leonidas Moiras. GIS Chartography: Panagiotis Stratakis
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