The Carpathians | The „Salt Shaker” of Europe


Salt Mountain in Slănic – Prahova County | Romania

According to Nietzsche “the human intellect has produced in immense periods of time only errors”.

Why is necessary that every era to write its own history?

While the positive science is enhancing the knowledge of the world, we can have a more clear picture of the past developments, and therefore we can have clearer visions which are coming closer to the truth.

But, what is the truth really?

It is a specific way of theoretical, technical and practical understanding, by humans, of life and universe.

This understanding was not always the same – the atoms of Democritus have represented one way of understanding reality; the contemporary ones, were representing another way of understanding the same reality. So, the reality has not changed, but our understanding. As time has passed, since Democritus’s times and until today’s days, we have not gone through a sudden understanding; but through a slow and gradual one, with the diverse historical periods having specific agreements – which means that humanity is moving asymptomatically in rapport with the truth and the surrounding reality.

The same thing has happened with the thunder, the lightning, the rain, the snow, and with many aspects from the natural environment – for which the understanding and explanations have varied over time.

So, from these few considerations we can conclude that every era is carrying her own truths.

The history written in the Middle Ages and up to the 19th century, despite its claims of being science, sometimes did not meant more than science-fiction stories.

When the famous Max Müller, in the middle of the last century, had discovered a primary cradle of the Aryans (farmers and herdsmen) on the highest plateau of Asia (at an altitude of over 4,500 meters where the soil is getting defrosted only two weeks per year), this has not prompted any reaction from his contemporary scholars peers.

But let’s quote Max Müller, directly:

“Il existait un petit clan d’Aryas établis probablement SUR LE PLUS HAUT PLATEAU DE L’ASIE CENTRALE (subl. ns.) et parlant un language qui n’était encore ni le sanscrit, ni le grec, ni l’allemand, mais qui contenait les germes de tous cesdialectes. Ces Aryas étaient AGRICULTEURS (subl. ns.) et étaient déjŕ parvenus ŕ un certain degré de civilisation.” (3, p. 269)

“There is a small group of Aryans, settled on the highest plateau of Central Asia, who were speaking a language which was not yet Sanskrit, Greek , or German – but which contained in its seeds all these dialects. These Aryans were farmers who had already reached a certain degree of civilization.”

His countryman, Isaac Taylor, toward the end of the century is saying about discoveries like this that “Il n’y a pas de plus curieux exemple des aberrations de la science” (2, p. 173) which means – “does not exist a more curious example of science aberrations, like this one”.

Unfortunately, we have found many such fundamental errors written and spread by some illustrious scholars; but this is not the place to mention them.

Isaac Taylor is quoting several such names, as following:

“Il est instructif de voir combien sont médiocres les arguments qui suffirent ŕ convaincre les plus grands érudits de l’Allemagne et de l’Angleterre Pott, Lassen, Grimm, Schleicher, Mommsen et Max Müller que les Aryens étaient originaires de l’Asie, d’oů, par migrations successives, ils étaient venus s’établir en Occident… cette opinion, quoique peu fondée, fut universellement acceptée…” (2, p. 16)

“It is instructive to see how mediocre are the arguments which are stealing enough in order to convince the greatest scholars of Germany and England like Pott, Lassen, Grimm, Schleicher, Mommsen and Max Müller that the Aryans were originally from Asia, from where through successive migrations came to Occident. Although this opinion was very less developed, was universally accepted.”

Another error, which is not less important, is the made-up name of “Goths” by the medieval historiography. Actually “Goths”, undoubtedly represents another name for Gets (or Getians).

This evidence will be given in an introductory study, of a bilingual Latin/Romanian history of the Getians written by Jordanes in 551 A.D., whose original title is “De origine actibusque Getarum” – which means “About the origins and deeds of the Getians”. In this study, many historians have seen an imaginary confusion of Jordanes (himself being a Get) between the so called “Goths” and Gets.

If the savants we have reminded, and many others, would had taken Mother Nature as a guide, they would not had wasted their lives without any use.

The environmental conditions, the ones which have sustained the preservation of human life and the animals which have supported humans’ existence, were the first ones to be identified. If they would have done this, these illustrious scholars would not have to search at thousands of kilometers away in Central Asia, because it would have been enough to look closer in the center of Europe, in the Carpathian Space – the European Canaan, how Tröster named Transylvania.


Salt Mountain in Lopătari – Buzău County | Romania

In the “History of Transylvania”, an anonymous compendium from the Vatican library, in a Latin manuscript 6263 (approx. 1530), between pages 204 – 253 is written: “The principality is more than happy and more than any other, is fertile for everything …. here they have lived extraordinarily easily.”

The same way are reporting many other eyewitnesses, like Paul Strassburg (1632), Evliya Çelebi, Marigli , Petrus and Manutius Paulo (1596) , Johann Filstich (1728) and so on. Let’s partially quote Erasmus von H. S. Weismantel (1688-1749) who was saying that “this country has the most wonderful and rich land….with a little work it produces the most beautiful and best grains, vegetables, and other things.”

It is very curious how the Magyar historiography from the last century had sustained the hypothesis that Transylvania (together with the extra-Carpathian areas) – which in the preceding millennia has formed the only area in Europe where the full necessary conditions for the conception, preservation and perfection of human life were being present – has been inhabitable for 1,000 years, before the Hungarians had arrived from Central Asia, in order to populate it.

This historiography is ridiculed by clear aspects from geology and physiology, which are impossible to be challenged and questioned.

Figure no. 1 shows the illustrative findings of the research, conducted under the auspices of University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA), made by Marija Gimbutas – archaeology professor at this university.

Old Europe

Fig. 1 – The Old European civilization, during the peak of its expansion – 5th millennium B.C., as the part of the ancient world.

The object of prof. M. Gimbutas’s investigation was the archaeological remains from the Neolithic period (6,000 – 2,700 B.C.E). The traces of human inhabitation and the objects discovered during the archaeological excavations, can be found in museums and special places in all countries.

In the 5th millennium B.C. (as can be seen in fig. 1 – 5, pg. 54), with the exception of the Carpathian and peri-Carpathian space, Europe was a huge white spot. This reality is supported by the absence of skeletons from the Neolithic period, in countries which today are being known as France, England, Germany, etc.

At the end of her research, M. Gimbutas was writing (5. pg. 55 – Romanian edition), as following: “It is unclear what has caused the initial impulse for the cultural development of this ancient European civilization.”

A legitimate question would be: “Why in the Carpathian space has been appeared an organized human society and has been developed a primary grandiose civilization, and in other parts of Europe nothing like this has happened?”

The number of scholars like Mommsen, Virchow, Clémence Royer, André Lefčvre, André Piganiol, Pierre Lévêque, etc – who wrote about this difference, is very high; but, they could not find the explanation for it.

For some the physiology has not been born, and for others has not reached the perfection – yet.

We have published (6, pg. 49) a bilingual Romanian/English article named “The salt, a criteria for rethinking history”; article in which based on the data provided by physiology, we have concluded that without salt human life cannot exist.

Le sel est absolument indispensable ŕ la vie physiologique de l’homme… (7, p. 5)

The salt is absolutely vital for the physiological life of humans.

Without knowing about sodium and potassium, the villagers from ancient times knew that without salt life cannot exist.

Only like this can be explained the text 5/13 of Matthew, which is saying “You are the salt of the Earth”. In the story “The goat with her three offspring” she is bringing on her back a block of salt in order to give it to them, and in the story “The salt in the dishes” the moral is – without honey and sugar humans can live, but without salt – no..

Knowing the importance of salt while they were being simple villagers, these historians and linguists have forgotten about it – after they have gone to universities.

But let’s quote in the context two American references:

a. Without salt, the body goes into convulsions, paralysis, and death (9, p. 381).

b. Over many generations, only those humans survived who could carefully conserve enough sodium for good health. The rest have perished (10, p. 136).

Long before the article we have mentioned, we have written about the physiology of nutrition for an encyclopedia of culinary arts. With this occasion we have entrusted the overwhelming role of the 15-16 trace elements, the oligo-elements (oligo = a little bit), which although they are found in very small quantities in the human body, they are indispensable to achieve the vital functions of the body.

Sodium and potassium, through their role in producing the neuromuscular excitation of all muscles, are involved in achieving and maintaining the tone of the heart muscle, in keeping the acid-base balance in place, in achieving the intra-organic osmotic pressure, etc.

The conclusion is – despite the fact that sodium and potassium do not represent more than 0,5% – 0,6% from the whole body weight, for example a body of 70 kilograms contains 245 grams of Ka and 105 grams of Na, without them human life is not possible.

In the table 2.7, from the book we have mentioned, we can see very easily that in milk and products of milk, the quantities of potassium are two up to three times more than the ones of sodium. In meat and the products of meat, the same ratio is 1/2 to 1/4 – 1/5 in the favor of potassium. Almost the same ratio can also be find in fish and other aquatic animals. In cereals, fruits and vegetables the disproportion between sodium and potassium is very big – the ratio being 1/10 sodium to potassium, and in some cases the difference is 1/100 – 1/200 sodium to potassium.

The conclusion is that the quantity of potassium can be obtained from food, while the sodium cannot be obtained through diet.

Without an alternative to this limit situation, all the mammals including humans could have been disappeared. The alternative is represented by the rock salts deposits. The richest continent with salt resources is Europe, followed by North America. The most disadvantaged continents in salt resources are Asia, Africa and South America.

Romania is the most favored area in the world regarding the quantity of salt, quality of salt, and the presence of many massifs of salt on the soil surface (see Fig. 2).


Fig. 2 – Meledic Saline Plateau (Salt Mountain) – Buzău County | Romania

As a corollary of human physiology, human life could not have been appeared except only in an area with sodium resources in place. In Europe the only area like this was the Carpathian cradle of the European civilization.

Since Neolithic times in the backyard of every villager was a boulder of salt, which the cow and the sheep have been licking it, when they came home from grazing – getting the sodium necessary for their bodies. When they were leaving for transhumance with their herds of sheep, the Carpathian shepherds were carrying with them, on donkeys, sufficient quantities of salt which helped them and their animals to get their sodium needs, until spring – when they were returning back home, in the Carpathian mountains; Carpathian space which was the only source of salt in the whole peri-Carpathian area.

We want to get your attention on a very important subject for the history of Europe, subject which has not been mentioned yet- there have been existed shelters of the Wallachian shepherds in the area of Northern Black Sea up to the Caucasus, in the Balkan Peninsula up to the Aegean Sea and Marmara Sea, and in Illyria and Pannonia up to the Adriatic sea; places from where during the spring time, the herds were coming back home in the Carpathian space. In all of these extra-Carpathian spaces there is no salt, and this is why during autumn, when the shepherds were leaving in transhumance with their herds of animals, they were taking with them the so needed salt until they were coming back in the Carpathian space – the “salt shaker” of Europe.

It could not have been possible a reverse transhumance, with the shepherds coming out from these extra-Carpathian spaces and going toward the Carpathian spaces. Before the road salts have been constructed, in order to supply the people with the necessary salt, the humans and animals could not have been survived in these areas.

The sheep was domesticated in the Carpathian space 10,000 years ago, since Mesolithic times, from where it has been spread through periodic oscillations.

In a temperate zone, the minimum requirement of salt is 1 gram per day for children under one year old, 10 grams per day for children between 1 and 14 years old, 25 grams per day for adults who are doing easy work, and 35 grams per day for adults who are doing hard work. The average consumption of salt is varying from country to country. The average quantity of the consumption of salt is 7.5 kilograms per person per year.

The consumption of salt recommended for animals is 10-30 grams per day for cows, 7-15 grams per day for sheep, 5-10 grams per day for pigs, etc.

The percentages of salt used in the food industry, are as following: between 2% – 2.5% salt used in butter and margarine, between 1.75% – 3.25% salt used in cheese, between 1.5% – 2% salt used in canned vegetables, between 3% – 20% salt used in pickled vegetables, between 2% – 6% salt used in prepackaged meats and corned beef, between 10% – 30% salt used for the conservation of fish, etc.

From the numbers mentioned above, we can conclude that for the existence of any human group, large amounts of salt are necessary.

Also, should be noted that until the invention of refrigerators, large amounts of salt were used in order to preserve food.

On page 7, in an interview published in Magazine no. 33 (August 13, 1983), the Romanian anthropologist Dr. Dardu Nicolăescu Plopşor is saying that “Salt has always been used in food, by humans. According to some scientists, an indirect proof of this assumption is that the oldest human settlements can be found usually in valleys and ONLY IN THE NEAREST VICINITY OF SOME MASSIFS OF SALT.”

What Dr. Dardu Nicolăescu Plopşor is saying, regarding the human settlements from the Carpathian Mountains, agrees with what Herodotus (5th century B.C.) is saying in his “Book IV § CLXXXI – CLXXXV” – where he is talking about diverse populations who are living next to a hill of salt and a water spring.

In the above mentioned interview, Dardu Plopşor is also saying that “Such findings have prompted some researchers to advance the idea that the consumption of salt has played an important role in the process of evolution from hominids into humans.”

In the 4th millennium B.C., between the Neolithic settlements (belonging to the Cucuteni culture) from Ţolici and Târpeşti, in the Ţolici forest, have been discovered some salt water springs – which have been known and used since Pre-Cucuteni III. Similar discoveries have been made in other areas belonging to the Cucuteni culture, and also in areas belonging to the Criş culture (5,500 B.C.). For sources see “Getica” magazine 1-2/1992, pg. 56. So it should not be surprising that the oldest material traces dating 1,800,000 – 2,000,000 years in the past, like the shaft of tibia and femur belonging to a hominid, have been discovered by the Romanian anthropologists Constantin and Dardu Nicolăescu-Plopşor – in the Carpathian space on the shores of the Getic Lake, on the territory of Bugiuleşti commune (Vâlcea County), in a place called Grăunceanu Valley.

Being made public and attested at various international congresses, these discoveries could represent the first Australopithecus “resort” found on the European continent – the oldest vestiges of human settlements, belonging to the earliest stages of human history from Pre-Paleolithic times.

Human life has appeared only in an area where salt was present, and the Carpathian space is such a privileged place.

From all the places in the world, the Carpathian space enjoys the highest density of salt resources. We can find here over 300 massifs of salt of high quality, which are easy to exploit, and some of them can be find even on the surface of the soil in the form of salt mountains. Besides these 300 massifs of salt, which are located on both sides of the Carpathian Mountains, in the Romanian space we can find 3,000 salty water springs (Dr. I. P. Voiteşti, 1920) and numerous salt lakes like Amara, Razelm, The Salty Lake, etc. Our mother told us that after World War I, in Pietricica commune (Bacău County), they were getting salty water for cooking food, out of a water well.


Salt Mountain in Praid-Sovata (Harghita & Mureş Counties) | Romania

Starting with the 6th millennium B.C. there is a demographic explosion of the population, so the people had to spread and live in areas lacking salt resources.

The physiological dependency on salt, has made the spread of populations to be conditioned by the continuous supply with salt of the people living in these areas. This is how salt roads have been developed, which are starting from the Carpathian space and going out in all directions – south, west, north, east. Along these roads have been appeared new human settlements, which were located increasingly distant from the resources of salt. One such road starting from Slănic saline, was passing through Bucharest (where we already have a road named “The Salt Road”), and after that was crossing the Danube reaching Bosphorus.

The transportation of salt on such long distances was not missed by dangers, and the risks taken had to be paid. This is why salt had become so expensive to the point that in some areas was reaching currency exchange status. From this situation has been born the expression “to be too salty” which means “to be too pricey” – when we are referring to the pricing of goods. We also have the expression “if salt is spilled, we are going into a brawl”, expression which is justified by the scarcity and the high prices of salt.

Being a high priced product, salt was used, in some areas, like a gift brought to the shrines of various deities. As the people were moving away from the natural resources of salt, a prosperous trade with salt was being born. The role of salt in history was crucial – Venice has developed because of the salt trade and has waged wars in order not to lose the salt trade monopoly, and London and Hamburg have developed in connection with the salt trade.

Dardu Plopşor was saying that at the Gets the salt was considered to have mythical and magical qualities, and the so called Dacian fruit-bowls were nothing else than salt containers used in rituals. Regarding the mythical qualities of salt, J. J. Ehrler (13. p. 46) is writing, as following: “The Romanian oath is made on BREAD, WATER and SALT; it is known that once the Romanians are swearing on these things, they would rather endure torture and give their lives than to betray their accomplices, as happened on several occasions.” It is a sacred oath!

According to Ion Ghinoiu, in a speech presented on June 19, 1993, at S.C. GETICA, in “Căluş” – a prehistoric ritual attested only in Romania, which is representing a millenary tradition about a zoomorphic deity, the HORSE – in the Sacred Circle are being put, in order to be enchanted by the Căluş, only Romanian food symbols. These food symbols are represented by a small block of SALT and some seeds, which are coming only from plants growing since ancient times in the Carpathian space like wheat, millet, barley, oats, and rye. Among these food symbols, corn was never used.

The magical aspect is very widespread – salt is used in different spells and talismans in order to cure different diseases (14, p. 19, 84, 202, 245, 247, 376, 384, 388, 393). Also, in Romania the guests were and are being welcomed with bread and salt – as a sign of friendship and hospitality.

According to Schiller, two forces are driving the world – hunger and love. Hunger was the human being condition of existence, love was the condition of existence of the species in itself. In order for the species to exist, is necessary that the people who are forming it to secure their own individual existence first. This is why nutrition is an existential constant which is governing, from birth to the grave, the individual life of humans. Until the apparition of the so called consumerism society, nothing was done without sense in the first moments of humanity’s existence, and after that throughout all its evolution. Since the beginning, the human being has depended on nature and has collaborated with it in a natural process, and its existence was developing under the motivation of necessity.

Today, many European nations (we are referring to the ones who left us mentions in this regard) like the Spanish, the French, the English, the Danish, the Scandinavians are claiming their Carpathian origins. For the ones from whom we do not have such a direct claiming, we still have the various historical documents. So the whole scenario of the development of human evolution, has its roots coming from the more favorable conditions offered by the Carpathian space; one of these conditions being that this space has represented for millennia the “salt shaker of Europe”.

Article written by Gabriel Gheorghe | Carpaţii – „Solniţa” Europei

Translated by Ioana


1. Zaborowski, M. S., “Les peuples Aryens d’Asie et d’Europe”, Paris, Octave Doin, 1908, 439 p.

2. Taylor, Isaac, “L’origine des Aryens” … (Traduction de l’anglais), Paris, Vigot Frčres, 1895, 332 p.

3. Müller, Max, “La science du langage”, Paris, A. Durand et Pedone Lauriel, 1867, 530 p.

4. Weismantel (von) Erasmus A. S., “A short description of the Moldavian territories”, ap. “Foreign travelers about the Romanian lands”, vol. VIII, ESE, 1983

5. Gimbutas, Marija, “Culture and civilization”, Meridiane publishing house, 1989, 296 p.

6. “GETICA” magazine, nr. 1-2/1992

7. Stocker, Jean, “Le sel”, Paris, PUF, 1949

8. Mollat, Michel (Edit.), “Le rôle du sel dans l’histoire”, Paris, PUF, 1968, 334 p.

9. Young, Gordon, “Salt, the essence of life”, In: “National Geographic”, September 1977, vol. 152, nr. 3.

10. Adams, Ruth and Murray, Frank, “Minerals, kill or cure?” N. Y. Larchmont Books, 1977, 370 p.

11. Gheorghe, Gabriel, “Culinary art. Small practical encyclopedia”, Ceres publishing house, 1982, 464 p.

12. Atudorei, C. et al, “The research, exploitation, and valorification of salt”, Tehnică publishing house, 1971, 396 p.

13. Ehrler, J. J., “The Banat region, from origins until now – 1774”, Timişoara, Facla publishing house, 1982, 208 p.

14. Candrea, I. A., “The Romanian medical folklore”, Casa publishing house, 1944, 478 p.


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