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The study of salt from an anthropological perspective provides a holistic view of its role in the evolution of human communities. Studies from around the world, ranging from prehistory to modern times, are here organized into 6 sections: theory, archaeology, history, ethnography/ ethnoarchaeology/ethnohistory, linguistics, and literature.
Mirrors of Salt publishes the proceedings of the First International Congress on the Anthropology of Salt, which took place at the Alexandru Ioan Cuza University in Iasi (Romania). The impact of salt on the development of human communities, from the Neolithic to the present, has generated a huge number of specialized studies. However, scientific research has become so atomized that the primordial importance of the mineral has been lost, creating a need for a holistic, comprehensive vision of the dimensions generated by salt. This can only be achieved through anthropology. The anthropology of salt encompasses the entirety of human behavior, i.e. cognitive, spiritual, pragmatic, and social reactions to salt, and provides a holistic view of its role in the evolution of human communities. The anthropology of salt thus brings salt studies from an ancillary position to an autonomous discipline. The papers in this volume are organized into six sections: theory, archaeology, history, ethnography/ ethnoarchaeology/ethnohistory, linguistics, and literature. Topics include salt in Greek and Roman antiquity, as well as from Cameroon, Georgia, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, Moldova, Mongolia, Nigeria, Peru, Romania, Spain, Sudan, Syria, Ukraine, the USA and Venezuela. The congress was organized within the project The Ethnoarchaeology of the Salt Springs and Salt Mountains from the Extra-Carpathian Areas of Romania, financed by the Government of Romania (CNCS – UEFISCDI) (2011-2016). Its theoretical novelty and geographical range render Mirrors of Salt a unique study of the world’s most-used non-metallic mineral.
Marius Alexianu is Senior researcher at Alexandru Ioan Cuza University of Iasi, Romania. His research interests encompass ethnoarchaeology and the anthropology of salt. He has published the first study on the concept of the anthropology of salt and is the author of the book chapter Ethnoarchaeology of Salt in Romania, published in the Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology, edited by Claire Smith (2nd ed. 2020).
Roxana-Gabriela Curcă is Associate Professor at Alexandru Ioan Cuza University of Iasi, Romania. She specializes in ancient history, Classical philology and the ethnography of salt. She has published on the correlation between ancient Greek/Latin texts and current practices in Moldova in the field of halotherapy.
Olivier Weller is a researcher at the CNRS (UMR 8215 Trajectoires, CNRS-Université Panthéon-Sorbonne, Paris, France). His research concerns the archaeology of salt and the origins of its production in Europe, from the Neolithic period onwards, through exploitation techniques, uses and socio-economic issues. The approaches developed are technological (ceramics), ethnoarchaeological, paleoenvironmental, physicochemical and geomatic. His studies have been developed from Europe (France, Spain, Germany, Poland, Romania, Moldavia, Bulgaria) to Oceania (New Guinea, Tonga). He is currently director of the Trajectories laboratory (2019-2024).
Ashley A. Dumas is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of West Alabama. She is a specialist in the late precolonial period of the Southeastern USA. She is the editor, with Paul N. Eubanks of Salt in Eastern North America and the Caribbean: History and Archaeology (2021).