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Since antiquity, pepper has always been the most important spice in the world. It played a central role in the medicines of ancient India and China, became a critical component of Roman food, and remained central in the cuisine of medieval Europe. Dreams of its acquisition drove Vasco da Gama (c. 1469-1524) around the Cape of Africa to the Indian Ocean and Christopher Columbus (1451-1506) across the Atlantic Ocean to the New World.

More about: Pepper


  • 2000 BCE
    Pepper is widely used in Indian cooking.
  • 400 BCE
    Pepper is known in Greece.
  • 30 BCE
    Pepper is directly imported by Roman ships from India and its price decreases.
  • 100 CE - 300 CE
    Pepper becomes a major ingredient in Roman cooking.
  • 408 CE
    Alaric I the Visigoth besieges Rome. As ransom, Rome pays 5,000 pounds of gold, 30,000 pounds of silver, 4,000 silken tunics, 3,000 hides dyed scarlet, and 3,000 pounds of pepper.