Above the Austrian village of Hallstatt rises the 1900 meter mountain called Plassen. At about 800 meters up its eastern flank lies a hanging valley carved by a glacier millions of years ago.
This was a large Celtic settlement and given that in modern times Hallstatt has been a very small village, and still is, you have to wonder what was so important to Bronze Age people that they lived here, high in a mountain valley, in relatively large numbers and, by the richness of the graves, were apparently so wealthy. The answer is simple. Salt.
In this valley was discovered a large Bronze Age burial site containing graves of huge archaeological significance. So important was this discovery that it gave its name to a period of human development – the Hallstatt Period.
Underneath the mountain lies very large salt deposits that have been continuously mined since the Bronze Age. The Celtic miners, men and women, lived and died here mining the salt, carrying it on their backs down the 300 meters to the Hallstatt lake where it was loaded onto boats and traded, providing these people with everything else they needed to live and their relative wealth.
Today the vast majority of salt is extracted as brine and pumped many miles away for processing along the salt pipeline. However, it is possible to buy unrefined rock salt, just as it is when it is dug out of the mountain. As you can see, it is full of colored minerals and particles of mountain rock. This is “raw” salt and is a wonderful addition to your diet. I see it as the same as putting rock dust on your vegetable garden. But please be warned, you need a ceramic toothed salt grinder to powder the fragments to the size that they won’t break your teeth!