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It is difficult to imagine now just how important spices were in those days. At the time, however, spices were the first food products in history with the power to compel men to cross the oceans on almost impossible voyages to unknown lands. They were used in cooking as seasoning, but also in perfumes and pharmacology. They were even burned to scent indoor spaces, and as part of funeral ceremonies. In Elcano's day, they were extremely valuable: one pound of cloves was worth the same as a quarter of an ounce of the purest gold. The 524 quintals (or 115,522 pounds) of spices brought back by the carrack Victoria on its return to Seville would have been more than enough to cover the cost of the entire expedition.

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  • Title: Spices
  • Rights: FotoSajewicz / Shutterstock.com

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