Sri Lanka – The Spice Trove

Sri Lanka - The Spice Trove

Long before this island nation became known for its famed tea, it was courted by kings and courtiers for its treasure trove of gems, the iridescent peacock, purest of ivory, perfect pearls, and its abundance of spices. The Roman philosopher Pliny the Elder in 77AD states that the mighty Greek warrior-king and empire builder Alexander the Great visited Sri Pada (circa 324 BCE). The Egyptian astronomer, mathematician, and geographer Ptolemy travel journals of the Portuguese explorer Lorenzo de Almeida, Venetian explorer Marco Polo, the great Moroccan traveler Ibn Batuta, and the first Chinese monk Fa-Hien all speak of this island.

It is recorded that the spice trade in the Orient is partly the reason for the spread of civilization throughout Asia and Europe. Traces of Sri Lanka’s cinnamon, revered to date for its unparalleled quality, has been found in 4,000-year-old Egyptian tombs. Apart from cinnamon, there is reason to believe that the oldest clove in the world was found at an early excavation site in Manthai (Mannar), an ancient port that was the center of international trade connecting the Red Sea, Persian Gulf, East Africa, Far East, and Greater India. Black pepper was another popular spice that was traded from Sri Lanka in those times.

Since the 16th century, Ceylon was wooed and fought over by European colonizers, starting with the Portuguese from 1505 to 1658, the Dutch occupation from 1658 to 1796, and finally British rule from the late 1796s to 1948, primarily to control the island’s vast wealth of spices.

Today, Sri Lanka continues to grow and nurture these spices in spice gardens across the island. We at Iona Estates, carry on this hallowed tradition so that the world can continue to enjoy these wonderful spices. Our range of spices under the Iona Estates brand is carefully selected for their unmatched aroma, potency, flavor, and absolute freshness.