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The Story of Spice conjures images of tempting culinary arts, fascinating travels to faraway lands, bitter struggles for supremacy and the rise and fall of empires. Judith Jones, along with fellow travellers around the world, discovers the extraordinary story of the world’s most aromatic culinary ingredients. Judith meets historian and author, John Keay, to learn about the origins of spices. The earliest known evidence points to the time of Alexander the Great and its invasion of India when he brought spices back upon his return from Asia. Today India contributes two thirds of the global production and Indian cuisine is characterized by the extensive use of numerous spices. To see what spice plants look like before they are harvested, Judith visits London’s Kew Gardens where horticultural expert Joe Archer shows her young specimens of the world’s oldest spices such as pepper, cloves and nutmeg. Another ancient spice that is immensely popular today is cinnamon, which originated in Sri Lanka and is where we join Bobby Chinn, in Ahungalla. Following Alexander the Great’s return from the Middle East, his haul of Indian spices in tow, the Arabs developed an extensive trade route: The Golden Road of Samarkand. For centuries, spices became the number one commodity in the Middle East with each region developing their own unique blends as Bobby Chinn finds out when he peruses the spice markets in Lebanon. Back in London, John Keay explains the role of the Roman Empire in the control of the spice trade. By the 13th century the remaining territories of the Eastern Roman Empire had lost control of the spice trade to the Ottomans who continued to trade and control these highly valuable, sought after commodities. In the early age of exploration, as navigation technics improved, Europeans began searching out spices for themselves; Marco Polo being one of the first explorers in the later part of the Middle Ages to explore the East. Seafaring Venetians then became the new middlemen linking the Ottoman spice traders with their spice hungry customers in Europe.By the end of the 13th century, the Venetians had established Venice as the most important trading port in the world.