Heather Whipps' "How the Spice Trade Changed the World"

LiveScience columnist Heather Whipps writes a weekly column on world-changing events. A recent article discusses how the Spice Trade brought East and West together.

Whipps looks at the importance of spices in medieval life and traces how trade to and from the Middle East was controlled by a few wealthy families.

Spices were an important component of ancient commerce well before the 15th-century, but were monopolized for centuries by Middle Eastern and North African middlemen who guarded the Asian provenance of their valuable sources closely and became fabulously wealthy for it.