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Change looms for ancient Ethiopian salt trade

Siegfried Modola / Reuters

A worker ties together slabs of salt extracted from the Danakil Depression in northern Ethiopia April 22. Once the caravan find a suitable place to mine salt, they extract, shape and pack as many salt slabs as possible before starting their two-day journey to the town of Berahile. The Danakil Depression in Ethiopia is one of the hottest and harshest environments on earth, with an average annual temperature of 94 degrees Fahrenheit (34.4 Celsius). For centuries, merchants have travelled there with caravans of camels to collect salt from the surface of the vast desert basin. The mineral is extracted and shaped into slabs, then loaded onto the animals before being transported back across the desert so that it can be sold around the country.

Siegfried Modola / Reuters

A man walks with his camels through the Danakil Depression, northern Ethiopia April 22. Once the caravan find a suitable place to mine salt, they extract, shape and pack as many salt slabs as possible before starting their two-day journey to the town of Berahile. The Danakil Depression in Ethiopia is one of the hottest and harshest environments on earth, with an average annual temperature of 94 degrees Fahrenheit (34.4 Celsius). For centuries, merchants have travelled there with caravans of camels to collect salt from the surface of the vast desert basin. The mineral is extracted and shaped into slabs, then loaded onto the animals before being transported back across the desert so that it can be sold around the country.

Reuters

A man lifts slabs of salt onto a truck in the town of Berahile in Afar, northern Ethiopia April 19. The Danakil Depression in Ethiopia is one of the hottest and harshest environments on earth, with an average annual temperature of 94 degrees Fahrenheit (34.4 Celsius). For centuries, merchants have travelled there with caravans of camels to collect salt from the surface of the vast desert basin. The mineral is extracted and shaped into slabs, then loaded onto the animals before being transported back across the desert so that it can be sold around the country.

Siegfried Modola / Reuters

A man walks on sulphur and mineral salt formations near Dallol in the Danakil Depression, northern Ethiopia on April 22.

Siegfried Modola / Reuters

A man prepares bars of salt to be sold in the main market of the city of Mekele, northern Ethiopia on April 24.

 From Reuters:  HAMAD-ILE, Ethiopia - Abdu Ibrahim Mohammed was 15 years old when he began trekking with caravans of camels to collect salt in a sun-blasted desert basin of north Ethiopia that is one of the hottest places on earth.

Now 51 and retired, he has passed his camels to his son to pursue this centuries-old trade in "white gold" from the Danakil Depression, where rain almost never falls and the average temperature is 94 degrees Fahrenheit (34.4 Celsius).

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