Yes Charles, the job of Matthew is most interesting, especially to me, since I am a retired custom officer. Certainly the greatest export product of Israel, at least for a long period, was/were the great salt deposits that existed around the Dead Sea, there was even a "mountain of salt!"
Certainly, during the time of Herod and his laters, there is evidence that the salt pans of Europe and Italy might have taken a beating because of rising sea levels. Thus, besides N. Africa, the Levant, was the most formidable source of salt to a large part of the Med. area. It is most noticable, I think, that when you look a many of the great fortresses, and other relics, that surround the Dead Sea, they would not be so numerous if they were not there to protect and tax the salt producers. They existed to prevent illegal mining or taking of salt that belonged to Rome, for example, with Herod and his minions being the customs officers in charge of protecting this valuable resource.
© Charles N. Pope, US Library of Congress. All rights reserved.