The recipe for salt-mining is simple: hack it from the rock; bring it to the surface; and repeat indefinitely. The classical equipment of the salt miner is equally simple: his pickaxe, his mallet and his muscles. With these alone, the men of Wieliczka searched for the treasure buried beneath their town.

If we're really going to get to the bottom of things, we have to go back 20 million years to the Miocene era, when the Carpathians were being formed. Geological evidence suggests that there was a sea here at that time, a sea which evaporated leaving a wealth of mineral deposits, including common or garden sodium chloride.

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