Science or Fiction
Peppercorns are the dried fruit of the pepper tree, which is native to India and parts of the Middle East and Northern Africa. http://www.coleandmason.com/history-of-pepper.aspx
Black pepper has been used as currency throughout ancient and medieval times, often valued equal to or greater than gold. http://www.foodreference.com/html/fpepper.html
Pepper was used in the mummification process of Ramesses II. http://www.ancient.eu.com/Pepper/
Skeptical Quote of the Week.
“Humanity and life are reflected in the stars, and the Universe itself is poetry.” – Phil Plait