Thyme is another herb that has been in use in the Mediterranean region for hundreds if not thousands of years, with Egyptians using it for embalming and it made its way to Greece and Rome, where it was also mostly used for cleansing a room (in addition to cooking). Burning thyme creates a nice incense-like smell which was considered sacred and during funerals to help with the transition to the afterlife. It was adopted as a Mediterranean spice by many cuisines and cultivated in many countries, including Northern European ones (ours comes from Poland, for example).
Thyme is often used as one of the components of a multi-spice (or better multi-herb) mix. It is part of Italian Herbs, Herbes de Provence, Bouquet Garni, Middle Eastern's Za'atar, Caribbean Jerkies, or Louisiana Cajun dishes. It is a very versatile spice that goes with almost any meat and vegetable, solo or as part of the herbal team.
In ancient Greece, if you wanted to describe someone as chic and stylish, you said he or she “smelled of thyme.” Since then, thyme has never lost its appeal. The Greeks valued the herb for its pungent scent and delicious flavor and believed it symbolized courage and the essence of life. Before competitions, athletes at the games anointed themselves with thyme oil to give them strength, and soldiers bathed in thyme-scented water to gain fortitude in battle. Thyme also was popularly worn as a garland.
Thyme's magic has been around for some time and led to some sweet uses (figuratively) in the Middle Ages. In Ancient Greece, thyme was infused into baths, and in Greek temples, the smoke from thyme incense was used to spread courage. Egyptians would embalm their dead using thyme, and the Europeans would place it in coffins to help the dead pass on to the next world. During the blight of the Black Plague in the 1300s, thyme was used to protect against the disease, and thyme was a major ingredient in many medicinal concoctions. It offers protection, but more notably is well-known for its power to grant courage. "A young maiden, in love, carefully and attentively embroiders a small bee hovering above a sprig of thyme onto the scarf of the knight she has chosen to be her protector, in hopes it will provide him protection as well, and grant him courage...."
The Romans wrote extensive treatises about the cultivation and benefits of thyme – Virgil, Apicius, Varro and Plautus all discuss thyme, and the encyclopedist Pliny the Elder gives no less than 28 diseases and ailments that were helped by thyme, as well as extensive advice on thyme recipes, planting, cultivation and varieties. Since the days of the Pharaohs, people have believed thyme has powerful antiseptic and preservative qualities. The Egyptians used it as the main ingredient to preserve mummies and, in fact, thyme is still used in embalming fluid. As late as World War I, thyme was commonly used in the battlefield to help heal wounds and prevent infection. Thyme also has well-known expectorant qualities and is widely used in modern cough drops and syrups.
These are recipes where thyme flies mostly solo and shines in its own right,
with chicken - https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1018680-thrice-roasted-chicken-with-rosemary-lemon-and-pepper?action=click&module=Local%20Search%20Recipe%20Card&pgType=search&rank=2
with salmon - https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/11687-salmon-with-thyme-lemon-butter-and-almonds?action=click&module=Global%20Search%20Recipe%20Card&pgType=search&rank=3
or even sardines - https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1013405-broiled-sardines-with-lemon-and-thyme?action=click&module=Global%20Search%20Recipe%20Card&pgType=search&rank=13