How did salt and pepper become the 'default' spices in Western cooking?

I’ve always wondered about this. Salt I pretty much understand, it’s a fairly plentiful mineral, so that makes sense. But why pepper? Why not basil, or cumin, or any one of a number of things?
Also, as a side note, when did this ‘canonization’ of salt and paper occur?

Ouch…I should’ve known. Thanks for the link.