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History of Olive Oil

Updated on June 8, 2010
Ancient history of olive oil photo: 96dpi
Ancient history of olive oil photo: 96dpi

Olive Oil Ancient Holy References

The olive tree is traditionally associated with peace as well as honor. Olive oil, just like wines, has existed for what seems like the beginning of time. And just like wines, numerous kinds of olive oil possess their own qualities taken from the terrain and climate.

For inhabitants of the Mediterranean region, olive oil has been known to offer therapeutic, even miraculous properties throughout the ages. Did you realize that practically every holy text in the ancient Middle East is loaded with references of olive oil? The Bible contains over one hundred mentions of olive oil. Olive oil was adopted for use in medications, beauty creams, and as oil for lamps. It had also been used regularly in the diet as well as for a general therapeutic compound.

Olive Oil History Origins

Olive trees can live for hundreds of years. There are almost a billion olive trees on earth. Olives were initially grown within the eastern area of the Mediterranean about many thousands of years ago. Olive farming extended into Egypt, Greece, and Turkey, and then arrived at the southern part of Italy, France. Italy has been making olive oil since the first millennium. It powered the overall economy in ancient society. It was considered as valuable as gold.

Ancient History of Olive Oil - Ancient Greek and Romans Love of Olive Oil

Ancient Greek Olympic athletes massaged it onto their physiques before competing. They were convinced that it gave them power and energy. Ancient Olympic torches were made from burning olive branches. Plus, the winners were awarded with olive oil and an olive branch.

Both the ancient Greeks and Romans thought that olives were created by the gods. The Greeks thought that Athena, the goddess of wisdom, created olives. She created them to win a contest amongst the gods for creating the most valuable gift. Roman mythology explains the origins of olives as coming from Hercules. When Hercules hit the ground, an olive tree started to grow.

The Code of Hammurabi from thousands of years ago gives the penalty of death to anyone who cuts an olive tree more than two feet in a year's time.

More Recent History of Olive Oil

The first olive trees were brought to the New World around the 18th century by Spanish missionaries.

Nowadays, Italy, Greece and Spain are the main manufacturers of olive oil. The Mediterranean region still makes almost 100% of olive oil around the world. California, with its weather similar to the Mediterranean regions, is turning into a major manufacturer as well.

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      coffeesnob 7 years ago

      I have used olive oil to anoint people when I pray for them.