Olive oil and history

Olive oil and history

The history of olive and olive oil is dated back to the ancient times. The olive reflects thousands of years of Greek history and tradition, with the olive tree to be considered sacred and highly protected. It was a symbol of peace, victory, wisdom and friendship of the people. Τhe winners of the Olympic games were crowned with a wreath of olive, the cotinus.

The wild olive tree, first appeared in the east Mediterranean, but the first olive tree cultivation took place in the greek territory and more specifically in Crete, during the prehistoric period. The primordial relationship of the olive tree with Greece is also confirmed by the fact that the Greek origin of the olive name “elia” has been incorporated in most European languages: olive (engl.), olive (fr.), oliva, oliven, oliwkowy, olajboyo etc.

Recent archaeological research in the heart of the Aegean, the Cyclades, brought to light fossilized olive leaves, which date back to 50.000-60.000 B.C.

Amphorea, ceramic jars and mosaics with decorations showing phases of olive tree cultivation, found in excavations and shipwrecks, prove the significant role of the olive oil in the Minoan and Mycenean periods. Apart from the economical benefits of the cultivation and the trading of olive oil, it was very important for the social and religious life of greek people. Olive oil was used on the bodies of athletes and warriors for more strength and protection, as an offer to Gods and deads and for other every day uses. Hippocrates recommended it as “iama”, a medicine suitable for sixty different uses.

Over the years, the olive oil, the” liquid gold”, as it was named by Homer, has maintained a special place in the life of Greeks, as an integral component of their daily diet.

Nowadays, 95% to 97% of the global olive oil production derives from the Mediterranean basin, and our country is the third largest producer after Spain and Italy. However, qualitywise, the Greek extra virgin olive oil is the leader worldwide.