The Mediterranean is the iconic home of the olive where it has been an essential aspect of life for thousands of years. The olive tree produces olives (olea europaea) which are known to have been cultivated around the Mediterranean about 6000 years ago.
Stone tablets discovered dating back to 2500 BC from the court of King Minos of Crete mention the olive plant, recommending that cultivation began in Greece.
For decades now, throughout the history of Mediterranean, the olive was a symbol of wealth, fame and peace. It played a critical role in culture, the arts, trade, technology and the economy.
There are myths and legends abound glorifying the powers of this “Liquid Gold” as it was referred to by Homer in the Iliad. Olive Oil was a standard staple in routine life with the olive and its oil being a huge part of the diet.
A handful of meats were always kindly oiled before and after cooking. The ancient Greeks created the salad dressing which was topped with Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Balsamic Vinegar, sea salt and honey.
- In addition to being a healthy food, Olive Oil was a main source of light and was highly prized as fuel especially for religious ceremonies.
- As a beauty routine, wealthy societies drizzled Olive Oil all over their bodies and abundantly bathed with it as did the athletes participating in ancient Greek games.
- Olive Oil also acted as a foundation for perfumes and cosmetics, which were highly prized during the Hellenistic and Roman periods.
- Believing Olive Oil had natural healing powers, Hippocrates was a pioneer medical practitioner who used Olive Oil based ointments to take care of wounds and traumas.
- By the Middle Ages, Olive Oil continued to reveal new curative properties as it became a well-known remedy for sore throats, cuts and bruises.
- In the modern era, we continue to use olive oil in a variety of the same ways our ancestors did. In cooking, beauty, and health, we can find Olive Oil at the core of all exceptional applications.