History of Olive Oil

The wild olive tree, the “acebuche”, is a characteristic element within the species that integrate the formation of the Mediterranean forest and therefore it is common in all the European and African Mediterranean scope, but its domestication seems to have happened about 6,000 years before Christ in the zone extended between Asia and the Sinaí.

The certain thing is that the olive tree appears as a breeding already of great importance in the first civilizations of the Eastern Mediterranean, considered that it like sacred tree, symbol of wisdom, peace and glory.

Older testimonies refer to the importance of the commerce and the use of the oil at this time is picked up in mud small boards of the Mycenaean Greece. There have been found many of them where the industrial and nutritional uses are detailed that that was delivered in the court of mythical king Minos, in the palaces of Gnosos, Pilos, Tebas and Tirinto.

In the Egypt of the Pharaohs, the oil and the culture of the olive tree was not as much successful. Apparently in the kingdom of Rameses III it was tried in vain to work the olive tree. The failure forced the Pharaoh to use castor oil for the lighting system and for their ointments, but, nevertheless, olive oil of Palestine was imported for the feeding, offerings and perfumes. It is not to be strange either that it entered the egyptian prescriptions in their secret technique of embalming of corpses, around which an authentic legend has been created.

The Bible mentions infinity of times the oil, as much in religious uses as nutritional. It is enough with reviewing one of the most famous histories of the Genesis: the one of the deluge. We know that finished the meteorological cataclysm, the dove loosen by the father of Noah returned to the great ark with a branch of olive tree in its tip.

In classic Greece there are numerous samples that track the culture of the olive tree and the use of the oil. The technique of the “vareo” already was used, and scenes of Greek “vareadores” are shaped in decorated amphoras. For Greek the olive tree was a totemic tree, mainly for the athenian citizens, since the olive tree is in the origin of the foundation of polis. Until the Athenian legislation it established measures for his protection.

Plutarco refers that great Solon legislator arbitrated favorable measures for the plantation of the olive tree and sanctions of certain hardness for anyone who pulled out during the year they started more than two olive trees.

There are writings that say that this civilization considered that the honey was good for the interior of the body and the oil for the outside. This could explain the use that occurred in the care of the body, in a town that rendered excessively culture to the physicist. Athletes and fighters smeared their bodies, because besides putting them slippery for the practice of the fight, it gave brightness and flexibility to their muscles. It was also used for the hair and the body of the children, habits that have overcome very well the passage of time. It is attributed to the capable Phoenicians to have taught the cult Greeks the use of the oil as fuel, and the creation of lamps of mud or bronze, that had to be the precursors of the present oil lamps.

The Romans have similar uses for the olive oil. It has been used from making crowns of olive tree for the excellent Romans, to the diet of the farmers, composed by bread, oil, wine and salt, and its appearance in the first kitchen books.

Then, Andalusia was already witness, about thousand years b.C., of the splendor that reached the oil between all these old civilizations of the Mediterranean basin and the Near East.

The Tartessos were the first center of civilization of the West, while the rest of Spain and Europe lived the last year of Prehistory. For the 1,100 b.C., year on which the splendor of this civilization is placed, the Tirsenian of Asia already had founded, in the place that occupies the Park of Doñana now, a commercial colony that gave name to this Andalusian empire which dominated all the southern part of the Peninsula. The breeding the olive tree was already known in Asia and that the use of it extended from there, in successive swelling, to all the borders of the Mediterranean.

It has been established the existence in these centuries of a dynamic commercial traffic of one to another border of the Mediterranean basin.