Olive oil history


The history of olives and olive oil goes back centuries. The olive tree is associated with thousands of years of Greek history and tradition. The olive tree was considered sacred and highly protected. It was a symbol of peace, victory, wisdom and friendship. With olive wreath, ‘kotinos’, crowned the winners of the Olympic Games.
The wild olive tree originated in the eastern Mediterranean, but the first olive cultivation took place in Greece and especially in Crete, during the prehistoric period. The primal relationship that oliveoil has with Greece is confirmed by the fact that the Greek name “olive” is maintained in most European languages: olive (engl.), Olive (fr.), Oliva, oliven, oliwkowy, olajboyo etc.
Recent archaeological excavations in Cyclades, the heart of Aegean sea, brought to light fossilized olive leaves, 50,000-60,000 years old.
It is indicative that findings from excavations and shipwrecks revealed amphoras, pottery utensils and murals depicting all stages of olive cultivation, demonstrating the dominance of olive oil both in the Minoan and the Mycenaean period. Apart from the economic benefits of growing olive oil, it was very important in social and religious life of Greeks. With olive oil they rubbed the bodies of athletes and warriors,they lit the lamps and also offered to gods and dead.
Hippocrates recommended it as a remedy,’iama’ medicine,ideal for sixty different uses.
Over the years, the olive oil, «liquid gold” as Homer called it, remained in a special place in life of Greeks, as an integral component of their daily diet.
Today, 95% – 97% of world oil production comes from the Mediterranean countries, with Greece as the third largest producing country, after Spain and Italy. However, the greek extra virgin olive oil ranks first in quality of extra virgin olive oils and it’s this superior quality that ensures international recognition.