Origin and history of olive oil
Whether for its health benefits or its gustatory qualities, olive oil has been produced and used since ancient times and is fully part of the Mediterranean diet today. Discover in this article the origin and history of olive oil!
Olive oil, the history of a product that dates back to Antiquity
Mediterranean societies have been practising olive growing for more than 6000 years. Olive oil has always been a key ingredient of the Mediterranean or Cretan diet. Nevertheless, it has also had some influence on the rituals and traditions of mankind. Both the olive tree and olive oil have long been considered sacred. The Egyptians, at the time of the pharaohs, were great consumers of olive oil. They imported it from Crete for their funeral rites and purification rites. Similarly, there are many quotations dealing with olive oil or the olive tree in certain religious texts. Indeed, a dove brings an olive branch to Noah to announce the end of the flood for example and in Islam, olive oil holds “the baraka” or magic power.
From the 16th century BC, the Phoenicians established the olive tree in Greece and then throughout the Mediterranean. With the Romans, the number of mills and olive tree plantations multiplied in order to satisfy the needs of the population who used olive oil for food but also for its medicinal virtues.
The various uses of olive oil through time
Olive growing has played a major role in the agricultural economy of Mediterranean countries. The Minoans of Crete were among the first people to become rich from olive oil. Numerous discoveries prove that they used olive oil for food, body care, cosmetics, lighting and as a medicine.
In Ancient Greece, Greeks used olive oil extensively but its use depended on the social status of the individual. The poorest could expect to be able to season a meal while the rich used it in cooking, care or lighting. Also, having therapeutic and medicinal virtues, olive oil was widely used by ancient Greek physicians. Hippocrates mentioned more than 60 different uses for wounds, infections and burns. In addition, during funeral ceremonies, olive oil was offered to the deceased along with other products such as honey or wine. Finally, during the Olympic Games, Greek athletes used to coat their bodies with olive oil before their events. However, it was also used as a reward for the winners who received a large quantity of it.
Today, olive oil is still an integral part of our daily lives, especially in cooking and cosmetics. The olive oils produced by French olive growers have many virtues that will seduce you, do not hesitate any longer and discover our extra virgin, PDO, AOC and organic olive oils!