Although nowadays the olive tree and olive oil are well known, this reputation has been hardly worked over millennia giving benefit to the humanity in different ways dealt on other sections of this blog.
No wonder at all that so many pages talking about this product and there are so many people involved in extending the benefits that provide both olive oil and the culture and the way of life that exists around it.
Let’s learn as much as possible about the history that comes with this product so as to see if we catch anything about it.
The first traces of use of the Olive tree appear in the top Paleolithic, about 12000 year, always being based on wild olive trees of varieties that have survived until today (acebuche). Using the same wild Olive trees, the culture of the olive cultivation began about 3000-4000 ac, in the zone of Syria, Israel, called the Middle East.
From these wild varieties, farmers began to artificially select those which were granting better performance depending of the places they were producing, and from these improvements, Phoenicians become main technicians, producers an merchants of this emerging industry, even emergent six centuries later.
It’s widely known the hardly marked trader and traveler character of Phoenicians, who Herodotus called “people thrown to the sea”. Phoenicians traveled around the entire Mediterranean sea from Byblos, Sidon, Tyro, etc to the famous Hercules columns and beyond , trading with all products they found in their tours. Phoenicians established colonies from a short distance from each other, and in this way, the olive culture and the olive techniques were taken to Hispania, Crete, Egypt, etc and from Crete and Egypt, this culture and the best varieties were cultivated in Greek.
From Greek, olive oil expands to Italy due the contact with Etruscans, but with the Roman Empire expansion, it is when the explosion of modern production methods and the olive oil trade along the Mediterranean Sea happens, due to this product was one of the most demanding by high level people around the empire
From east to western along the Mediterranean Sea, olive oil was impregnating the spiritual life being a principal piece of all the religious ceremonies including higher levels of their respective hierarchies. It’s said that one of the secret ingredients used to embalm the mummies of the Pharaohs is olive oil.
It is in this phase in which the production in the Iberian peninsula is established as the favorite origin of the oil for the Romans of Rome and mainly in the Italic Peninsula, so much it is, that the famous mount Testaccio is formed by 80 % of olive oil amphorae from the Province Baetica (what is equivalent practically to the current Andalusia in Spain)
After this flourishing age where Olive Oil was synonymous of social status, light, culture, civilization etc, the Fall of the Roman Empire come (not the film but the real one) and people from the north who took by force the token of an aged and decadent empire, looked down on their costumes, included the using of Olive Oil.
with the Muslim invasion of the south of Spain, founding the kingdom of Al-Andalus during eight centuries, Olive Oil, which is halal in his own being, was taken closing by Islam which used it in a widely variety of uses in cooking, medicine, cosmetics, etc etc. The huge Olive Tree fields inherited from the Roman Empire made the trade growing again intensively from Al-Andalus to the entire Mediterranean (and sometimes the European) area.
Since the discovering of America, after the fall of the last Moslem kingdom in the Iberian peninsula, the Kingdom of Granada, the plant of the olive tree, its fruits and its culture travelled across the Atlantic Ocean to grow in all the climates in which the olive tree was received well, taking to the ground the saying of which the area of the olive tree is the Mediterranean one, hereby the olive tree has great implantation and tradition in countries like Argentine, Chile and the United States (in California mainly)
Recently in the middle of this global world, Olive trees are being planted in Asian countries like China and Viet-nam in climate conditions clearly different from the Mediterranean ones.
From the Peace dove, bringing a freshly plucked olive leaf in its beak returning to the Noah’s ark, Olive oil is nowadays present around the world, the liquid gold is oiling all countries.
Maybe? Olive and olive oil have the next goal the international space station?