History of Olives 101

Brush Up On Your Oil Education from the beginning

Olives are more ancient than most ancient civilizations! Use of the olive can be traced back to the Neolithic people, who existed in the 8th century BC. Although the earliest history of the cultivation of the olive tree is hazy, most of the evidence points toward domestication of the tree taking place on the isle of Crete in Greece. The containers that Greeks used to collect the olive oil date back to about 3500 BC, long before Socrates and the gang were waxing philosophical.

Olive oil was an incredibly powerful resource in ancient times. Homer called it “liquid gold”. Once it’s stored, olive oil will keep for at least a year. By that amount of time, a fresh harvest of olives would have been ready, anyway. This dependability, along with the many purposes the Greeks had for the oil, made it a hot trading commodity. Olive trees have been one of the most valuable cash crops for the Mediterranean since prehistoric times.  It was even mentioned in the bible as one of the as one of the ‘seven species.’

With the popularity of olive oil, more and more presses began appearing around the Mediterranean and beyond. Christopher Columbus introduced olive oil to the Americas in 1492. Without it being imported by Italian and Greek immigrants, the oil wouldn’t be available there. Now you know the history, you can start sampling and enjoying this small, yet flavourful treasure.


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