The history of the olive oil |

The history of the olive oil

Pontus Hagman2 comments

The historical development of olive growing began in the Mediterranean, in Jordan, ancient Egypt and the ancient empires.

Domestication of the wild olive

Historical remains indicate that the wild olive was domesticated about 7000 years ago in present-day Syria. The Phoenicians were among the first to dedicate themselves to the cultivation of olives. Historical records testify to the olive oil trade in ancient Greece and its wealth to the Greek population.

Ancient times olives

The earliest surviving olive oil

The olive oil production is assumed to have started before 4000 BC, and the earliest surviving amphorae date to 3500 BC.

The oldest olive tree in the world

Did you know that olive trees have a very long lifespan? The average lifespan of the olive tree is around 500 years. The olive tree of Vouves in Greece is believed to be over 2,000 years old, making it one of the oldest olive trees in the world, and it still produces olives today. Even if you neglect the olive tree for a hundred years, an olive tree can survive if grown in the appropriate growing conditions.

Ancient times

Many writers wrote on the importance of olive growing and olive oil health benefits through ancient times. For example, you can see olive oil mentioned amongst others in the work of Lucius Junius Moderatus Columella, Gaius Plinius Secundus, Marcus Valerius Martialis. In addition, in many religions, the olive is mentioned as a sacred tree.

Roman times

The Roman Empire already had olive studies and manuals (De Re Rustica), which included all the essential elements that are still the foundation on which modern olive growing and production developed. Olive oil was used for its nutritional value and as a medicine for body massage and hygiene. In contrast, Romans used inferior quality olive oils for oil lamps.

The 18th and 19th centuries 

Demand for olive oils increased in both European and non-European countries in the 18th and 19th centuries. As a result, many olive groves were rejuvenated, but also many were newly planted. As the olive oil production took expansion, the knowledge about olives and olive oil grew. As a result, techniques of olive growing and olive oil extraction have advanced considerably to this day.

Olive plantation


Today, olives are grown all around the world. More than two thousand different olive varieties from Australia to Chile, California to Iran, but only a thousand grow in the Mediterranean. The most famous olive growing regions in the world are in Southern European countries. Olive growing is one of the primary agriculture sectors in many of those countries.

As in the last twenty years, special attention is on homemade, natural, and as few processed foods as possible. A healthy lifestyle and numerous benefits of the Mediterranean diet made this diet more popular than ever. As olive oil is the foundation of a healthy Mediterranean diet, this additionally popularised olive oil consumption. New scientific researchers keep discovering what has always been known - that extra virgin olive oil is rich in quality fats, vitamins, polyphenols, and minerals. Moreover, extra virgin olive oil helps maintain a healthy body from the first months of life.

Thanks to technological advances, today, we can produce better quality olive oil, extract only the best and healthiest ingredients from this small fruit, and allow ourselves to enjoy olive oil's taste and health properties.

Comments (2)


Hi Elisabeth,

I’m glad to hear you enjoy our articles. We are posting regularly different topics from stories of our producers to olive oil history, production, best olive oils etc. Feel free to explore our blog, or if you have a specific question or topic you would like us to cover, feel free to write to us. :) We love getting new ideas.

Enjoy, and thank you for your comment. We love hearing from our readers.

Best regards,



Great article! I just started learning about olive oils. You covered so many interesting olive oil topics. Thank you for sharing.

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