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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 where the Phoenicians were among the first to dedicate themselves to the cultivation of olives. Historical records testify to the oil trade in ancient Greece, to the wealth that the olive tree brought to the Greek population.
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
The average lifespan of the olive tree is around 500 years. However, the olive tree of Vouves in Greece is believed to be over 2,000 years old. Vouves olive tree is probably one of the oldest olive trees in the world; it still produces olives today. Even if the olive tree has been neglected for a hundred years, an olive tree can survive if grown in the appropriate growing conditions.
In ancient times, the importance of olive growing was witnessed by Lucius Junius Moderatus Columella, Gaius Plinius Secundus, Marcus Valerius Martialis and many others who wrote about the nutritional value and health effects of olive oil and olives. Many writers wrote about the symbolism and significance of the olive as a sacred tree in many religions.
In the Roman Empire, they 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, but also 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 on olive oils increased in both European and non-European countries in the 18th and the 19th century. Countries rejuvenated many olive farms or planted new ones. With olive oil production expansion, the knowledge about olives and oil grew. Techniques of olive growing and olive oil extraction have advanced considerably to this day.
Today, olives are grown all around the world. There are about two thousand different olive varieties from Australia to Chile, from California to Iran, but only a thousand are grown in the Mediterranean.
Olive growing is one of the essential agricultural branches in Southern European countries. According to many scientists, olive oil is the foundation of a healthy Mediterranean diet, the world's healthiest diet, which also popularized olive oil consumption.
In the last twenty years, special attention is on all those homemade, natural, and as little processed foods as possible.
New scientific discoveries have confirmed what has always been known - that extra virgin olive oil is rich in quality fats, vitamins, polyphenols, and minerals. 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 from this small fruit only the best and healthiest ingredients, and allow ourselves to enjoy olive oil's taste and health properties.