History of the olive oil | Marqt.no

History of the olive oil

June 06, 2020

Reading time: 2 min

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 the area of 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.

Ancient times olives

The earliest surviving olive oil

The production of olive oil is assumed to have started before 4000 BC. 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 believed to be over 2,000 years old, is probably one of the oldest olive trees in the world; it still produces olives today. If growing in the appropriate growing conditions, an olive tree can survive in relative neglect for hundreds of years. 

Ancient times

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. Especially a lot was written about the symbolism and significance of the olive as a sacred tree in many religions.

Roman times

Back 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. Inferior quality oils were used for oil lamps.

The 18th and 19th centuries 

The oil trade was in full bloom. Demand on olive oils increased in European and non-European countries. Many plantations were rejuvenated, or new ones were planted. With olive oil production expansion, the knowledge about olives and oil grew. Techniques of olive growing and oil extraction have advanced considerably to this day.

Olive plantation


Today, olives are grown all around the world. There are about two thousand varieties of olives from Australia to Chile, from California to Iran, but only a thousand are grown in the Mediterranean.

Olive growing is one of the most essential agricultural branches in Southern European countries. Olive oil is the foundation of a healthy Mediterranean diet, according to many scientists, the healthiest diet in the world.

In the last twenty years, special attention has been paid to all those foods that are homemade, natural and as little processed as possible. New scientific discoveries have confirmed what has always been known - that olive oil is rich in quality fats, vitamins, polyphenols and minerals, that it 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 its taste and health properties.

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