History of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

History of Extra Virgin Olive Oil Olive were likely first domesticated in the Mediterranean basin some 6,000 years ago or so. It is thought that oil from the olive was one of several attributes that likely made the bitter fruit attractive enough to result in its domestication. However, the production of olive oil, that is to say, the deliberate pressing of oil out of olives, is currently documented no earlier than 2500 BC.

  Olive oil was used for variety of purposes, including lamp fuel, pharmaceutical ointment and in rituals for anointing royalty, warriors and others. The term «messiah», used in many Mediterranean-based religions, means «the anointed one», perhaps (but of course, not necessarily) referring to an olive oil-based ritual. Cooking with olive oil may not have been a purpose for the original domesticators, but it began at least as long ago as the 5th-4th century BC, as described by Plato.

The influence and movement of the olive tree and olive oil was very extensive. The words used for olives and olive oil in modern languages still give a hint of these ancient movements. Where the trees were brought by the Greeks, the olive tree was called by the Greek term elaia, today elia, and olive oil was called elaioladho.

  The Latin word olea is a corruption of elaia. Olea in turn migrated into the Romantic languages, so that even the English word oil reflects that linguistic descent. Where the olive followed the Phoenician trading routes, words that stem from the Semitic word for olive, zeit, are common: sait, taiti, even tat in Egypt. Further west in Morocco, the olive oil was known by one of these Semitic variants. The Phoenicians were said to be the first to plant olive trees on the Iberian Peninsula. The Romans greatly expanded the orchards, but the Moors thoroughly expunged almost all traces of Rome in their 7th century conquest of Iberia and centuries-long occupation of Spain. Today, traces of Arabic remain in modern Spanish: olive oil is aceite.