The History of Oil
- The origin of oil
The first evidence of cultivated olives dates back to over 6.000 years ago in the Middle East: which, initially, the olive oil was used as an ointment for skin, lamp oil or even taken as medicine. Subsequently, around 3500 a.C., there were the first signs of olive cultivation even in areas not suitable from the point of view of climate, a clear sign of efforts to spread the cultivation of this fruit.
- In 2500 a.C
In 2500 a.C. the Babylonian Code of Hammurabi regulated the production and trade of olive oil, while in Egypt, Even before the beginning of the nineteenth dynasty (1300 a.c.), the branches of the olive tree adorned the tombs of the Pharaohs. Subsequently, thanks to the Greeks, the cultivation of olive trees began to spread in the Mediterranean. To demonstrate the importance of the olive tree, it is present in a number of Greek legends. The Greeks tell us that in fact the first olive tree was sprouted from the goddess Athena on the Acropolis during the contest with the god Poseidon for supremacy in the region of Attica; Zeus decreed the gift of Athena as the most useful to the Athenians, for its use in food preparation, in the care of the person and as a source of light. And more: Apollo was born under an olive tree, while his son Aristaeus, After learning how to graft the wild olive nymphs to have a bountiful harvest, taught men to the olives to extract the oil.
- Roman Empire
But it is with the rule of Rome in the Mediterranean that witnessed at the time of greatest development of olive growing: The Romans spread the plant in all conquered territories and even the payment of taxes imposed in the form of olive oil. Thanks to the Romans, the cultivation process, improved oil extraction and preservation, and the diffusion of the product came up to the territories of northern Europe. Still, the Romans began to divide the types of oil as a function of time of the crushing. It is so identified five qualities of oil: "The oil from the white ulivis", from the pressing of green olives; "The oil is green", from olives harvested at a more advanced stage of maturation; "Oil is ripe", da olive mature; "The oil and decay", of olive cadute land and "oleum cibarium", obtained from olives almost dried. The oil is also present in Roman mythology, which attaches to the introduction of the olive Hercules from North Africa. The goddess Minerva would then taught the art of cultivation and extraction of oil men. With the fall of the Roman Empire, the cultivation of the olive tree fell into disgrace, For hundreds of years the olive trees survived only in a few regions
- Middle Ages
In the Middle Ages had a function of subsistence agriculture rather than commercial, and for this reason the best lands were recovered to produce basic grains. In this period a preferred food of animal fat (due to their longer shelf life) more than oil. They were mainly religious orders to possess most of the olive trees; In fact, the oil was widely used for liturgical functions. It was only around the 1100 d.c. that the olive trees begin to bloom in Italy, thanks to the commercial middle class, who discovered the oil trade a major source of income.
- 1300 -1400
During the fourteenth century, two schools of thought regarding condiments. One part, populations of northern Europe assert the primacy of animal fats, while in the south, especially in Italy, the oil becomes the natural condiment for each type of preparation. In 1400 Italy was the largest producer of olive oil in the world, and offered a unique oil that graced the tables of the Renaissance in Europe.
In 1800 they began to catalog the olive tree and its fruit, classifying them according to the geographical origin. Also, thanks to continuing economic growth, the cultivation of olives was encouraged and his fame spread until it reaches the majority of European countries. The Italian product par excellence continued more and more to be known, and it was right in the middle of the eighteenth century that defined his vocation olive Tuscany, extending a maximum of olive cultivation. In the same period, Franciscan missionaries brought the first olive trees in the New World; One hundred years later, olive oil made its commercial debut in America thanks to the Italian and Greek immigrants who began to ask for their import from Europe.
This brings us to the twentieth century. In the decades after the war and the economic boom of the oil, element considered poor, saw significantly reduce the value of their nutritional ingredient and was gradually replaced by more "rich" fat animals. The twenty-first century decreed the success of the Mediterranean diet and the consequent re-evaluation of the nutritional value of one of its key elements, olive oil. Olive oil has thus become one of the most appreciated food in the world.