Herodotus 484-425 B.C., the Greek historian, in his writings says that Athens in the 5th century, was the center of olive oil cultivation. Aristotle, one of the greatest philosophers of the ancient Greece, said that the cultivation of the olive tree was a science.
In the Iliad and Odyssey are many references for olive oil, made by Homer, who calls it “liquid gold.” To the Greek people, olive oil has been a daily food which is necessary for health, religious ceremonies and the economy.
By the year 1500 B.C. Greece became the largest producer in the word and the Greeks emigrated in Italy, France, Spain, northern Africa and they established trade with these new cultures, with olive oil being the main currency.
The 7th century B.C. Attica was full of olive orchards. The olive tree was sacred and the Athenian statesman Solon, legislated a law, that protected the olive trees in Attica. Anyone who did harm to an olive tree, would be given the death penalty. At the time he forbid-ed olive oil exporting. During the Panatheneae, the most important athletic contest, the winners got 5 tons of olive oil stored in a huge vessel, amphorae, were not included in this law. The winners enjoyed the potential results of becoming wealthy.
Geografically Greece is difficult to cultivate because of its steep and rocky landscape. The much needed grain production was not enough to sustain the population and in exchange for grains, wine and olive oil were exported.
The Greeks discovered that planting the fields with olive trees, the financial return was greater than any other crop. Olives and olive oil were easier to transport in containers and without special care.
To the mid of the 6th century B.C. the Corinthians dominated the trade in the West. Stunning gold and silver jewelry, precious stones, marble and limestone, luxury textiles, honey, olives and Corinthian pottery full of olive oil, were exported in return of grains.
The laws of Solon increased the olive oil production and surplus for exporting and Greece became a super power in the Mediterranean region. Olive oil was the most important commodity until the Romans took over the world.
In the Greek mythology the olive tree is mentioned quite a lot and many of the gods and goddesses were born under it’s shade.
Doctors, artists, historians, gods and goddesses, prophets and priests have praised its qualities. The olive tree has been referred as sacred and immortal and history reveals its significant role that has played in the Greek culture.