HISTORY OF OLIVE OIL
The olive tree Olea Europea Oleaster, which has been existing in the East Mediterranenan region called Asia Minor, was domesticated most probably in Iran, Syria, Phalestine and Anatolia 6000 years ago. Olive tree and olive travelled to Cyprus and Crete in 3000 BC, Egean islands and costs in 2000 BC and reached Italy in 1000 BC. The olive tree with mediterranean origins was brought by Christian missioneries to Mexico, Argentina, Peru and Chili in 16th century and in 18th century olive ranches were being developed in North America. Today, this plant is seeing a big interest in a wide spread geographical area, like New Zealand, Australia, Sotuh Africa, and even China.
The human race has been sharing an incredible adventure for thousands of years by fertilizing the wild olive trees, introducing this tree to other trans-ocean places and transferring their agricultural knowledge to the next generations.
A relief from 3000 BC in the Museum of Egypt is the oldest known ornament related to olive. Olive tree, olive leaves and olive flower figures can be seen on many vases adn wall reliefs in Crete from 1600 BC.
The olive tree in Islam is almost as old as Adam has stepped foot on earth. As written in Kısas-ı Enbiya, Adam was feeling pain in his skin and complained to God about it. Gabriel brought him an olive tree and said: Eat the fruit of this tree and extract oil from it, which has healing power to all kinds of pain.
In Greek mythology, Zeus, the God of all Gods was the judge about who will be the protector of Athens. Zeus promissed whoever brings the most useful gift for the humanity, he/she will be the Godfather (protecting God) of this city and the city will be named after him/her. Poseidon, God of Seas knocked his three headed spear to the earth and a majestic horse appeared. Then Zeus’ daughter, God of Wisdom, Athena knocked her spear to teh earth and an olive tree sprouted from the ground. Zeus saw the silvery leaves shining under sun and left the ownership of the cith without a doubt to Athena.
Twelve offsprings from this olive tree have been planted to the garden og Academy in Athens and from these plants developed Athens’ holy trees. These holy olive trees known as moriae were protected with special law as mentioned by Heredotos. The law punished one with death, who cut even one branch of the olive tree without permission. In Panathinakos Games made once every four years for the Goddess Athena’s birthday, crowns made by olive branches were presented to teh winning athletes with amphoras filled with oive oil made from the olive trees of Goddess Athena.
In ancient times, Ephesus, the most important centre of Artemis cult, claimed that the olive tree under which Apollon and Artemis were born, was in their city.
Aristaeus teached how to plant and fertilize olives from wild trees, ploughing the soil, harvesting the olives and designed the first olive press.
Olive tree was also important for Romans. It is believed that Romus and Romulus brothers, who come from Gods’ bloodline and built the city of Rome were born under an olive tree.
Holy Quran also honours olive and fig trees by swearing to them in Surah Tin.
1,400 years ago the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad, advised his followers to apply olive oil to their bodies, and himself used oil on his head. The use of oil is found in many religions and cultures. It has been used during special ceremonies as well as a general health measure. During baptism in the Christian church, holy oil, which is often olive oil, may be used for anointment. At the Christmas mass, olive oil blessed by the bishop, “chrism”, is used in the ceremony. Olive oil was used to anoint the early kings of the Greeks and Jews. The Greeks anointed winning athletes. Olive oil has also been used to anoint the dead in many cultures.
OLIVE IN TURKEY
Klazomenai, the olive city of 6th century, exists in Aegean region. Recently, the evidence of the first olive trading was found in Urla, the village of Izmir.
An important workshop used for exportation added a new information to the history. Just like the 1300-year-old tree found in Mut, or the olive oil stores found in Izmir, or the words about Kücükkuyu that are used by Zeus in Iliad: “There is a place between Aegean’s blue and Ida’s green, I have never eaten such a breakfast with delicious kinds of olives in an atmosphere where there is a strong smell of thyme. That place is called GARGARA.”
1- Erythrai next to Çeşme (Ildır): An ancient city, one of the most important olive oil export center in 6th century BC.
2- Urla : An olive oil extraction installation from 6th century and olive storages from 3000-2000 BC were found in here.
3- Izmir : The olive trees under where Homeros had been reading his epics to his friends and dining them in 1199 BC. From the Epic of Iliad.
4- Miletos : Thales had been forecasting the following year’s olive productivity with his meteorological studies.
5- Kas Uluburun : Some olive remnant was found in Uluburun wreck.
6- Mut: A 1300 years old olive tree still lives here.
7- Hatay : The motherland of olive. It has the second oldest olive tree in Turkey. Its stem diameter is 110cm.
8- Agrı : Doves taking the olive branches to Noah’s Arc have been the symbol of peace for years.
9- Antalya: In 2017 Archaeologists in Turkey have uncovered a 2,000-year-old olive press, the oldest such device ever found in the Anatolia region. The press was uncovered during an excavation of the Lyrboton Kome settlement near the southern Turkish city of Antalya. Of particular interest to the archaeologists is that Lyrboton Kome was founded and run by a woman.
1. Zeytin Kitabı; Mahmut Boynudelik, Zerrin İren Boynudelik