For thousands of centuries, civilizations have used the olive for a variety of reasons. The use of the olive goes back so far that it is extremely difficult to pinpoint when exactly the olive was first used for it's oil. The Romans, Greeks, Egyptians, Mesopotamian's and Israelite's were all early civilizations who utilized the olive for it's oil. Recent studies have even shown that olive oil may have been used as early as 6,000 B.C.. Even though we may never fully know who was first civilization to utilize the olive, one thing we can be sure of is that olive oil was a cherished tradition of many cultures throughout the world.
There are many sources including biblical scriptures that show just how powerful the early civilizations believed olive oil to be. Sacred instruments used in the early churches would be anointed in olive oil to bless the instrument as well as preserve it. Priests and even newly appointed Kings would be anointed in olive oil as it was believed the oil was not only a symbol of holiness, but that it would bring good fortune to those that were blessed in it. Temples were lit with lanterns that burned olive oil. Newborn children were blessed with olive oil as a symbol of new life. The early civilizations believed that through the olive there was a powerful connection to the divine.
When civilizations began to expand into new regions they took olive trees with them. The olive tree has a unique ability to survive in some of the most stressful environments. When Spanish conquistadors began settling into what is now Central America and Mexico, they planted olive trees around early church missions. As the Spanish priests moved north into California the olive trees went with them. It is in California where the olive tree really began to thrive. California's rich soil and Mediterranean climate helped created an abundance of olives.
As olive trees began to spread and different cultures started to use the olive, they found many different uses for it's precious oil. People would apply olive oil to skin to protect them from the harsh summer heat. Olive oil was used to grease wheel axles and protect metal from rusting. Olive oil was used for cooking and even for medicinal purposes. In recent years we have discovered the health benefits of olive oil in our diets and in our skin care. Heart healthy diets are rich in olive oil and have shown the ability to help reverse the ageing process both internally and externally.
Historically, olive oil has been at the very foundation of civilization. It is one of the few pieces of history that will forever connect us to some of the earliest cultures. It truly is the fruit of life.