Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Eliomylos Museum, Cyprus

The picturesque village of Kakopetria is the place where the Eliomylos Museum is located, right next to the Church of the Transfiguration of Our Saviour. The olive-press has been restored by the Cyprus Architectural Heritage Organisation and the European Union in the framework of the Programme “TRIMED: the culture of bread, oil and wine”, Culture 2000. 



Many ancient installations related to the production of olive-oil have been excavated. In addition to archaeological evidence, we have at our disposal countless historical sources, written and pictorial, referring to the production of olive-oil. Strabo mentions the Cypriot oil, which was famous for being light and easy to digest. The earliest installations for olive-oil production were simple, consisting of a sloping crushing floor connected to a lower collecting vat. Another simple method of crushing the olives in antiquity was by spreading the fruit onto a hard surface and rolling a large cylindrical stone over it. In the archaeological record of Cyprus there are no installations for the production of olive oil before the Late Bronze Age where stone-spouted press beds appear in Cyprus for the first time.
Olive-mill, “eliomylos”, is a term which indicates not only the installations used in the production but also the building where these installations were located. The installations for the production of olive-oil are either outdoor or indoor. The indoor olive-mills were comparatively small, single-room structures, which sheltered the basic installations for the olive-oil production (mill, press and fire-place). Many outdoor olive-mills are found in the courtyard or monasteries. This fact is not a coincidence, given that the Church was the major landowner and owned a large number of olive-groves.


Olives and olive-oil was a significant product of the island since they were used, not only in the Mediterranean cuisine, but also in the economic, cultural and religious aspects of the daily life. Besides cooking, olive-oil was necessary for illumination, for the preparation of cosmetics and for the practice of medicine.
Currently, olive trees are widely grown in the island. Many written sources refer to the olive grove and to the production of olive-oil in Cyprus. At the end of the 18th century, Archbishop Kyprianos in his work Chronological History of Cyprus mentions: ‘the olive-groves give enough quantity of olive oil enough for three years’. That is why Cyprus also exports olive oil.

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