Saturday, August 17, 2013

Olives and Olive Oil in Ancient Greece

Aristotle described the cultivation of the olive as a science. Plato taught under the shadow of an olive tree. Hippocrates used oil as a medicine for at least 60 illnesses and diseases, including gynaecological problems, wounds, burns etc. The Athenians gave a certain importance to the cultivation of olives since the 6th century BC, when Solon drafted the first laws referring to the protection of the trees, providing stringent punishments to those who tried to cut them.   At the time of Solon, oil was the only product that could be exported from Athens in order to buy wheat from the Black Sea. However, it was not widely used, during his time; it was mainly used for religious purposes. However, after the 6th century the production of olives and olive oil grew. Athens was the centre of production of olives and olive oil. Olive oil was also used during the ancient games, mainly the Olympics and the Panathinaia, i.e. the games dedicated to the patron Goddess of Athens, Athena. The winners used to receive tons of olive oil, making them wealthy people within the society of Athens.

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