Olive trees existed in the Mediterranean basin 6000 B.C. in the countries of Lebanon, Syria, and Palestine. The cultivation of olive trees started in the Phoenician colonies of the present territories of Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, and Israel. The Phoenicians spread the olive trees to the Mediterranean shores of Africa in the countries of Egypt, Crete, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco, and to the shores of southern Europe in Greece Sicily, Italy, Spain, and France.
Olive trees need three main criteria to produce the best olives.
- The tree itself
1. Lebanon has four seasons: hot summers, moderate falls, cold winters, and beautiful springs.
2. The soil in Lebanon has been known to be the best type of soil for olive trees.
3. Olive trees have been in Lebanon since 6000 B.C. Our Lebanese oil fits the criteria.
Olives have been found in Egyptian tombs from 2000 B.C. The olive culture was spread to the early Greeks, and then Romans. The use of oil is found in many religions and cultures. During baptism in the Christian church, holy oil (often olive oil!) is used for anointment. 1400 years ago, the prophet of Islam Muhammad advised his followers to apply olive oil to their bodies, and he himself used olive oil on his head. Olive oil was also used to anoint the early kings of the Greeks and the Jews.
Shrub-like “feral” olives still exist in the Middle East and represent the original stock from which all other olives are descended. In the past, olive oil was used for light heat, food, medicine, and perfume. In the land of the Hebrews, King Solomon and King David placed great importance on the cultivation of olive trees; King David even had guards watching over the olive groves and warehouses, ensuring the safety of the trees and their precious oil.
In 2000 B.C., ancient Israelites used precious olive oil for anointing priests and kings, and they used it to burn the temple lamps. In 1780 B.C. the Code of Hammurabi states that under penalty of death, no one can prune an olive tree more than two feet per year. In 776 B.C., the first Olympic games take place, and the winners are awarded an olive branch and olive oil. In 325 A.D., under the reign of Constantine, 2,300 oil distributors in the capital of the Empire supplied citizens with olive oil for cooking, cosmetics, massage, body care, lamps, and other uses.
In 1000 A.D., olive oil became rare and was sometimes used as cash, but most of all was used for religious rituals. In 1800 A.D., Franciscan missionaries planted olive trees at 19 of the 21 missions along 600 miles of the Californian coast. In 1920 A.D., European immigrants to the United States began to spread the use of olive oil into American cooking. Since 1980 to the present, knowledge of olive oil expanded and is expanding worldwide as numerous books on health and cooking with olive oil have been and are being published.
The olive tree belongs to the Oleaceae family and has a life span of around 600 years.
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