Origin of olive oil Origen del aceite de oliva

ORIGIN OF OLIVE OIL

 
   

The origin of olive oil is not exact, but it is said to have arisen in the Tertiary period in Asia, in the region which would now be known as Syria and Iran. It belongs to the genus Olea that has many species all over the world. The cultivated species is the European Olea, subspecie 'sativa'. Although it seems logical that the cultivated oleaster species acebuche (Olea oleaster), or 'wild species', proceeded as a result of progressive transformation and improvement, there are some aspects that seem to contradict this theory: when the acebuche reproduces the next tree is faithfully reproduced with all its characters, however the cultivated olive tree seeds do not reproduce the characteristics of the trees which they come from, always giving Olivastro or wild olive trees. The typical characters of the cultivated species are only achieved when the manipulation is carried out using cuttings or by means of the shoots that arise from the base of the tree.

  

Olive fields

Painting of olive fields.

 

On the other hand, to complicate the problem, it was found that the acebuche or 'wild species', after being subjected to a lot of care and regular cultivation, experience certain changes, such as bearing thicker fruit,  but still poorer than those of Olea Europea. 

  

Also, contrary to what happens with most plants obtained by successive improvements of the corresponding wild trees, if abandoned it degenerates, but never takes on the characteristics of the wild olive.
In soil samples from west Peloponnese (southern Greek peninsula), which dates back to the twentieth century BC, there have been fossilized pollen grains found,  whose proportion continued increasing as we moved to a more modern strata, reaching its peak around the tenth century BC. Also in the Pliocene sites of Mongardino (Italy) olive leaf fossils have been found, as in the Upper Paleolithic strata of Relilai (Africa).
 
Among the plants listed in the inventory that Inen grew in his garden at Thebes (about 1500 BC) included were olive trees, whose its branches twisted some of the crowns found in the tombs of certain mummies of the pharaohs, as in the tomb of Tutankhamun, where the small crown surrounding the insignia of the vulture and cobra on the front of the second king, was composed of olive leaves, blue water lily petals and flowers of Centaurea.

 Source: www.aceitedeoliva.com

 
  

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