History of olive oil in the Visigoth period El aceite de oliva en la epoca visigoda.

HISTORy of olive oil in the visigoth era

The Visigoths were a nomadic people from Northern Europe that the Romans defined as barbarians. Leading up to the V century A.D., after several clashes with the Roman power the Visigoths began to sign agreements or foedus with the Roman Empire, which held the domain of large parts of Europe. Through these pacts, the Visigoth people pledged to defend Roman property against the all other barbaric invasions, in return Rome recognised their right to settle on their lands.

At the beginning of the V century the Visigoths settled in Hispania through the means of a new foedus with Rome. It would take almost one hundred years until the Visigoth's consolidated their political power and set up a kingdom itself. The Hispanic Roman society that inhabitated the Peninsula came into contact with the new people who brought with them more unrefined customs. With the passing of time, both societies intergrated mutually. Christianity was the religion of the Roman Hispania and weight of the Church was increasing, coming to unite the whole society under their faith.

The Visigoth society was devoted mainly to livestock. Sheep, cow and pig were the predominant livestock species. Nothing from these animals was wasted: the wool was used to cover themselves and keep warm, milk was used to make cheese, the meat for food. However, agriculture developed to a lesser extent. In the Spanish upperlands the cultivation of cereals prevailed, especially wheat and barley.

When it came to cooking, the Visigoth culture brought as hertitage the consumption of animal fats such as pig lard and bacon. Nevertheless, they adopted the Mediterranean custom: the consumption of virgin olive oil that was considered to be "the civilised". Both traditions persisted dishes were made with animal fats but also with vegetable fats, fundamentally extra virgin olive oil.

Olive oil was much appreciated in Visigoth times

 Visigoths warriors. At this time the cultivation of olives and olive oil spread significantly.

In spite of the predominance of the livestock, in the Visigoth era, the cultivation of olive trees advanced and extended to even mountainous areas and areas with poor weather conditions. Saint Isidore of Seville in the sixth century said that the shadow of the olive trees covered the ground in Spain.

The cultivation of the olive tree was greatly improved during the Caliphate of Cordoba, the Guadalquivir sheltered valley, without doubt, had the best-known olive farms. But it wasn't only the Andalusia region that made the most of the arab region. Also Cataluña y Aragón possessed excellent olive groves.

By mid-twelfth century, Abu Zaccaria occupied an enormous area of olive groves surrounding Seville and the excellent quality of the oil produced in Astigi.
So much was the progression of Andalusian olives under Muslim rule, especially in the region of Aljarafe which was converted into an olive-green forest, that the words Jarafe or Ajarafe were used as a synonym for well-cultivated olive groves. The Arabs not only improved the cultivation techniques, the irrigation of the land and the making of olive oil, but also the manufacturing of large storage jars for oil. They were largely the discoverers of medicinal, cosmetic and culinary uses of olive oil, some of which are still in use today.




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