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What is the ancient history of making olive oil?

The Romans made significant contributions to what olive oil is today, perfecting its cultivation and transportation techniques. They consumed large quantities of olives and olive oil from the Baetica region of Spain (modern-day Andalusia). In fact, the oil from Spain was the most prized in the empire for its high quality. It is estimated that Spain exported more than 30 million containers of olive oil during this period, thousands of which were sent to the imperial capital, Rome.

The remains of many of the vessels in which the oil was transported were discovered in the late 19th century AD, when the Italo-Prussian scientist Heinrich Dressel discovered them buried on a Roman hill. Investigating their origin, he discovered that the inhabitants of that time threw away empty vessels from Baetica on the left bank of the Tiber River. The fragments, together with the soil that had accumulated over time, formed the hill that is today known as Testaccio.

During the Middle Ages, olive oil was often used to make soap in Spain and neighboring France. Not surprisingly, it had many uses, such as fuel to light homes or an ingredient in cosmetics. But its main use was and remains for food purposes. Olive oil, whether extra virgin, virgin or just olive, is perfect for any recipe.

Later, in the 19th century AD, olive oil cultivation expanded in Spain thanks to the construction of the railway network. Thanks to this new mode of transport, the country became the largest olive garden in the world.

In the 20th century AD, a technological revolution in Spain made it possible to produce oil of even higher quality, which year after year wins the world’s most prestigious competitions. Today Spain is a world leader in the quantity and, above all, quality of olive oil.


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