How Was Olive Oil Stored in Ancient Times?

Olive oil has been a part of human civilization for thousands of years. It is one of the oldest and most important oils used in cooking, skincare, and medicine.

The earliest records of olive oil production date back to around 4000 BCE in the Mediterranean region. But have you ever wondered how olive oil was stored in ancient times? Let’s explore.

Earthenware Jars

In ancient times, earthenware jars were commonly used for storing olive oil. These jars were made out of clay and had a narrow neck with a small opening at the top.

This shape helped to prevent air from entering the jar and spoiling the oil. The jars were also coated with a layer of resin to provide an airtight seal.


Another popular method of storing olive oil was in amphorae, which were also made out of clay. These jars had two handles on either side for easy transportation and storage. Amphorae were often decorated with intricate designs or symbols that represented the region where they were produced.

Bronze Urns

During the Roman Empire, bronze urns were used for storing olive oil. These urns had a spout on one side for pouring and a lid that could be sealed to keep out air and moisture. Bronze was chosen because it was durable and resistant to corrosion.

Animal Skins

In some cultures, animal skins were used to store olive oil. The skins would be treated with salt to prevent rotting and then filled with oil before being sealed shut. While this method was not as effective as using earthenware or bronze containers, it was still commonly used due to its affordability.


In conclusion, there were several methods used for storing olive oil in ancient times. Earthenware jars, amphorae, bronze urns, and even animal skins were all used to keep the oil fresh and prevent spoilage.

These methods have evolved over time, but the importance of proper storage remains the same. Today, we use modern containers made from materials like glass or stainless steel to store olive oil in a safe and effective way.