How Was Olive Oil Used in Ancient Times?

Olive oil has been an essential part of Mediterranean cuisine and culture for thousands of years. The use of olive oil dates back to ancient times, where it was not only used for cooking but also had various other uses.

History of Olive Oil

The cultivation of olive trees is believed to have originated in the Mediterranean region around 5000 BCE. The Greeks and Romans were known to have used olive oil extensively for cooking, medicinal purposes, and even in religious ceremonies.

During ancient times, olive oil was considered a luxury item and was often used as a form of currency. It was also used as a fuel for lamps and as a cosmetic product for hair and skin care.

Medicinal Properties

In ancient times, olive oil was believed to have medicinal properties. It was commonly used to treat various ailments such as wounds, digestive problems, and respiratory issues.

Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, recommended the use of olive oil for healing wounds and skin infections. The Romans also used olive oil to treat muscle pain and inflammation.

Cooking with Olive Oil

Olive oil was an essential ingredient in ancient Mediterranean cuisine. It was commonly used for frying, sautéing, and as a salad dressing.

The Greeks were known to use olive oil in their famous dishes such as moussaka and dolmades. The Romans also enjoyed using it in their dishes such as pasta sauces and roasted meats.

Religious Significance

Olive oil played an important role in religion during ancient times. In Christianity, it is considered a symbol of purity and is used during baptism ceremonies.

In Judaism, olive oil is used to light the menorah during Hanukkah celebrations. The ancient Greeks also believed that olive trees were sacred and closely associated with their goddess Athena.


In conclusion, the use of olive oil has been an integral part of Mediterranean culture and history for thousands of years. From its use in cooking to its medicinal properties and religious significance, olive oil has played a significant role in ancient times.

Today, olive oil continues to be a staple ingredient in Mediterranean cuisine and is widely used around the world. Its health benefits have also been recognized, making it a popular choice for those looking to maintain a healthy diet.