What Was Oil Used for in Ancient Times?

Oil has been used for various purposes throughout history, and its usage can be traced back to ancient times. This article explores the many ways oil was used in ancient times.

The Use of Oil in Ancient Civilizations

Oil was a valuable commodity in ancient times, and it was used for a wide range of purposes. Some of the earliest uses of oil were medicinal.

In fact, ancient Egyptians used castor oil as a laxative and olive oil as a moisturizer. Other civilizations like the Greeks and Romans also used oil for medicinal purposes.

Oil as Fuel

Apart from medicinal use, oil was also used as fuel in ancient times. Ancient Greeks and Romans used olive oil lamps to light up their homes and streets. Similarly, the Chinese and Japanese also used vegetable oils for lighting lamps.

Oil as Perfume

Another common use of oil in ancient times was as perfume. Egyptians are known to have been the first civilization to have discovered perfumes. They extracted fragrant oils from flowers like jasmine and lotus, which were then used for perfuming their bodies.

Oil in Food Preparation

Oil was also a crucial ingredient in food preparation in ancient times. For instance, olive oil was extensively used by Greeks and Romans for cooking and seasoning their food. Similarly, sesame seed oil was widely popular among the Babylonians for its flavoring properties.

Oil as Lubricant

In addition to its other uses, oil was also an essential lubricant in ancient times. The Egyptians are known to have used animal fat as lubricants for their chariots’ wheels during battles.


In conclusion, it’s evident that oil had diverse uses in ancient civilizations- from medicinal purposes to fueling lamps or seasoning dishes- this valuable commodity played an important role in everyday life. While the uses of oil have evolved over time, it remains a vital commodity in modern times as well.