Did you know that fresh olives are poisonous? The olives that we eat every day are cured which makes them pefectly safe to ingest. Consumption of olives and olive oil has been steadily increasing for the last few decades. The health benefits have been a major force behind this increase. However many abcient civilizations considered olives to be the center piece of their diet and culture. Culture's were judged by the ancient Greeks on the their sophistication of olive cultivation. Olicves and olive oil were used in may ways, including as medicines and balms to be rubbed into wounds to enhance healing.
Olive oil prominence really began to take hold in the 5th century B.C. Demand grew and great trading empires flourished as more and more cultures embraced the value of the olive. There had never been another commodity with as many applications as the ever growing demand for the olive continued. King David had sent guards to protect his olive groves, emphasizing the value he had put on the olive tree.
Another reason the olive trees were so highly prized was that they could grow on hillsides that were barren and void of other crops. This left other more fertile ground for other crops. At one point you could be condemned to death for cutting down an olive tree in ancient Greece. Ships were built to haul olives exclusively which fostered trade across the Mediterranean.
The olive was used in many cultural settings also. It was believed it could ward off evil spirits and if worn would bring prosperity and luck to the person wearing the olive leaves. It was believed to ensure fertility in women andsexual potency in men. It was mixed many of the herbs of the day as medicines and cosmetics.
Soap makers from ancient civilizations discovered by accident that mixing olive oil from the runoff of volcanic areas would produce bubbles and cleansing properties. This is one of the earliest recorded events relating to the origins of soap making. Through many iterations of mixing olive oil with different concentrations of lye water soap making was perfected. The natural properties of the olive (rich in vitamin E) made for outstang soap that was great for your skin and made an excellent cleansing compound that has stood the test of time and is still favored today.