>In a recent post tittle “Green Oil,” I discussed the use of olive oil in Psalm 92:10. Archaeology Magazine recently interviewed Anagnostis Agelarakis, a physical anthropologist at Adelphi University about the production of olive oil in antiquity. Agelarakis and his wife produce premium extra virgin olive oil in Crete. In this interview they discuss the production on olive oil in ancient Greece and how olive oil was used in antiquity. The following are excerpts from the interview:
Q: Today, many people consider olive oil a health food. Did the ancient Greeks view it in a nutritional sense or was it valued simply for flavor or other properties?
A: It was not only considered as a health product but something that had in essence a divine power embedded in it–defined in a pragmatic way not in a occult or abstract way. It was a gift of the goddess Athena to the Athenians, therefore, it had the emblematic presence of the goddess.
Q: How was it used for a food product?
A: It was considered a necessary item for daily sustenance. It was used to cook with and also used in the raw form in a salad dressing–a salad dressing of the ancient Greeks involved olive oil, of course extra virgin olive oil, vinegar, sea salt, and some honey and that then was shaken well, and it was drizzled over salads that they were preparing for eating.
Q: Did olive oil have any medicinal uses in ancient Greece?
A: Hippocrates uses olive oil-based ointments for all kinds of uses and for treating trauma, scratches, wounds, and concussions that are not too deeply penetrating; it was considered to have healing power. In essence, it does because it contains the vital antioxidants scalene, flavonoids, and polyphenols at a minimum. Also, it has Omega components such as Omega 9, Vitamin A, Vitamin K, and traces of Vitamin C. It has Vitamin E, as well, which is in itself an antioxidant, so it has the ability to enhance and repair components of our skin. It is very important for our skin; our skin is the largest organ that we have. It also has in it essential amino acids that are absolutely necessary for a good function of the human gut, the alimentary tract, and the human body at large. Basically, it is a wonderful material that is completely natural. Remember, olive oil is the only vital oil from plants that you can eat raw and untreated. Obviously, being untreated of course it has no chemical additives; it hasn’t been manipulated in any sort of process that would adulterate it. It is really a gift from nature if not of the gods as the ancients firmly believed.
The article discusses the cultivation of lives and the production of olive oil in antiquity. It also discusses the use of olive oil in religion and sports and as food, medicine, and cosmetic.
The interview is very engaging and informative. If you like olive oil as I do, you will enjoy knowing more about the nutritional and medicinal properties of olive oil.
Professor of Old Testament
Tag: Olive Oil
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