Food - Drink
Olive Oil’s Many Uses Throughout History
By FELIX BEHR
Olive oil's popularity has endured through the ages, and evidence of the oil being used in cooking dates as far back as the fifth century BCE. As of 2022, studies on preserved bones from the famous buried city of Pompeii have provided new details on the many uses of olive oil throughout history.
Research shows that olive oil accounted for at least 12% of the diet of the average Pompeiian, meaning it was not merely a condiment or cooking aid. Archeologist Silvia Soncin says “[olive oil] was a proper ingredient" in dishes and a major source of energy for Pompeeians; however, its uses were not limited to culinary practices.
Olive oil has also been used for religious anointing ceremonies in Greek and Roman societies, and as a hygiene product to exfoliate the skin and draw out grime. The oil also helped create a nightlife in ancient times, because it could provide lasting artificial light without producing an overpowering smell or smoke.