In ancient Rome, olive oil was not only considered “sacred”. It was also employed in the manufacture of perfumed creams and medicinal balms able to treat bleeding wounds, alleviate itching and care for the sting of nettles, and soldiers would even rub themselves with oil for protection from the cold.
The growth of the Roman Empire’s domination led to further development of the cultivation of the olive as the plant was brought to newly conquered lands.
The processing, the cultivation techniques, and the harvest and production of olives improved significantly over time with the industrial progress made in this sector.
The Romans were responsible for the spread of various qualities of olive oil:
• oleum ex albis ulivis, which was made by pressing green olives;
• oleum viride that came from over ripe olives;
• oleum maturum made with ripe olives;
• oleum caducum, which was obtained from olives that had fallen to the ground;
• oleum cibarium, which was made from dried olives.
These differentiations gave rise to specialised, professional oil merchants whose trade was regulated by set sales prices.