Dr Emlyn Dodd, an archaeologist specializing within the research of historical food and drinks, has tried to recreate the traditional and unique technique of Egyptian olive oil urgent known as the torsion technique, which was first documented 4,600-4,500 years in the past. Dr Emlyn Dodd has recorded his prolonged observations on high-yield Egyptian olive oil manufacturing, and likewise demonstrates how necessary this sort of “experimental archaeology” may be in reconstructing the previous.

From Crete to Israel to Egypt: The Egyptian Olive Oil Story

The ancient inhabitants of Crete already understood the “Mediterranean weight loss program” and the worth of olive oil almost 10,000 years in the past! And over time, olive oil quickly grew to become one of many main commodities of the traditional Mediterranean world. In truth, olive oil was key ingredient in worldwide commerce, delicacies, private hygiene, rituals, drugs, gasoline, and as an agent for making soaps and oil maps.

With the enlargement of Greco-Roman tradition in eighth century BC, the cosmetic use of olive oil grew to become widespread in lower than 100 years in most Hellenic city-states, although it was very costly. As Greek colonies have been established in different elements of the Mediterranean, olive farming was now launched to locations like Spain (as we speak Spain is the most important producer of olives on the planet) and unfold by way of the Roman Empire .

The Cretan Greeks were the first to produce olive oil in quantity. This is an ancient olive oil production workshop in Klazomenai, Ionia, in modern-day Turkey. (Public domain)

The Cretan Greeks have been the primary to provide olive oil in amount. That is an historical olive oil manufacturing workshop in Klazomenai, Ionia, in modern-day Turkey. ( Public domain )

The civilizations that fashioned in and across the Mediterranean devoted a number of their time and energies into crafting environment friendly strategies to reap and produce olive oil. Historical agricultural texts meticulously describe what instruments and gear have been required, how and the place to develop olive bushes, and different sensible manufacturing particulars. There are additionally just a few historic accounts out there that debate olive oil. For instance, an account by Pliny the Elder mentions how important olive oil was for the “exterior” of the physique, describing it as a “necessity.”

Dr. Emlyn Dodd, who’s the Assistant Director of Archaeology on the British College at Rome and the brains behind the Egyptian olive oil expertise recreation. In a beautiful article at The Conversation , he explains:

“The element inside these texts is staggering. It extends to express directions for creating olive oil as effectively recipes for varied sorts. Mixed with surviving iconography and artwork that depicts these processes, in addition to the archaeological stays of oileries and olive groves, we are able to try to reconstruct these ancient commodities .”

It was the Egyptians who invented the super useful torsion bag technology for extracting oils including, of course, Egyptian olive oil. This fresco is from the tomb of Puimre in Thebes. Puimre was an ancient Egyptian noble and architect during the reign of Thutmose III in the New Kingdom, Amara period (1550–1069 BC). (Public domain)

It was the Egyptians who invented the tremendous helpful torsion bag expertise for extracting oils together with, after all, Egyptian olive oil. This fresco is from the tomb of Puimre in Thebes. Puimre was an historical Egyptian noble and architect through the reign of Thutmose III within the New Kingdom, Amara interval (1550–1069 BC). ( Public domain )

Experimental Archaeology: Recreating the Torsion Bag Technique

Dr Dodd needed to grasp the practicalities of the traditional high-tech Egyptian olive oil manufacturing method. He shared his expertise in a brief video post on Twitter .

Dr Dodd reproduced the torsion bag press technique by following the next steps, which he discusses in some element in an article on Inside Hook . First, the olives are crushed and positioned inside a permeable bag. Then, sticks are hooked up to each ends of the bag. Then the 2 sticks are twisted in reverse instructions, which compresses the bag and extracts a lot of the olive oil. The torsion bag technique has been recorded as early as 2600-2500 BC within the tomb of Nebemakhet, a king’s son and a vizier through the 4th Dynasty (circa 2613-2494 BC).

Dr. Dodd writes, “Even supposing nearly no archaeological proof is understood of precise olive oilry services in Pharaonic Egypt, with iconography offering the one actual clues, this experiment clearly confirmed it’s doable to press olives and produce oil utilizing this incessantly depicted technique.”

Although the Egyptians presumably employed this torsion method for the manufacturing of wine, Dr. Dodd needed to check this method for making olive oil, to see what high quality might be produced. A easy cheesecloth was utilized because the bag for the method, and a fundamental mortar and pestle technique from 5000 BC was used to crush the olives – a mix of inexperienced and black olives from Australia – right into a pulp.

The pulp was then positioned within the cheesecloth sack and a wide range of torsion strategies have been examined. Regular torsion stress efficiently offered a constant and regular oil drip, with out damaging the fabric. Totally different batches with a slight tweak in technique and olives produced completely different outcomes. Even Pliny acknowledged that the identical batch of olives can provide completely different outcomes with completely different strategies of manufacturing.

All in all, Dr Dodd made a really passable batch of olive oil that tasted like fresh-pressed additional virgin oil, with a pointy and “bitey” taste.

High picture: Current analysis and experimentation has recreated the unique “high-tech” method of Egyptian olive oil manufacturing. This stone panel on the Metropolitan Museum of Artwork (The Met), entitled “Clutching an Olive Department,” is from circa 1353–1323 BC within the New Kingdom, Amarna Interval. Supply: Metropolitan Museum of Art

By Sahir Pandey

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