The History of Olive Oil in Sardinia

(Photo Source: Rinaldo R)

An Ancient History

Sardinia is home to some of the oldest olive trees in the world - with an almost 4000-year old history of olive cultivation.

The Nuragic period, which lasted from the 18th Century BCE to 238 BCE is a historical time unique to Sardinia - classified by the mysterious structures known as Nuraghes. Archeologists speculate that the Nuragic peoples cultivated and harvested olives for both oil, used in lamps, and food.
A statue of what is believed to be Aristaeus which presumably dates back to the 5th-7th century BC was found in Sardinia. Aristaeus was a minor greek god and a protector of olive trees, of olive plantations, olive cultivation and of olive oil presses. It is believed, therefore, that the Greeks and Sardinians exchanged knowledge regarding the cultivation of the olive fruit.
Modern history
The modern history of olive oil cultivation in Sardinia begins with the Spanish domination of Sardinia, when Spaniards began to heavily plant and cultivate olive oil on the island starting in the mid-16th century.

The Spanish rulers impeded a fine for anyone with closed land who didn't plant olive trees - they also provided an incentive for those who wanted to own land.
During Spanish rule, if you were able to create barrier using olive trees on unowned land, you could then own that piece of land. For these reasons practically every family nowadays in Sardinia has some claim to a piece of land with olive trees. Today almost 2% of the island is covered by olive trees. Many Sardinian families are able to produce enough olive oil to sustain themselves. The harvesting and cultivation of olive oil is a quintessential part of Sardinian history and the culture today.
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Extra virgin olive made on family farms, just like ours, in Sardinia is a quintessential part of the diet. We believe this healthy fat plays a large role in the famed longevity of our island's population.
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