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According to Herodotus, Apollodorus, Plutarch, Pausanias, Ovid and other sources, the city of Athens obtained its name because Athenians considered olive oil essential, preferring the offering of the goddess Athena (an olive tree) over the offering of Poseidon (a spring of salt water gushing out of a cliff). Some 75% of Spain's production derives from the region of Andalucía, particularly within Jaén province which produces 70% of olive oil in Spain.
The Spartans and other Greeks used oil to rub themselves while exercising in the gymnasia. Australia now produces a substantial amount of olive oil.
Olive oil is a liquid fat obtained from olives (the fruit of Olea europaea; family Oleaceae), a traditional tree crop of the Mediterranean Basin. It is commonly used in cooking, whether for frying or as a salad dressing.
It is also used in cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and soaps, and as a fuel for traditional oil lamps, and has additional uses in some religions.
Here some dozen documents dated 2400 BC describe lands of the king and the queen.
These belonged to a library of clay tablets perfectly preserved by having been baked in the fire that destroyed the palace.
Olive trees have been grown around the Mediterranean since the 8th millennium BC.
Spain is the largest producer of olive oil, followed by Italy and Greece.
Sinuhe, the Egyptian exile who lived in northern Canaan about 1960 BC, wrote of abundant olive trees.
From its beginnings early in the 7th century BC, the cosmetic use of olive oil quickly spread to all of the Hellenic city states, together with athletes training in the nude, and lasted close to a thousand years despite its great expense. Many Australian producers only make premium oils, while a number of corporate growers operate groves of a million trees or more and produce oils for the general market.
Olive oil was also popular as a form of birth control; Aristotle in his History of Animals recommends applying a mixture of olive oil combined with either oil of cedar, ointment of lead, or ointment of frankincense to the cervix to prevent pregnancy. Australian olive oil is exported to Asia, Europe and the United States. olive oil imports come from Italy, Spain, and Turkey.
Recent genetic studies suggest that species used by modern cultivators descend from multiple wild populations, but a detailed history of domestication is not yet forthcoming.
Olive trees and oil production in the Eastern Mediterranean can be traced to archives of the ancient city-state Ebla (2600–2240 BC), which were located on the outskirts of the Syrian city Aleppo.