Italy’s oldest olive oil discovered in peculiar pot

Related Articles

Related Articles

 Olive oil is a staple of Italian cuisine. It’s been that way for thousands of years. And new chemical analysis conducted on ancient pottery proves the liquid gold has existed in Italy hundreds of years longer than what anthropologists have previously recorded.

A team of researchers lead by Davide Tanasi, PhD, assistant professor of history at the University of South Florida, carried out chemical analyses to identify the content of a large jar, found in the 90s by Giuseppe Voza during the excavations at the site of Castelluccio. Conservators at the Archaeological Museum of Siracusa restored and reassembled 400 ceramic fragments, resulting in an egg-shaped 3 ½ foot storage container adorned with rope bands and three vertical handles on each side. At the same architectural site in Castelluccio in Sicily, researchers found two fragmented basins with an internal septum, indicating it was used to keep multiple substances together, but separate, along with a large terracotta cooking plate.

“The shape of this storage container and the nearby septum was like nothing else Voza found at the site in Castelluccio,” said Dr. Tanasi. “It had the signature of Sicilian tableware dated to the end of the 3rd and beginning of the 2nd millennium BCE (Early Bronze Age). We wanted to learn how it was used, so we conducted chemical analysis on organic residues found inside.”

 

In the study published in Analytical Methods, Dr. Tanasi tested the three artifacts using techniques traditionally and successfully used on archaeological pottery: Gas Chromatography, Mass Spectrometry and Nuclear Magnetic Resonance. His team found organic residue from all three samples contained oleic and linoleic acids, signatures of olive oil. They conclude the artifacts are from the Sicilian Early Bronze Age due to their location and peculiar shapes.

“The results obtained with the three samples from Castelluccio become the first chemical evidence of the oldest olive oil in Italian prehistory, pushing back the hands of the clock for the systematic olive oil production by at least 700 years,” said Tanasi.

The only known identification of chemical signatures of olive oil are from storage jars discovered in southern Italy in Cosenza and Lecce believed to be from the 12th and 11th century BCE (Copper Age).

UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH FLORIDA (USF HEALTH)

Header Image – Chemical analysis conducted on ancient pottery proves olive oil existed in Italy 700 years sooner than what’s previously been recorded. – Credit: Polo Regionale di Siracusa per i siti e musei archeologici Museo Paolo Orsi

Download the HeritageDaily mobile application on iOS and Android

More on this topic

LATEST NEWS

Pace of Prehistoric Human Innovation Could be Revealed by ‘Linguistic Thermometer’

Multi-disciplinary researchers at The University of Manchester have helped develop a powerful physics-based tool to map the pace of language development and human innovation over thousands of years - even stretching into pre-history before records were kept.

Study Sheds New Light on the Behaviour of the Giant Carnivorous Dinosaur Spinosaurus

New research from Queen Mary University of London and the University of Maryland, has reignited the debate around the behaviour of the giant dinosaur Spinosaurus.

New Skull of Tube-Crested Dinosaur Reveals Evolution of Bizarre Crest

The first new skull of a rare species of the dinosaur Parasaurolophus (recognized by the large hollow tube that grows on its head) discovered in 97 years.

Women Influenced Coevolution of Dogs and Humans

In a cross-cultural analysis, Washington State University researchers found several factors may have played a role in building the mutually beneficial relationship between humans and dogs, including temperature, hunting and surprisingly - gender.

Dinosaur Embryo Helps Crack Baby Tyrannosaur Mystery

They are among the largest predators ever to walk the Earth, but experts have discovered that some baby tyrannosaurs were only the size of a Border Collie dog when they took their first steps.

First People to Enter the Americas Likely Did so With Their Dogs

The first people to settle in the Americas likely brought their own canine companions with them, according to new research which sheds more light on the origin of dogs.

Climate Change in Antiquity: Mass Emigration Due to Water Scarcity

The absence of monsoon rains at the source of the Nile was the cause of migrations and the demise of entire settlements in the late Roman province of Egypt.

Archaeologists Discover Bas-Relief of Golden Eagle at Aztec Templo Mayor

A team of archaeologists from the Instituto Nacional de Antropologia e Historia (INAH) have announced the discovery of a bas-relief depicting an American golden eagle (aquila chrysaetos canadensis).

Popular stories

Exploring the Stonehenge Landscape

The Stonehenge Landscape contains over 400 ancient sites, that includes burial mounds known as barrows, Woodhenge, the Durrington Walls, the Stonehenge Cursus, the Avenue, and surrounds the monument of Stonehenge which is managed by English Heritage.

The Iron Age Tribes of Britain

The British Iron Age is a conventional name to describe the independent Iron Age cultures that inhabited the mainland and smaller islands of present-day Britain.

The Roman Conquest of Wales

The conquest of Wales began in either AD 47 or 48, following the landing of Roman forces in Britannia sent by Emperor Claudius in AD 43.

Vallum Antonini – The Antonine Wall

The Antonine Wall (Vallum Antonini) was a defensive wall built by the Romans in present-day Scotland, that ran for 39 miles between the Firth of Forth, and the Firth of Clyde (west of Edinburgh along the central belt).