The Greek presence in Italy had a decisive impact on the development of the area. Greek ideas, religion, art, and knowledge all predominated on the Italian shore eventually to be adopted by the Roman Empire which ultimately conquered Greece.

From the Greco-Roman colony of Byzantium, yet another empire sprang, the Byzantine, and the humble Greek trade outpost took the name of Constantinople, after the Emperor Constantine.  Constantinople became the world’s most cosmopolitan city, wellspring of the 1,000-year-long Byzantine Empire.

During these times the olive tree remained revered, its culture intensified and was treated more scientifically. It continued to be regarded as a highly valuable nutritive substance, food preservative, etc., but its medicinal uses were also examined more closely.

Pedanius Dioskorides, a Greek physician and pharmacologist, wrote his treatise  “The Materials of Medicine” in the first century A.D.  It was to become one of the world’s most important medical texts, one which was translated into Latin, Syrian, Arabic and Hebrew, and used until the 16th century.  In it is a whole section devoted to the preparation of various kinds of oils. One entry, on how to “whiten oil,”  is perhaps the first reference ever regarding decoloration,  a process that is still applied today in the refining of olive oil.

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