ELAION: book and database on ancient olive oil production

Our latest book, a monograph by Assoc. Prof. Tomasz Waliszewski on oleoculture in the Roman and Byzantine Syria–Palestine, is accompanied by an online database of over 1700 oil-press related elements, which lay at the basis of the conclusions presented in the book.

Oleoculture was always an important part of ancient agriculture, which was the mainstay of the ancient economy and the writing on the subject, both ancient and modern, is immense. The present study centers upon the place of the olive in the agricultural regimes and economies of Roman and Byzantine Syria–Palestine, exploring them in environmental, technological, social and, when possible, economic contexts.

The author explores the regional origins of olive cultivation and its wanderings across time and space, discussing typology and chronology of oil facilities and their rural and urban contexts, as well as the economics of production and logistics of olive oil distribution.

The book opens with a synthetic presentation of oil production in Roman and Byzantine Syria–Palestine, based for the most part on data, which is gathered and presented in the second part as well as in an online resource, comprising new evidence from Syria, Lebanon and Jordan, as well as an overview of previously available data from Palestine, supplemented with information on the latest discoveries. Prominent among the data from Lebanon are hitherto unpublished records from PCMA excavations in Chhîm and Jiyeh, directed by Tomasz Waliszewski.

Tomasz Waliszewski, Elaion. Olive Oil Production in Roman and Byzantine Syria–Palestine, [=PAM Monographs 6], Warsaw: PCMA, University of Warsaw Press, 2014