Olive oil as lighting fuel source

Since ancient times olive oil was a key lighting fuel source for interior illumination. In ancient Greece and Rome were developed olive oil lamps, while in the Aegean Islands and Crete where there was a rich olive oil production, lighting with olive oil lamps were a privilege for all people.

The importance of olive oil as a lighting fuel source shown in the religious cult of antiquity and later in Christianity. Strabo mentions that the temple of Athena Polias was burning “Sleepless lamp” from where the settlers who were starting to new places, were taking with them “light” from homeland. Herodotus writes about “Lychnokaia”, a celebration in Egypt dedicated to the Egyptian goddess Athena – Niith, goddess of olives and olive oil, where the believers entered the vessels with lighted olive oil lamps and was sailing to the temple of the goddess.

In the Christian religion, since Byzantine times olive oil was necessary for the lighting of lamps in temples and monasteries. It is reported that in Hagia Sophia lit 3000 lamps. Even today, however, the light of lamps in temples and iconostases maintains olive oil.

Finally, many homes in Greek villages lit with olive oil lamps until the first decades of the 20th century. In Crete there was a word for the time being lit the lamps in every home, “lychnanammata”, it was the time when was starting getting dark.

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