Ancient olive oil found

RESEARCHERS have found an ancient bottle of olive oil which is almost 2,000 years old.

The glass container was reportedly buried by the eruption of Vesuvius in the year 79 AD.

The team, led by Professor Raffaele Sacchi of the University of Naples Federico II, in Italy, initially thought that the bottle was empty, until palaeontologist and journalist Alberto Angela, noticed that it was half full. At first it was thought that the liquid was wine but it was analysed using molecular techniques and carbon 14 dating, showing that the oil had undergone chemical modifications due to the extreme temperatures to which it was exposed and the time which had passed. In these conditions, very few molecules survived in the liquid, such as fats, while it had generated substances typical of a rotten product.

The study is published in the journal NPJ Science of Food, from the Nature group.

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Written by

Jennifer Leighfield

Jennifer Leighfield, born in Salisbury, UK; resident in Malaga, Spain since 1989. Degree in Translation and Interpreting in Spanish, French and English from Malaga University (2005), specialising in Crime, Forensic Medicine and Genetics. Published translations include three books by Richard Handscombe. Worked with Euro Weekly News since November 2006. Well-travelled throughout Spain and the rest of the world, fan of Harry Potter and most things ‘geek’.


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