Wild olive trees grew on the island before the arrival the Greeks, but the emergence of Greek civilization on the island in 4th century B.C.in which the production of olive oil was one of the chief branches of the economy, must have meant the beginning of organised cultivation of this plant of modest needs in soil quality and care.
Apart from consumption in its raw and salted form, olive fruits were used for extracting oil. Oil was then used to make soap and scent, in medicine and for lighting. Except for the last one, everything else about the use of olives has reminded the same to this day. The method for extracting oil has not changed for thousand of years. Ripe fruits are first crushed in special mills and then oil is extracted from the pulp by adding water and under pressure. The oldest oil press was found in the ruins of a 3rd century farm building in the vicinity of the village of Dol.
On the hill known as Maslinovik (from maslina=olive) in the middle of Stari Grad Plain, another such press, cut into the living rock, was preserved. It survived from the age of Antiquity.
Simple mills from later time may be found in all of island's villages. They are in fact stone troughs in which olives are crushed with the help of a heavy stone wheel. In Antiquity, oil was stored in large round ceramics vessels. Greek word pitos
for the characteristic vessel is still used today. Broken fragments of this ancient pottery can be found all over Stari Grad Plain.
Later, special vessels carved in stone blocks, called kamenice
(from kamen=stone), came into use. They may still be found in the island's konobe (here cellars). In the past, olive trees were pruned high so that goats and sheep would not graze on their leaves. Nowadays trees are pruned to form lower canopy to be more accessible for harvesting.
The oldest and most common olives grown on the island are oblica, with large round fruit, drobnica (droban =small) and Levantinka, whose name reminds of its origin in the east (Greece, the near East). In recent times many old times many old olive groves have been restored and new ones are being planted. The island has approximately 140,000 olive trees and there are three new oil refineries on the islands in addition to the four old ones.