Tabs on Writing

The Business of Business Writing by John Tabellione, Principal at

Eureka: Oil Discovery in Italy

Date: 05 June 2018
Category: Current Events, History, Homophones

My mouth went ajar when I read an article the other day in Smithsonian Magazine: conservators from the Archaeological Museum of Siracusa, Sicily had successfully pieced together an incredible amount of 400 shards of ceramic pottery to reconstitute a jar three-and-a half feet tall, egg-shaped and adorned with rope-like flourishes.

What makes the importance of these fragments even more jarring comes from researchers at the University of South Florida. They recently announced a study that used gas chromatography, mass spectrometry and nuclear magnetic resonance analyses to identify the contents of this jar, found over 20 years ago during excavations at Castelluccio, Italy.

The research concluded that the artifacts are from the Early Bronze Age due to their location and peculiar shapes. The team also found organic residue  of oleic and linoleic acids, signatures of olive oil. That timeline equates to approximately 4,000 years ago, making that discovery the oldest historical trace of olive oil in Italy.

Incidentally, Siracusa was the home of the Greek mathematician, Archimedes, who reputedly shouted “eureka” (ancient Greek word meaning “I found it”) when he discovered displacement of water to be an exact measure of volume.


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