Forum: Research Questions

Discussing: Oils in Gondor

Oils in Gondor

OK, all you researcher types, what kind of oils are going to be available in Gondor?

Animal fats I can account for fairly easily - butter, lard, tallow, whale & seal blubber, fish oil. Oils from the sea of course are going to be found near coasts and major waterways, while cow/pig/goat/horse derived animal fats will be more wide-spread. Chicken fat, too.

What I am interested in are vegetable oils. Would there be olive oil? What kind of oils from nuts? Peanuts are Brazilian in origin, but were introduced to North America via Africa - can they be considered a legitimate import from "the South"? Sunflower oil?

How difficult would it be to obtain vegetable oils in a preindustrial society? How processed? Would they be stable for transporting, or would they need to be produced/consumed locally?

Ang

 

 

Re: Oils in Gondor

Seems to me that olive oil is a perfectly justifiable extrapolation, given the "Mediterranean" latitudes of Dol Amroth and Pelargir. And since it was being used in Greek & Roman times, processing it is definitely not beyond the technology of pre-industrial societies. (I think all you have to do to get oil is press the olives... )

Other plant oils (canola, sunflower etc.) require more elaborate processes to extract usable amounts of oil. But I suppose it could still be done if labour and mills were available.

I did find an online reference (no citation of course, sigh) that claimed North American indigenous peoples pressed and used sunflower oil in small quantities.

As for transport, if jars were sealed and outside temperatures not too high, oil should last for a few months.

 

 

Re: Oils in Gondor

I found a bit, especially from the cooking end...
Almond oil, Filbert oil and walnut oil were all known in the middle ages. One source said Poppy Oil was used as the primary cooking oil in Germany, Flanders, & other northern countries, where olive oil was scarce.
Sesame oil has been used since ancient times. (Can you grow sesame in that climate? )
Mustard oil has been used in India and some of the neighboring countries.

From a brief look at one site, there are some extremely low tech, if inefficient pressing methods. The simplest is hanging a large container of the item to be pressed, and allowing the weight of the upper layers to crush the lower layers and force the oil to drip out of holes in the bottom. Adding a press or mill of some sort would increase efficiency. Since grain was ground, other simple mills were likely.

Lyllyn

 

 

Re: Oils in Gondor

Walnut oil - good. I like the idea of using olive oil in southern Gondor & in Minas Tirith, though probably not likely to travel north. Almonds grow in California, so I can imagine them in parts of Gondor. Filberts and walnuts do well in colder climates (hazelnuts are all over Washington state), so those could be in use into Rohan and probably were used extensively in the Shire/Bree/Esgaroth.

Sesame oil - well, that could be a relatively common import from the South when out-and-out war wasn't happening.

Thoughts about flax and oil from flax seeds? I do know it is highly unstable.

I'm thinking that clarified butter was probably a cooking staple, while whale oil would have been used for lighting.

This is great! Thanks!

Ang

 

 

Re: Oils in Gondor

Thoughts about flax and oil from flax seeds? I do know it is highly unstable.

I didn't realize this until I checked, but linseed oil is flax oil.

Lyllyn

 

 

Re: Oils in Gondor

Well, Ithilien is portrayed as something of a Mediterreanean garden, so olive trees might actually be feasible. Animal fat would have been used, too, for cooking and soapmaking.

(psst! You're not using the oil for any kinky *cough*slash*cough* purposes, are you?)

 

 

Re: Oils in Gondor

(psst! You're not using the oil for any kinky *cough*slash*cough* purposes, are you?)

You haven't been reading the limerick discussion in Verse, by any chance, have you?

If you haven't, your comment says that you'd be in perfect company there...

Lyllyn

 

 

Re: Oils in Gondor

Well, Ithilien is portrayed as something of a Mediterreanean garden, so olive trees might actually be feasible.

They're mentioned in Book IV, Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit in the long descriptive list just after the hobbits arrive in Ithilien.

 

 

Re: Oils in Gondor

Perfect!

Ang

 

 

Re: Oils in Gondor

No.

 

 

Now where to find water-based lube?

If you are looking for lighting...

Oil based lamps are wonderful!

You can make a decent lamp out of almost any material and stocked with almost any oil (though nut oils seem a bit expensive for such uses).

A simple hanging lamp (say over a table) can be made with a bell-shaped (upside down) glass, ringed about with chain and then attached to 3+ chains overhead. The wick can be kept above the level of the oil with a twist of wire.
http://www.barakatgallery.com/store/Index.cfm/FuseAction/ItemDetails/UserID/0/TopMenuID/5.htm&ItemID=4888


Or they can be more enclosed structures: http://www.edgarlowen.com/b1203.jpg

And many more varieties.

One neat tidbit -- if you pour a little bit of water in with the oil, then not only will it keep the heat from damaging the lamp as it burns low, but also it will be more likely to self-extinguish if it falls.

 

 

In Forums

Discussion Info

Intended for: General Audience

This forum is open to all HASA members. It is read-only for the general public.

Membership on HASA is free and it takes only a few minutes to join. If you would like to participate, please click here.

If you are already a member, please log in to participate.

« Back to Research Questions

Stories linked to the forum