This article is a preliminary case-study concerning the importance of flax/Linum and Eruca as oil plants in central Anatolia. Linseed oil (‘beziryaği’) was produced from both Linum and Eruca seeds, and this oil was used in Anatolian culinary culture, in addition to olive, sesame, cotton, poppy, sunflower, hazel, Cephalaria, safflower and hackberry oils. Linseed oil was also used in oil lamps, to oil wooden-wheeled carts and to rub on the skins of water-buffalo. Both linseed oil and flax seeds were widely used in folk medicine.
The production of linseed oil may have started thousands of years ago in central Anatolia. Both plants are native to Anatolia, and flax seeds have been found at several Neolithic sites. The earliest historical documents concerning linseed oil mills (‘bezirhane’) are Ottoman tax records from 1500–1. Until the 1970s there were still several oil mills in the Aksaray area producing linseed oil during the winter. The residue was used as fodder for draft animals.