Since ancient times, the olive tree appears in various representations and images, in legends and fables, making it an important part of nature and beyond since then. Its origins are most likely from the eastern shores of the Mediterranean. In Greece, the olive tree was propagated by the Phocians.
In mythology, the Greek capital was named after the goddess Athena. The myth refers to a contest between Athena and Poseidon, on who would give their name and become protector of the city. Athena won the contest, by giving the people of the city an olive tree. With this victory, the city was named Athena (Athens) and the olive tree was elevated to a symbol of peace and fertility. That is why the winners in the ancient Olympic Games were crowned with olive wreaths.
According to Homer, olive trees were grown in Greece for over 10,000 years. In the Homeric poems, olive oil is referred to as “liquid gold”. References by Ancient Greek doctors, such as Hippocrates and Galen, emphasized the nutritional and beneficial properties of olive oil.
The exploitation of olive trees and fruit commenced in the Neolithic age, when the fruit of wild olive trees were harvested, while the cultivation of olive trees commenced approximately three millennia B.C., in the Early Bronze era.
The earliest testimony of the introduction of olives in alimentary habits appears in Linear B script on tablets, as the word po – pa designates an ideogram of the olive fruit and is pronounced “forvi/forvas”, meaning “edible”. The tablets were found in the palaces of Pylos, Knossos and Mycenae and date from the late 13th century B.C.
Across the ages, olive trees have continued to hold an important place in our lives, a fact that renders them immortal. Despite the bitter winters and arid summers, they continue to grow, proud and strong, gifting us their precious fruit.