Olive - Olive Oil

Andros: Laina at Melida vilageAndros: Laina at Melida vilage

For thousands of years, the olive-tree has been the companion of the people who inhabited the shores of Eastern Mediterranean, from Asia Minor, to what is now Palestine, Cyprus, Greece, Italy and Sicily, the Iberian Peninsula, the South of France and the North African Coast.

Since the prehistoric period, the moderate climate of the Mediterranean has favoured the cultivation of the olive-tree, which most probably became known in 3,500 B.C. in the broader region of Eastern Meditteranean, where people had adopted production methods which included the cultivation of the soil and the grinding of fruit and ather produce in stone grinders, mortars and land-mills. Excavation work carried out on the Aegean Islands has revealed 60,000-year-old fossiled leaves of an olive-tree.

As an indigenous self-sown tree, the wild variety of the olive-tree and later the cultivated variety from which we obtain olive, olea Europea, i.e. the type cultivated in the European olive-oil producing countries, provides us with a wide range of products.

Its fruit - the black and green olives - and the invaluable olive oil with numerous applications in medicine, the pharmaceutical and cosmetics industry, used in the past in lamps for lighting, while olive-seeds provided heating and the oil promoted cleanliness since soap was made from it, without forgetting its sturdy wood, provide support to the economy and trade of the peoples living in the countries where the olive tree is cultivated.

The olive-tree has an established place in everyday life, customs and traditions, songs and feasts, in the visual arts and in literature.

It is the symbol of peace and the prize offered to winners at the Olympic Games, a gift from Athena, the goddess of wisdom, to the new-established Athenian state in the ancient Greek world, the liquid gold of the Arabs (al-zait) who was the origin of the Spanish word aceite (olive oil), and has a distinguished place in the Christian faith (in the sacrament of baptism and unction).

Its silvery-green hue has been blended and identified with the Mediterranean landscape, and a special culture - the culture of the olive-tree has been recorded in the region connectiong the civilazations that flourished in its age-long history.

See also the following link:

Olive oil in the Ancient Greek World