Olive

  • The cultivation of the olive tree is rightly considered the cultural landmark in the evolution of the entire Mediterranean culture. The use of olive oil signals the transition to a different level of culture. For thousands of years, Olive, accompanies, nourishes and offers its liquid gold, as Homer calls the Oil, to the Mediterranean people.

  • One of the goods that the Lord had promised the people of Israel was the fruit of the Olive tree.

    After the flood, God gave Noah an olive leaf that a dove brought to the Ark. It was a sign of God’s compassion for man.

    There are more than 170 references of the olive tree in the Bible.

  • Olive represents for Ancient Greeks peace, protection and fertility. They consider it a sacred tree and fruit that only gods could gift to the mortal men.

  • Homer mentions the olive tree fourteen times (one in Iliad, eleven in Odyssey and two in the hymns). At the same time, the olive oil can be found eight times in the Iliad and Odyssey.

  • According to the excavation findings from Knossos, Professor A. Anagnostopoulos in his announcement in the Academy of Athens in 1951, claims that the origin of Olive lies in Greece. The claim is further reinforced by the fact that the fruit’s name is Greek and this is how it remains in all languages.

  • Archaeological excavations in the Cyclades have revealed olive leaf fossils dating back 50 to 60 thousand years.

  • The earliest written evidence of the name of the olive in Greek are as old as the oldest (to date) deciphered Greek script: they are dated to the 14th  - 13th century BC and originate from the archives of the Mycenaean palaces of Knossos and Pylos, where archaeologists discovered a large number of clay tablets inscribed with Linear B script.   Frequent references to the olive tree, the olive and olive oil are contained in the records.  These words are quoted in ideograms and syllabograms::

     

  • Ideograms

         Olive tree

         Olive oil

         Olive fruit

     

  • syllabograms

     

        e - ra - wa

         olive

        e - ra - wo

         oil

  • Sixteen different olive varieties have been documented in Ancient Greece. Some of these are nowadays unknown.

  • The Peloponnesians always claimed the origin of the Olive tree, as indeed with the rest of Greece. They believed that the wild olive tree first appeared on the banks of the Alpheus River. Pindar claims that Hercules brought the first wild olive tree with him from Istria (on the Danube) when he had completed his trials, which he then planted in Olympia upon his return to Greece. Olive branches were used for making the wreaths for the Olympic victors.

  • The most famous ancient myth about the cultivation of the olive tree is where Athena battled with Poseidon over who will become the protector of Athens with naming rights over the city. The contest was held on the Acropolis Rock. Poseidon struck the rock with his trident and salty water immediately gushed out to form a lake known as the “Erechthean Sea”. Athena then planted an olive tree on the rock that sprouted full of fruit and won the contest!

  • The beneficial properties of the oil were known in the ancient Greek world, mainly as preparation for participation in athletic competitions or in battle. Homer referred to olive oil for anointing heroes after a bath, while Plato considers it as (an aid to) pain “relief”.
     

    There are over 60 pharmaceutical uses for olive oil in the Hippocratic Code. Its primary use was for skin diseases.

     

  • Other applications of olive oil that are mentioned by Hippocrates included the treatment of chronic fevers, small wounds, infiltrations such as boils and abscesses, sore gums, for maintaining teeth whiteness and as an antidote in cases of minor poisoning.

  • Over time, olive oil accompanied the sacred rites of the Greeks: Ancient libations – Unction – Christening – Holy Myrrh.
     

    Three thousand lamps filled with olive oil burned daily in the Church of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople.
     

    The mortals always wanted to resemble their gods. The ancient Greeks used olive oil for their personal cleanliness just as Hera applied oil scented with herbs and plants to her body.
     

    Myrrh was prepared during Holy Week at the Holy Patriarchate of Constantinople where the key ingredients were pure olive oil and essential oils.

  • The olive oil is what purified the bodies of the supplicants before they entered their temples and oracles. Supplicants applied oil to their body and enjoyed divine protection.

  • Oil was marketed by all the Mediterranean peoples, which included the Egyptians, Jews, Phoenicians and Greeks. The first information relating to the trade in olive oil was mentioned in 2500 BC, in the commercial code of the time.

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