The olive tree, considered sacred by the people of the Mediterranean for thousands of years, continues to fascinate and hold our imaginations.
The olive tree belongs to the Oleaceae family and has a lifespan of around 300 to 400 years. The exact origins of the olive tree are puzzling. Persia, Greater Jordan, and the Nile Valleys each have their supporters.
Some also claim that the cultivation of the olive dates back to 5000 BC. BC began. in Crete and the neighboring Greek islands. The best that can be said for sure is that agriculture started a very long time ago somewhere in the Middle East and slowly spread west across the Mediterranean Sea.
All the great civilizations of the Mediterranean contributed to the spread of olives in this region: Egyptians, Phoenicians, Greeks and Romans.
The ancient Greeks believed the olive tree was a gift from the goddess Athena and began using Greek Olive Oil in their religious rituals. Homer, the immortal Greek poet, called olive oil liquid gold and the Greek Laws of Solon, during the 6th to 7th century BC, prohibited the cutting down of olive trees on the punishment of death.
Appreciation of olive oil not just as food, but for many other reasons such as the promotion of health and beauty, became ingrained in these cultures. The Romans are said to have slathered it on their bodies to moisturize after bathing.