According to mythology, when Cecrops was the king of Attica, Athena and Poseidon were both vying for the position of patron deity of the city. So they both presented the city with a gift. Poseidon banged his trident to the ground and a water fountain came out in the middle of the city. But the water was salty and no one could drink it.athena on the other hand caused an olive tree to grow. It had the potential to provide continual nourishment. So they chose Athena to be the city protector and the city was named Athens, after the godess.

 Thus the olive tree was a gift to Attica and all human kind and it is considered to be the symbol of peace and prosperity. The Gods of Olympus took over the protection of the sacred tree so no one was allowed to cut down more than two olive trees a year whereas its wood would be used for the building of altars and statues of the gods. The olive tree over the years has become the symbol of victory, virtue,wisdom and peace.

Scientists are not unanimous about the country of origin of the olive tree. Fossilised olive trees dated from 50000-60000 were found in Nisiro and Santorini. Grains of pollen have been found  in Hepirus since 6.000 B.C. Others consider Syria and M. Asia as the places of origin of the olive tree. Another theory claims that the olive tree comes from Avissinia and Egypt. Discoveries from the Prehistoric Period in Crete ,prove that the growing of the olive tree already existed in Neolithic Age. Other foundings from the Minoic Age,  lead to the conclusion that the most possible origin of the tree is Crete indeed.

  • Ancient Egyptians used essential olive oils in the mummification of the Pharaos.
  • Platos olive tree in the “Sacred Street“ estimates the longerity of the olive tree to 2.500 years of age
  • The winners of the Olympic Games used to be crowned with “kotinos“ (a wild olive branch).
  • According to mythology, Hercules planted the wild olive tree in Olympia in the temple of Hera, after completing his 12 labours.