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History - Mythology


The olive is inextricably linked to the lives of people in the Mediterranean. The cultivation of olives takes place within two zones between 30° and 45° north latitude and 30° and 40° south latitude bearing the most suitable climatic conditions for growth and fruitfulness.

Within the depths of prehistoric time the olive has prevailed.

Scientists, with investigations still underway, discovered olive plant fossils with the remarkable age of 50,000-60,000 years in the volcanic rocks of Santorini. The systematic cultivation has initiated from prehistoric times of the Stone and Bronze Age. Olives and Olive oil have never abandoned Greece from then till today.


The olive tree was the sacred tree of the city of Athens. According to the myth, Pallas Athena gave the olive tree, symbol of fertility, as a gift to the Athenians, who in gratitude gave the name of the goddess to the city.

The sacred olive tree of Athena located at the Acropolis, was the first olive tree that the goddess offered to Greeks.  At the Academy, there were 12 sacred olive trees, the Moriai, and the sacred olive grove from which came the oil which was given as a Prize to the winners of the Panathinaion.

Within the Athenian currency, Pallas Athena was depicted with an olive wreath in a helmet and amphorae with oil or olive branch.

The ancient Greeks considered the olive tree as a symbol of the Olympic ideals; Peace, Wisdom and Glory. The only Prize that would crown the champions was a wreath (“kotinos”) from wild olive which was called “kallistefano”. According to the legend, “kallistefanos elaia” the branches of which made the “kotinos” was the first olive tree replanted in Olympia by Hercules after the completion of his dodekathlon (12 labours).

Finally, the chryselephantine statue of Zeus at Olympia (sculpted by Pheidias), which was one of the Seven Wonders of the World, was topped with olive branches.