Knossos Palace

History and Mythology

Τhe Olive tree, as archaeological and historical research studies reveal, has been a part of the indigenous flora of the Hellenic territory since the neolithic era, some 7.000 years ago. Crete is one of the first regions where locals found ways to domesticate the wild olive tree during the prehistoric period, as far back as 3.000 BC. 

                        Ancient olive tree of Vouves

The “Monumental Οlive Τree of Vouves” in Crete is  considered one of  the oldest olive trees in  the  world with an approximate age of at least 2500 years.

The cultivation and processing of olive trees is shown to be a main occupation of the Minoans, relevant evidence provided by smashed olive seeds, ancient kinds of lamps using olive oil and vast ceramic jars where olive oil was stored, found in the palaces of Knossos, Festos and other archeological sites. Findings confirm that this great first Cretan civilization, was not only was based on agricultural economy, but its main source of wealth were the broad commercial relations in the East Mediterranean based on its agricultural products, mostly olive oil.

   

The olive has been always been considered by Greeks a blessed fruit since antiquity : an emblem of knowledge, wisdom, abundance, health, power and beauty. Legends, traditions, religious and athletic ceremonies have relied upon it.

Homer, the immortal Greek poet, called olive oil 'Liquid Gold' and the Laws of Solon   (Athens - 6-7th century BC) prohibited the cutting down of olive trees on the punishment of death.

The olive branch has been considered a symbol of peace and as such it was awarded to the winners of the Olympic Games since 776 B.C. emphasizing the mandatory truce all over the world throughout the duration of the Games.

Mythology

According to Greek Mythology, Zeus held a competition amongst the Olympian gods: he who would offer him the worthiest gift would be honoured with the most powerful Greek city as a prize.

                                   

According to Greek Mythology, Zeus held a competition amongst the Olympian gods: he who would offer him the worthiest gift would be honoured with the most powerful Greek city as a prize. The two finalists were Athena, goddess of wisdom and knowledge and Poseidon, god of the ocean. Athena struck her spear on the sacred rock of Acropolis and an olive tree sprang forth, a symbol of peace, while Poseidon offered Zeus a horse, symbol of war. Zeus chose Athena’s gift and the people of the city, as a token of gratitude, named the city “Athens” after the goddess, who also taught them how to cultivate the olive tree.


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