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Olive Trees: A Brief History

Olive Trees: A Brief History

Olive trees, scientifically known as Olea europaea, are believed to be the world's oldest fruit trees. They have also been one of the most significant fruit plants throughout history. Throughout history, the culture around olive trees has been intricately linked to the expansion and contraction of several Mediterranean empires, as well as other technologically powerful civilizations. Because olive trees provided established civilizations with a source of wealth as well as future food supplies, agricultural nations became stable societies. This was the result of the agricultural nations' secure expectation, based on previous experience, of an uninterrupted supply of food and olive oil. This component served as an essential prerequisite for the expansion and development of the population. In order for olive trees to reliably produce fruit and olive oil, the society in which they are planted and the environment in which they are situated must be tranquil. Since the majority of old seedling olive trees need eight years or more before ever producing their first harvest of fruit, that steadiness must continue for a significant number of years. Orchards of olive trees that were productive indicated that a basis for the great empires of Greece and Rome had been established and had evolved into sophisticated economic and political entities. These empires included Greece and Rome. It is noteworthy to note that the historical fall of these empires coincided with the loss of their olive tree orchards, which resulted in a decrease in the available supplies of olives, olive oil, olive wood, and olive soap. This is something that should be kept in mind. It is noteworthy to note, in relation to the devastation of olive orchards, that during the Israeli wars with Palestine, Israeli bulldozers were responsible for the destruction of 50,000 olive trees. This was done by Israel. This act of agricultural damage resulted in tremendous resentment and unrest in the Gaza strip and the West Bank, because the fruits of the uprooted olive trees were essential to the economic well-being of many Palestinian farmers. When olive trees were cut down close to the birthplace of Jesus and the "Cradle of Biblical History," it seemed as though a deliberate provocation was being made to end the "peace" with the Palestinian settlers and farmers. Additionally, the olive tree has historically been a symbol of "peace and goodwill." In addition, the olive tree is a symbol of "peace and goodwill."

The ancient Greeks recognized that it was imperative for them to maintain peace and avoid conflict across their vast empire during the time that the Olympic Games were being held. As a result, they declared a worldwide armistice so that they could focus their full attention on the athletic competitions and games that they were hosting.


Many ancient Greek poets and philosophers stated that olive oil had medicinal characteristics. The significance of olives in providing nutritional advantages and riches for Greek inhabitants continues abundantly now, with some Greek olive tree plantations holding one million or more trees. Aristotle wrote a great deal of text about the conventional practices that are considered necessary for the cultivation of olive trees.

According to Greek mythology, the Goddess of Wisdom and Peace, Athena, stabbed her magic spear into the ground, and the point of the spear turned into an olive tree. As a result, the place in Greece where the olive tree appeared and began to grow was given the name Athens, in honor of the Goddess, Athena. According to a myth handed down through the generations, the first olive tree that was planted at the revered ancient location is still there today and continues to thrive. Citizens continue to believe that every olive tree in Greece came from rooted cuttings that were cultivated from the first olive tree. In his works, Homer made the assertion that the olive tree that was still alive and well in Athens was over ten thousand years old. According to Homer, anybody who cut down an olive tree in ancient Greece was put to death by the local legal system. In the year 775 B.C., the ancient Olympic games were held in Olympia, Greece, on the site of the modern stadium. Athletes competed and trained there, and the victors were hailed as victorious and awarded with a wreath made of olive twigs. The visage of the goddess Athena, who wore a wreath of olive leaves on her helmet and held a clay jar filled with olive oil on ancient gold coins that were produced in Athens, was represented on these coins. Around 700 BC, the Greeks were the first people to cultivate olive trees. In ancient Greek culture, olive oil was the fuel that was used to light the holy lamp that was used in ancient Greek culture for the purpose of illuminating gloomy places at night. In addition, aged olive oil was applied ceremonially at marriages and baptisms as part of the church's holy anointing ceremonies. In his writings around the year 500 B.C., Herodotus said that the production of olives and olive oil was considered to be so holy that only virgins and eunuchs were permitted to tend orchards of olive trees. Olive trees are thought to have initially been planted on the island of Crete, home of the Minoan civilisation, some 3,500 years before the present. Documentation of the earliest olive tree plantings dates back to this time period. This civilisation existed before the olive fossils from Mycenae, which were found to date back to 1600 B.C. and later in the Greek empire. An archeologist from Cornell University named Sturt Manning stated in an article published in Live Science Magazine on April 28, 2005, that the most destructive volcano that has occurred in the last 10,000 years occurred on the island of Thera, Greece. As a result of this volcano, the city of Akrotiri was completely buried by the falling ash. Carbon dating has shown that the volcanic eruption took place between 1660 and 1600 BC. The eruption may have contributed to the total destruction of the advanced Minoan civilization (Atlantis) on the island of Crete, and it may have led to the formation of the Sahara desert in North Africa after vaporizing the native forests there. Olive wood and olive seed fossils have been found buried near the site, and carbon dating has shown that the fossils were buried there.

After the great flood, Noah is shown in the Old Testament of the Hebrew Bible (Genesis 8:11) receiving an olive branch from a dove as a sign of peace and love from God, which the olive branch continues to represent even now. In the book of Exodus, Moses relates that God intended numerous rites conducted by the priests of Israel to include the use of olive oil. The Israelite priests performed these rituals. Olive oil was used as anointing oil, and it was poured over the heads of kings and priests to accept their power as an instrument of God. This was done by pouring the oil over their heads. The Bible has a great number of other allusions to olives. Psalms 52:8 "But I am like the green olive tree in the temple of God; I believe in the unchanging love of God for all eternity and for all time." In conclusion, on the day before he was to be crucified, Jesus was to spend his last day praying in the garden of Gethsemane, which is located on the hill of olives in Jerusalem. There, Jesus was taken into custody, tried, sentenced to death by crucifixion, and ultimately executed. Following his resurrection from the tomb, he ascended to heaven.

Impressionist painters like Van Gogh, Cezanne, Renoir, and Matisse were awestruck by the ancient age, beauty, and productiveness of olive trees, which led to the creation of some of these artists' most iconic works of art. Jesus, Milton, Shakespeare, and Lord Byron were among the world's greatest literary authors, poets, and recorders of biblical history, and they are the ones who gave the olive tree its legendary status.

In one of his writings, Thomas Jefferson referred to the olive tree as "the finest gift from heaven." Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, who went overseas, brought plant material such as olive trees and rice back to the United States to enhance the United States' agricultural output, according to a study by the Department of Homeland Security of the United States. During the Revolutionary War, Thomas Jefferson served as the United States ambassador to France. He also initiated the process of importing olive trees and seeds into the southern regions of the United States. Because of the high levels of humidity in South Carolina and Georgia, olive tree orchards did not have the opportunity to mature to their full potential in those states. In one of his writings, Thomas Jefferson said, "The greatest service that can be offered to any nation is to add a useful plant to that country's culture." He considered bringing the olive tree and dry rice to South Carolina to be two of his most significant accomplishments throughout the course of his lifetime. In a letter dated January 13, 1813, Thomas Jefferson wrote to James Ronaldson, "It is now twenty-five years since I sent them (southern planters) two shipments of about 500 plants of the olive tree of Aix, the finest olive trees in the world." Jefferson was referring to the fact that Jefferson had previously sent two shipments of olive trees to southern planters.

Olive trees produce fragrant flowers that are very small and creamy white in color. These blossoms are concealed beneath the thick leaves of the olive tree. There are cultivars that are capable of self-pollination while others are not. The flowers often start to emerge in April, and their blooming period may last for several months. At the age of eight years, a wild olive tree that started out as a seedling will often start to blossom and bear fruit. In most cultivars, the fruit of the olive tree matures to a color that is somewhere between green and a purplish-black hue. Nevertheless, there are olives that mature to a color that is anywhere between green and a brownish-copper hue. Even on the same tree, olive fruits may vary in size and form, ranging from round to oval with pointy ends. The size of the olive fruit can also change. Some olives may be eaten fresh after being dried in the sun, and the flavor is pleasant. However, the majority of olive cultivars have a bitter flavor, and they need to be treated with a variety of chemical solutions before they can grow into edible olives. If the olives on the limbs of the trees are thinned down so that there are only two or three per twig, the final size of the olives will be much greater. Midway through the month of October is when the fruit is harvested, and it must be processed as quickly as possible to avoid fermentation and a decrease in quality.

Olive trees have grayish-green leaves that fall off every two to three years in the spring, after the new growth has emerged and are replaced by new leaves. It is highly vital to do harsh pruning on an annual basis in order to maintain output. According to John 15:2, the branches of the trees that are not productive are cut off "so that they will be more fruitful." Olive trees have the potential to reach a height of 50 feet and have a limb spread of 30 feet. However, the vast majority of olive producers keep their trees cut to a height of 20 feet to ensure the highest possible yield. Even if the olive trees are taken down, new shoots and trees will grow from the roots of the tree stumps. There are olive trees that are said to be over a thousand years old, although the majority of olive trees will only live to be around 500 years old.

Olives are often gathered by shaking the fruit off of trees onto canvas, using harvesting machines, or by beating the fruit off of the branches with poles. After the color of the bulk of the fruit has started to change, most of the olives that are maturing are picked off of the trees. It is essential to extract the olive oil within a day after harvesting the olives; if this is not done, fermentation may develop, which will result in a reduction in taste and quality. Immediately after the olive oil is extracted from the press, it may be eaten or put to use in various culinary preparations. Olive oils are one of a kind and unmistakable; each brand of olive oil has its own personality, which is founded on a variety of characteristics and is comparable to the distinctive taste distinctions that can be found in good wines. Olive oils that have been prepared for commercial use may vary quite a bit in scent and fruit flavor; the taste can be floral, nutty, delicate, or mild; and the coloration of olive oil can also change quite a bit.

When used in cooking or drizzled over salads, olive oil confers a number of positive health effects on the consumer. The use of olive oil may help to improve digestion, and the low cholesterol level of olive oil can be beneficial to the metabolism of the heart. Olive oil consumption, according to medical professionals, will cause a person's hair to become more shiny, will prevent dandruff, will prevent wrinkles, will prevent dry skin and acne, will strengthen nails, will stop muscle aches, will lower blood pressure, and will counteract the effects of alcohol consumption.

Olive trees are able to withstand dry conditions, high winds, soils with a pH of up to 8.5, as well as salt water conditions. Olive trees grow best in soils that are well-drained and up to pH 8.5. Olive trees in Europe are often fed with organic fertilizer every other year. This practice is common in the region. Heavy pruning may be used to prevent alternate bearing, and in most cases, the trees react quite quickly and positively to this treatment.

It is best to acquire olive trees that have been vegetatively propagated or grafted, since seed-grown trees will eventually revert to a wild kind that produces olives that are tiny in size and have a flavor that is lacking in complexity. Olive trees are less likely to be treated with pesticides than any other kind of crop because they are more resistant to illnesses and insects than other types of fruit trees.

Greece has been the world's leading exporter of olive oil over the years, despite being invaded by the Romans in 146 BC and having their olive oil production techniques taken to Rome by the victorious Romans. It would seem that the olive tree has evolved to its full potential in order to thrive in the warm environment of the Mediterranean nations. Even if there is a drought or there is a lot of wind, the trees are able to thrive well in locations that are dry and have moderate winters and long hot summers. The Mediterranean region in Europe is responsible for the production of 98 percent of the world's olive oil supply. It is thought that olive seeds were sent to California in 1769 in order to develop into trees that could withstand temperatures as low as 12 degrees Fahrenheit. The Franciscan monasteries in Spain were responsible for the cultivation of these olive trees.

The recent introduction of promising cold-hardy olive trees from European hybridizers has stimulated a great deal of interest in growing olives throughout the South. This is true despite the fact that commercial olive production in the United States accounts for only 2% of the global olive market. A significant number of people who emigrated from Europe to the United States now cultivate their own olive trees in huge pots that can be brought in and out of the home as the seasons change.

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