by Sandro Pintus

The Olive Tree
The Symbol of the Mediterranean

This is the time of year in which the Olive tree becomes the Queen of plants. It is the time of the harvesting of the olives and their pressing. This precious oil which has provided the peoples of the Mediterranean with an indispensible source of nourishment for thousands of years though it is also used for medicinal purposes and for illuminating houses. Even today, the Olive tree and its fruit are still the symbol of Mare Nostrum, as they have been for many thousands of years.

A 200 year old olive tree has been exhibited in the centre of Florence
in front of the church of S.Gaetano in Via Tornabuoni (Photo by FAN )
Historians agree that Man was already cultivating the wild olive tree from the time of the Stone Age, though the first certain information dates from about 8.000 years ago; in fact the wild olive was cultivated in Jericho in that period. It was cultivated 4.000 years ago in Mesopotamia, Palestine and Syria which, in its turn, sold it to the Egyptians with whom it was very popular. It then arrived in Greece and went from there to the Greek settlements in southern Italy. The Phoenicians took it to Carthage and it even arrived in Portugal via the coasts of Africa. The Olive tree followed the civilization of Man all the way around the Mediterranean.

This plant is in fact the symbol of Mediterranean culture. Perhaps in order to thank it for all it has given them, the peoples of the Mediterranean have chosen it as their symbol of Peace. See also: Olive oil and its properties Thousand year old olive trees The message contained in typical aspect of the tree
Silvia Messeri & Sandro Pintus

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