The Ancient Olive Tree

Archaeological data on the use and importance of the olive in antiquity confirms that the olive tree was one of the most useful and most popular trees of the ancient Greeks.

According to our mythology the olive tree was brought Greece by Goddess Athena, who also taught us its methods of cultivation.

One of the most well known myths is that Athena and Poseidon fought for the “naming rights” of the capital. Athena offered as the olive tree and Poseidon offered us water. The people chose the olive tree and the capital was name Athens.

Athena’ sacred tree was planted at the Parthenon, and at the Academy there were the 12 sacred trees and the sacred olive grove that produce the oil given to the winners of the Panathinea games, while the era’s coins were depicting Athena with an olive wreath and an oilive oil amphora or an olive tree branch.

Another myth says that Hercules (whose bat was made of wild olive tree) brought olive seeds from the land of the Hyperboreans (mythical people that the Greeks believed that lived beyond the North or other interpretation in the sky) and planted them in Olympia, giving the branches with which Olympic Games winners were crowned with.

Phidias’ statue of Zeus at Olympia, made with gold and ivory, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, is also crowned with an olive tree branch.