To a great extent, the Mediterranean people owe their good health
and longevity to olive oil. On the island of Crete, olive oil has
been essential to both nutrition and to the local economy for at
least five-thousand years, since the time of the Minoan civilization,
the first civilization in Europe. Archaeologists now mention the
existence of vast olive plantations on Crete and believe that even
the marvelous Minoan Palace at Knossos was built among olive trees.
Traded by the Minoans around the Mediterranean, the olive oil
brought them economic strength and power with which they were able
to build cities and palaces all over Crete.
The olive oil, along with the other products of the Cretan soil, has
been the major export of Cretans during the Neolithic period. The
ships of Keftiu (ancient Egyptian word for Cretans) sailed across
the Mediterranean Sea transporting olive-oil, wine and the famous
herbs. It was at that time when the Cretan landscape was first
associated with extensive olive plantations, and the olive tree had
thought to be sacred. Cretans rightfully offered the blessed olive
juice to the Gods; moreover they were also known to infuse the oil
with the famous Cretan herbs.
In the classical times the “blossom-carriers” of ancient Greek
rituals carried olive branches, the symbol of freshness. According
to Aristotle, in Athens, whoever destroyed or eradicated an olive
tree was condemned to death. For the Athenians the olive tree was a
present to their city from Athena, the wise and brave Goddess.
Cretans on the other hand, considered the Goddess of the olive tree,
Athena, to be their present to mankind. They once said that she had
been born to the south of Knossos, near the river Triton.
Respected and revered throughout the Greek world, the olive fruit
and olive oil were priced not only for their nutritional value but
also for their medicinal properties. Olive oil soothed the aching
limbs of athletes, it moisturized the skin and hair, it brought
light to the home and it was used in religious ceremonies. Olive oil
pervaded almost every aspect of daily life as it continues to do so
This liquid Gold as the Greeks call it, is not only precious but
also a symbol of peace, intellect and victory.