History & Culture

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 today.

This liquid Gold as the Greeks call it, is not only precious but also a symbol of peace, intellect and victory.

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