The history of the olive tree dates back to years prior to the organized life of man on earth. This is inferred from various sources. The DeCandole study of «Origindesplantescultivees», says the cultivation of olives was known 4000 years BC and that the tree originates from the coast of Asia Minor, based on the existence of native wild olive vegetation and in the ancient texts and excavations. Anagnostopoulos (1951) argued this, based on the findings of the excavations at Knossos, the homeland of olives is Crete. This assumption is supported by the fact that the olive name is Greek and maintained in all languages.
Today, across the globe there are about 800 million olive trees from which around 95% are grown in the Mediterranean basin which has excellent soil and climatic conditions for the development of olives. In Greece, the olive cultivation is very widely spread. The spread of olive cultivation is greater than any other kind of fruit trees and occupies an area that accounts for about 15% of the cultivated agricultural land and 75% of areas of tree crops.
The olive oil or “liquid gold”, according to Homer in antiquity was not just a food, but was a symbol of health and strength, medicine, as well as a source of magic and wonder. Specifically, in ancient Greece, athletes rubbed it all over the body, because they believed that it would give them strength and luck and was emblem sanctification and purity.
The cultivation of oil is lost in the mists of time.
Olive fossils have been found in Livorno, Italy dating back 20 million years ago, and the cultivation of olives is estimated to have originated in the Mediterranean region, about 7000 years ago. With regard to Greece, the first evidence for cultivation in Greece, according to archaeological findings, launched in Crete 3,500 years ago.