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Olive wood

Olive wood

The olive is a a species of small tree in the family Oleaceae found throughout Mediterranean region. Because of its prominence in Greece and Italy, it has historically played a significant role in their cultures and has been a major agricultural product in these countries since ancient times.[1][2]


According to the myth, Kekrops, the first king of Attika, sought a patron god for his new city. Both the god Poseidon and the goddess Athena applied, and they were tasked to give a gift to the people. When Athena struck her spear into the ground, the first olive tree sprouted, and the divine jury, among them the god Zeus, decided that she was the winner.[3]

Due to this origin story, the olive trees of Athens were considered the holiest in all of the Greek world,[4] and their oil was highly prized, serving as the reward in the contests during the Athenian Panathenaia festival.[5]


Its fruit, also called the olive, is a core ingredient in Mediterranean cuisine, and the tree itself was a substantial source of wood for the Greeks during the Peloponnesian War.[1] In Ptolemaic Egypt, olive oil was valued as much as it was in Classical Greece.[6]

The olive wreath, given as a prize of the champion at the Olympic Games, was made from the Olympic Tree situated within the Sanctuary of Olympia in Elis.[1] Olive wreath was also placed on the door of a home to signify the birth of a son.[7]

To this day, owing to the legacy of Classical Greek culture, the olive branch remains a symbol of peace.[8]

The club of one of the mightiest heroes in Greek mythology, Herakles, was also made of a large branch of an olive tree in Argolis.[1]

Due to the color of the fruit, a specific green dye has been named olive since the Renaissance.[9]




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