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The Olive

According to Abrahamic beliefs the Olive was the first sign of the world’s return to ‘terra firma’… the possibility to sustain life-forms on land.

Noah seeing mountain tops reappearing out of the waves realised that sea levels were receding, sent out a raven and later a dove. The creator of the universe had now made peace with mankind and offered an olive branch as a sign of reconciliation and the dove as it’s messenger.  Some thousand? years earlier according to oral Sumerian epic, Gilgamesh (himself part deity) wishes to measure the possibility of a settled life on land. The symbolism of dove and olive are again used here.  These prehistoric events are now recognised by many to have taken place at  the end of the Ice Age when the Black Sea and the Arabian Gulf became as were know them today .

Dove and Olive have retained their symbolic value over the millennia.

In Hellenistic times the history of the olive tree was traced back to the ‘original’ olive that was planted by Athena on the Partheno.

As the story goes Athena and Poseidon vied to possess this port city.  It was decided that they should each offer a gift… and the Athenians being democratic would decide  which they preferred.

Poseidon struck the ground over the city with his trident and a spring appeared… The water was salty!

Athena struck the same ground with her spear and a great olive tree flowered. The citizens chose her gift and named the city Athens.

Olive groves were planted in her honour all through the hellenistic world and she was present in each grove. 

The piers running to the harbour held oil lamps to provide light at night.

Today we equate the Olive with cuisine, cosmetics and soap… forgetting that its oil was first used for light reflected from stone holders onto the wall paintings of ancient caves, then  exported to the flood plains of Egypt where it flickered in the ceramic lamps of public buildings.

1200 years old olive tree

the Arcadian Way at the famous port of Ephesus

Above is a photograph of the Arcadiane Way at the famous port of Ephesus; the passage opened up into an eclipse as it reached the harbour walls. The port was in use up till the 7th Century latterly with the use of a channel as the River Meander caused the port to silt up. Today the harbour area is but a salty marsh though the Turkish Authorities do have a grand plan to dredge and open Ephesus Harbour again! The piers running to the harbour held oil lamps to provide light at night.

In fact all the streets of Ephesus are known to have had street lighting. 

No disadvantage of smoke or fear of fire!

The Olive is indigenous to the escarpments and well-drained promonteries of the East Mediterranean littoral. It is a proud self sufficient tree that requires to be left to its own devices and once grafted will provide fruit every year… sometimes more abundantly.

As with Diogenes of Sinop… all it requires is not to be overshadowed!

In fact the roots of the Olive exude an acidity which makes  the surrounding soil  unsuitable for plant life.

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