Discovering the First Traces of the Olive
September 14, 2006
The olive appeared wild in the Mediterrean basin many thousands of years ago. The cultivation of the olive spread along with the ancient civilizations of the Mediterranean. Written sources indicate that the olive tree became known first among the peoples of the eastern Mediterranean, in Syria and Asia Minor and that the Greeks and the Phoenicians brought it to the west.
Many finds indicate how widespread the tree was. In several areas of Greece, such as Santorini, Nisyrus and Cyme in Euboea, excavations have turned up fossilized remains of olive (olea europaea) leaves dated by the most recent techniques available to about 50,000 to 60,000 years ago, thus making Greece one of the earliest places in which the olive was cultivated. With the help of palaeobotany, radiocarbon dating and other methods of dating olive pollen, a considerable number of areas in which the olive grew have been located around the Mediterranean. Pollen spores have been found in various areas of Greece, such as Epirus, dating to 6000 B.C., eastern mainland Greece, dating to 3255 B.C. and Thessaly, dating to 3200 B.C.
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