Olive and Crete

\Olive groves and vineyards to the sea ..."

Odysseas Elytis

The olive tree, already known by the Minoans, was the holy tree of ancient Cretans. It was represented, as a symbol of peace, by a dove with an olive twig in its beak.

Excavations of enormous ceramic oil reservoirs and antique oil presses in Knossos and Festos are witnesses of the centuries old tradition of the Cretans as oil producers.

In this way, olive oil is one of the most important food resources for the islands inhabitants and the Cretans, it is said, are statistically some of the longest living people on earth, due to their nutrition. Besides, in the antique, olive oil was also used for body care, for pharmaceutical purposes and as a lighting fuel in lamps.

The olive tree (oleum europaea)

Olive trees may grow as old as 2000 years and will produce a harvest after 5 to 8 years. Trees aged between 30 to 150 years are most productive and can produce as much as 100 kg of olives per harvest (every two years).

From this however only 10 to 20 litres oil is won, and the yield may be less with green young olives, than with mature fully ripened fruits.

  • © Michalis Manoussakis, 2022