The olive tree is declared by many to be the per­fect botan­i­cal spec­i­men – a tree with a heart and soul. It pro­vides health-enrich­ing prod­ucts, is beau­ti­ful to behold, and extremely hardy — being resis­tant to both fire and drought.

Such char­ac­ter­is­tics enable it to live for vast peri­ods of time. But exactly how long mankind has been ben­e­fit­ting from this splen­did tree is still some­what of an enigma.

The archae­o­log­i­cal record stands tes­ta­ment to the extent that olive trees have been inter­wo­ven with dif­fer­ent civ­i­liza­tions since ancient times; and antiq­uity has pro­vided us with numer­ous ref­er­ences, for exam­ple:


Vouves Olive Tree

  • the olive tree was said to be a gift from the god­dess Athena to the city of Athens for mak­ing her their patron god­dess
  • an olive wreath was given to win­ners of the ancient Olympic games
  • referred to as “liq­uid gold” by Homer, olive oil was a com­monly used skin care prod­uct by the Phoenicians, Egyptians, Romans, and Greeks
  • the Bible ref­er­ences olive trees and olive oil on more than 140 occa­sions

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Located on the Greek island of Crete can be found a liv­ing piece of antiq­uity. Estimated at any­where from 3,000 to 5,000 years old is the ‘Vouves Olive Tree’ — fit­tingly trea­sured as a liv­ing mon­u­ment and still pro­duc­ing highly prized olives to this day.

But the olive tree of Vouvres has some stiff com­pe­ti­tion from Northern Lebanon. Trees called ‘The Sisters’ pro­duce an award-win­ning extra vir­gin olive oil with extremely high polyphe­nols and acid­ity lev­els of between 0.18º and 0.24º. The taste is described as intense, fruity, medium pep­per, with a palette of fresh grass; but­tery with notes of almond and wal­nut.


The Sisters, Lebanon

Proceeds from sales are used to fund a preser­va­tion pro­gram. ‘The Sisters’ are said to be from an undoc­u­mented olive tree vari­ety, an ances­tor of the Balasi Ayrouni. And the asserted age of these spec­tac­u­lar trees? Over 6000 years — they are even claimed to be ‘the’ source of that olive branch brought by the dove back to Noah herald­ing the end of the flood.



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