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A History Of Olive Farming

The Origins of The Olive Tree

The origin and domestication of the olive tree coincides and mingles with the growth of Mediterranean civilisations.  It's thought that the olive was first domesticated in the Eastern Mediterranean between 8,000, and 6,000 years ago. However, fossilised remnants of the ancestor of the olive tree were found near Livorno, Italy from 20,000,000 years ago.

The Beginning of the Cultivation and Farming of Olives

It is believed that olives were first cultivated in the Eastern parts of the Mediterranean around 5,000BC and then progressed west from Crete to Syria, Palestine, and Israel and then through to Greece, Egypt, Cyprus, and Turkey. As the Greek empire expanded in the 8th Century olive farming hit Southen Italy and Northern Africa. It then expanded into Southern France and Spain. Under the rules of the Roman Empire olive trees were planted throughout the Mediterranean.

Olive Farming Spreads

When Europeans landed in America they brought olive farming with them and the practice spread beyond its Mediterranean confines. The first olive trees were carried from Seville to the West Indies and later to the American Continent. By 1560 groves were being grown in Mexico and then also in Peru, California, Argentia and Chile. In Argentina, the Arauco olive tree is still grown, after being brought over from the Conquest.

Olive Trees Around The World

Today the olive tree is farmed well beyond the Mediterranean and is as far away as Southern Africa, Japan, China and Australia. As the French author George Duhamel said, "the Mediterranean ends where the olive tree no longer grows", adding, "there where the sun permits, the olive tree takes root and gains ground".

 

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