(The olive is the first of all trees, Roman agricultural writer and theorist Lucius Junius Moderatus Columella)
The olive has been around since the ancient times. Our ancestors gathered wild olive fruit as early as the Stone Age, however the first olive grove cultivation started some 5-6 thousand years ago across Mesopotamia, Syria and Palestine from where it spread to the Mediterranean. As one of the oldest and most important crops in the Mediterranean the olive left a strong mark on the everyday life and became a symbol of the area. It played an important part in the development of civilization, nutrition, medicine, economy, mythology, religion and art. In addition to becoming a cornerstone of nutrition, the olive was used as a trading commodity and a means of payment, for healing and cosmetic purposes. Many different symbolic meanings had been attributed to the olive and it became a symbol of peace, life, health and abundance. Incredibly important and almost immortal in the eyes of the people the olive could only have been the result of divine grace thus serving as the symbol of divine grace in Christianity. The olive tree truly is a special and almost miraculous tree. It is durable and can even live as long as a few thousand years. Because of the composition of the soil and its ideal climate Istria is very suitable for olive growing, the Vodnjan region being one of the best in Croatian olive oil production.