Olive, which has been seen in the Mediterranean basin for 6000 years, is one of the oldest known tree species. It is known that the main homeland of the olive tree was Southeastern Anatolia, Syria and Palestine before the writing was invented. It spreads from here to Crete and ancient Greece, from there to the entire Mediterranean basin.
The branch of the olive tree, called "immortal tree" in Anatolia, as it can live for a thousand years, is one of the characteristic features of the Mediterranean culture as a symbol of peace. The symbolic origin of the olive branch, which is accepted as a symbol of peace in both modern Europe and the Arab world, dates back to ancient Egypt.
In ancient Greece, an olive branch was used to pray gods or to approach power elites and in addition, in the holy books, olive branch was mentioned quite a lot.
For example, after the flood, Noah sends a dove to see if the water subside in the earth. When it returns, it has an olive branch in her mouth and Noah understands that the water have subsided. From that day on, the olive branch becomes the symbol of hope, vitality and peace.
The double snake ferula in the symbol of medical science is actually an olive branch, and it is rumored that God puts his ferula between the two snakes to measure Hermes' peacemaking power. Snakes stop fighting and suddenly hug the ferula and do not leave. This image has been the symbol of Hermes' medical science ever since.
This symbol refers that the olive tree plays an important role in the establishment of peace as well as its positive effects on health.
Ancient Greece and Roman
The abundance of olive trees in ancient Greece has allowed its use to spread over a wide range from health to construction and it has become a symbol of abundance and fertility.
In ancient Greece, the hiketeria was an olive branch that was held while praying to the gods or approaching power elites.
In Greek mythology, Athena and Posedion face off to own the city of Athens.
Poseidon thrusts his spear into the Acropolis and opens a well in which sea water gushes out. So Poseidon claimed that the city must belong to him.
In return, Athena plants the first olive tree next to that well. Gods and goddesses decide that Athena should have Athens. Because Athena gave these lands a better gift.
According to the Romans, there was a close relationship between war and peace, and the god of war. Mars, had another side: Mars Pacifer, who brings peace, was shown on the coins of the Roman Empire with an olive branch in his hand afterwards.
Mythologies of ancient times and religious factors brought together the dove and olive branch over time. The dove and olive branch were no longer only a religious or mythological symbol.
In the 18th century in Britain and America, the olive branch at the mouth of the dove was used as a symbol of peace. The petition accepted by the American Continental Congress in July 1775 was called the Olive Branch Petition, hoping to avoid a full war with Great Britain.
Picasso's dove bearing an olive branch painting was used in the poster prepared for the first World Peace Congress held after World War II.
Today, the world map on the flag of U.N is surrounded by two olive branches.