The story of the Olive Tree of Jerusalem
According to the Old Testament, God sent Noah a dove with an olive branch in its mouth to alert him to the end of the flood. Due to its relatively long life and cultivation by the human species, the olive tree is a central agricultural component of many ancient cultures. The domestication of this food source is estimated at about 4000 BCE, when the Neolithic people migrated into the Mediterranean Basin area. It is little wonder why the olive tree is associated with peace; its many uses were a boon to ancient societies, and it was regarded as a gift from the gods in many civilizations. In ancient Greek mythology, the goddess Athena was associated with the olive tree as she was the one credited with giving it to the Greeks. In the Koran, olives, among other fruits, were cited as one of Allah’s obvious gifts. Still today, to “extend an olive branch” is to make an attempt to correct a conflict. The flag of the United Nations depicts the world with two olive branches on either side, symbolizing its goal of world peace. The Olive Tree Mural of Jerusalem which you see is a unique creation of my mother Marie Balian, a talented tile artist, who came up with this spectacular tile design in the late 80’s. With a stylized Olive Tree in the middle , she incorporates birds and gazelles in this mural to imagine a scene of paradise painted on ceramic tiles.