Around the time Homer was writing the Iliad, someone planted an olive tree in Turkey near what later must have become a Roman burial site in the Muğla’s Milas district of Western Turkey. The tree is gigantic, as you can see below. It is 41 feet in circumference.
The tree, known as Ata Ağaç (elder tree) was difficult to date because, as olive trees grow to be very old, they become mostly hollow on the inside. Because of that, the team from Ankara University did not use standard Carbon 14 dating. Rather, they used luminescence dating from soil samples in the trees roots.
Luminescence dating is a newer dating technique based on the fact that radiation is absorbed and stored and by exposing an object to light, they can measure how long it has been since it was last exposed. Based on that data, they concluded that it was probably planted around 3,000 years ago.
Shockingly, this is not the oldest olive tree in the world. That belongs to the Olive Tree of Vouves in Crete. It was estimated by the University of Crete to be around 4,000 years old, which would be around the time that Crete was flourishing during the Minoan civilization. The tree is similarly huge:
Olives were first cultivated in Crete beginning around 3,000 BC. It is thought that the sale of olives and olive oil may have been the primary source of income for Minoans.