According to the Tunisian olive museum (known as Zaitounah Museum), olive first came to Palestine from Armenia. Then, it spread to the Mediterranean and North Africa.
As explained in a news article from 2004, the newly opened Zaitounah Museum in the eastern city of Sousse is regarded as an addition to the Tunisian cultural heritage. Olive plays a pivotal role in the lives of Tunisians and the population of the Mediterranean.
The rector of the museum Aly Gadira said that the museum also aims at preserving the heritage of the “blessed” tree for the upcoming generations. It is quite remarkable that the veneration of the tree remained unchanged, even though Tunisia has been ruled by a number of civilizations over the past 3000 years, like Berbers, Phoenicians, Byzantines, Arabs, Spaniards, and Turks.
Gadira said that according to the most ancient documented sources available, olive tree was brought into Palestine to Armenia in ca. 4000 BC. Phoenicians then took it to Greece and later North Africa and Tunisia in particular. Since antiquity, olive oil has been in favor of the elite and notables of Tunisia, as well as other countries of the region. It has been used in religious rituals, production of perfumes, massage, and for medical purposes.
According to the recent estimations, there are 55 million olive trees stretching from Tunisia’s north to south and covering an area of 1.6 million hectares, which is 30% of the country’s farmlands. Tunisia is the second largest producer of olive oil in the world after EU states, particularly, Italy and Spain.
The article was originally published by Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) on 12 July, 2004. The URL to the original article no longer works, but fortunately, PeopleOfAr.com managed to get a screenshot of the page, which you can see below.
Later, Azad Knarig kindly provided a working link to the website Kuwait News Agency KUNA