Zaitounah Museum new addition to Tunisian heritage


Zaitounah Museum new addition to Tunisian heritage

By Naceur M’tir

SOUSSE, Tunisia, July 12 (KUNA) — The Zaitounah (olive) Museum which was
opened recently in the eastern city of Sousse is considered a new addition
to the Tunisian cultural heritage due to the pivotal role the olive tree
plays in the lives of Tunisians and the population of the Medieterranean

The two-storey building is bulit accoring to the ancient Islamic
architecture and depicts the various historic stages through which the olive
tree has gone in Tunisia thousands of years ago.

Visitors of the museum will see life-size photos and designs of people and
tools used in the planting of olive trees, harvesting, cleaning and storage
of olives before extracting oil from it.

The museum, the first of its kind, also shows visitors a complete picture of
the role of olive oil and its daily uses, be that in diets or in treatment.

On motives behind establishing this museum, its rector Aly Gadira told KUNA
that the oilve tree is not only a source of economic wealth, but also a
symbol of peace and vital part of the Tunisian society since ancient times.

Gadira said that it also aims at preserving the heritage of this “blessed”
tree for future generations, noting that this tree remained steadfast before
the various civilizations which ruled Tunisia over some 3000 years like the
Berbers, Phoenicians, Byzantines, Arabs, Spaniards and Turks.

He said that the most ancient documented sources available report that the
olive tree was brought into Palestine from Armenia 4000 BC and then taken by
the Phoenicians to Greece and later to North Africa, particularly Tunisia.

Since the ancient times, olive oil was the choice of the elite and notables
in Tunisia and other countries of the region. It was used in religious
rituals, as a massage oil, producing perfumes and for other medical

According to the latest figures, there are an estimated 55 million olive
trees stretching from the country’s north to south and covering an area of
nearly 1.6 million hectares or 30 percent of Tunisia’s farmlands.

Tunisia is the world’s second largest producer and exporter of olive oil
after EU states, mainly Italy and Spain.

Article originally published by Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) 12-Jul-04