A conversation with Alexander Olson about the secret lives of olive trees and oak trees in Byzantium. Contrary to what you may think, these were not cultivated consistently in the Mediterranean ecosystem of the Middle Ages; their uses to the human population fluctuated over time, giving the trees a history of their own, albeit one shaped by that of the people around them (and vice versa).
Alexander Olson is an independent scholar in British Columbia, Canada. The conversation is based on Alex’s fascinating book, Environment and Society in Byzantium, 650-1150: Between the Oak and the Olive (Palgrave Macmillan 2020).
Byzantium & Friends is hosted by Anthony Kaldellis, Professor and Chair of the Department of Classics at The Ohio State University. You can follow him on his personal website.
Top Image: Olive trees – photo by H. Zell / Wikimedia Commons