Odysseus Unbound - The Search for Homer’s Ithaca

King's College School, Wimbledon

March 2 2006 at 16:10 and at 19:00, Collyer Hall, Wimbledon Common, London SW19 4TT

Odysseus Unbound: The Search for Homer’s Ithaca

King's College School Classical Society has arranged two seminars on March 2 2006 to be presented in Collyer Hall by Robert Bittlestone (Chairman, Metapraxis) and Professor James Diggle (Classics, Cambridge) on the subject of their recent book Odysseus Unbound: The Search for Homer’s Ithaca. The book proposes that the location of Odysseus' homeland of Ithaca was not the island that bears that name today but was instead the western peninsula of Cephalonia, which is called Paliki. The presentation will be of relevance to all those who are interested in the origins of Western culture, with particular significance for those studying Greek, Latin, History, Archaeology, Geology, Geoinformatics or Computer Science.

For the convenience of students, parents and other visitors the 16:10 seminar will be repeated at 19:00. The topic will be illustrated throughout with slides, satellite photography and computer animations. Audience participation is welcomed in the question and answer session afterwards, when it is anticipated that there will be a discussion about the relationship between this recent discovery and our understanding of the Odyssey. After both seminars there will be an opportunity to meet the authors and to purchase signed copies of the book, which has also been co-authored by Professor John Underhill (Geology, Edinburgh). At 20.00 there will be an informal reception in the adjacent Cotman Gallery.

The Discovery: At a Press Conference in London on September 29 2005 a radical new solution was presented for the 3,000-year old enigma of the location of Odysseus’ island of Ithaca that is described in such detail in Homer’s Odyssey. Within 24 hours the news of this discovery had been relayed by over 100 newspapers, TV and radio stations world-wide. Since then the authors have delivered televised seminars about the discovery to audiences in London, Washington, Athens and Cephalonia.

The Book: Odysseus Unbound: The Search for Homer’s Ithaca was published by Cambridge University Press on October 6 2005 and is now in its second printing, having sold out its initial run of 10,000 copies. Printed with over 300 full-colour illustrations, it combines a gripping modern day adventure story with a detailed analysis of the geological and classical underpinning to the discovery of ancient Ithaca.

The Adventure: The research for Odysseus Unbound has involved over 40 international experts in fields ranging from seismology to carbon-14 dating and the decipherment of Linear B. Some King's College students also worked onsite during their summer holidays to assist with practical tasks such as fieldwork and geological measurements.

Reviews: “I've just finished reading Odysseus Unbound and I have to say that the experience was utterly enthralling from start to finish”… “A fascinating and compelling book”…“Impossible to put down, more impossible still to forget once you have read it”….“One of the most compelling books I have read for ages – a gripping detective story, gradually unfolding layer by layer”…“Scholars will now have to think again about received wisdom on the Odyssey”…“Shines a light on the past and its scholarly achievement must be acknowledged”…“The photos are beautiful, the logic is elegant, the science is very educational, and the conclusion is convincing.”

The Website: At www.odysseus-unbound.org you can read about the project so far and the plans for future work. At the Reviews page you can follow the emerging classical controversy: can Odysseus' island be identified this closely? If so, how could Homer have known the geography so well? TV, radio and newspaper reports from all over the world can be accessed on the Press page, together with a diary of recent and forthcoming Events.

The Speakers: Robert Bittlestone is a management consultant and King's College parent. James Diggle is Professor of Greek and Latin at Cambridge University and a Fellow of Queens' College. His publications include The Oxford Classical Text of Euripides (Oxford, 1981-94), Euripidea: Collected Essays (Oxford, 1994) and Theophrastus: Characters (Cambridge, 2004). He was University Orator at Cambridge for eleven years and has published a selection of his speeches in Cambridge Orations (Cambridge, 1994).

The event is open to the public and there is no attendance charge, although numbers are limited. For booking inquiries, contact the Head of Classics, Chris Jackson: cmj@kcs.org.uk. Copies of the book can also be purchased beforehand from bookshops such as Wimbledon Books and Music and brought to the seminar for signature by the authors.