Odysseus Unbound - The Search for Homer’s Ithaca

Lapworth Lecture - Birmingham University - March 19 2007 at 17:00

Where was Homer’s Ithaca ?

John R. Underhill – Professor of Stratigraphy at the Grant Institute of Earth Science, University of Edinburgh

Did the Greek island of Cephalonia consist of two separate land masses in the late Bronze Age (Holocene) about 3,000 years ago? And if so, was its western peninsula the island that Homer describes in the Odyssey when he says that Odysseus' homeland of Ithaca lies out to sea and furthest to the west?

On Monday March 19 John Underhill will present the geological facts and the latest discoveries surrounding this intriguing proposal. He believes that catastrophic rockfalls and landslides since 1200 BC may have infilled a narrow marine channel and caused the western peninula of Cephalonia to be joined to the rest of the island. If this can be proved it will provide an elegant and compelling answer to where Homer’s island of Ithaca was actually located during the Bronze Age.

The Lapworth Museum of Geology has the finest and most extensive collections of fossils, minerals and rocks in the Midland Region. It is named after Charles Lapworth, the first Professor of Geology at Mason College, the forerunner of the University of Birmingham. Lapworth was one of the most important and influential geologists in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. The Lapworth Lectures on popular geological subjects are aimed at students, the general public and amateur enthusiasts.

There is no charge for admission to this public lecture, which will take place at 5 p.m. in the Palaeontology Laboratory, G21, Earth Sciences, Aston Webb Building. For a map of the building's location, see http://www.bham.ac.uk/about/maps/edgbastonmap.shtml. For further details, contact Jon Clatworthy: j.c.clatworthy@bham.ac.uk

Odysseus Unbound: The Search for Homer’s Ithaca by Robert Bittlestone, with James Diggle and John Underhill. 618 pages, 340 colour illustrations. Cambridge University Press ISBN 0521853575.