Odysseus Unbound - The Search for Homer’s Ithaca


Jan 7 2007

Compelling new evidence and film about Homer’s Ithaca to be released on Tuesday January 9


Drilling rig, Oct 9: click to enlargeOn Tuesday January 9 2007 at 20:00 GMT there will be a significant announcement about the results of new geological tests in Kefallinia aimed at identifying the island of Ithaca, the homeland of Odysseus that is described in Homer’s Odyssey. These tests have been conducted under Professor John Underhill's supervision in conjunction with Greece's geological institute IGME. The announcement will be preceded by a short film about the tests on UK Channel 4 TV News.


A dramatic new theory about the location of Homer’s Ithaca was put forward by British businessman Robert Bittlestone, Cambridge classicist Professor James Diggle and Edinburgh geologist Professor John Underhill in 2005. They proposed that the Ithaca described in Homer’s Odyssey is to be found on the western peninsula of Kefallinia, not the Greek island that is today called Ithaki.


John Underhill, Robert Bittlestone, James Diggle on the Queens' College Bridge: click to enlargeIf it can be proved that this peninsula was a separate island at the time of the Trojan War c. 1200 BC then they will have found the answer to a historical enigma that has defied numerous attempts at solution for over 2,500 years. This will also pave the way for a refocussed search for the lost city and palace of Odysseus.


In October 2006 they drilled a 122 metre (400 foot) borehole at the neck of the peninsula in Kefallinia to test the theory. The material from the borehole has now been analysed and its results, together with the outcome of a battery of other onshore and offshore tests, will be published at 20:00 GMT on Tuesday January 9 at www.odysseus-unbound.org.


Channel 4 News science correspondent Julian Rush filmed the drilling operation and the resulting 10-minute news film will be broadcast on UK Channel 4 between 19:00 and 20:00 GMT on Tuesday January 9. Other TV channels wishing to license this film footage for transmission on their own national networks are invited to contact Fiona Railton. A small-screen version of the film will be made available on the Channel 4 website shortly afterwards. For background to the project, click here to watch Channel 4's previous news film.


An embargoed Press Release and Detailed Results briefing are now available to accredited news journalists at the Press Resources section.