Odysseus Unbound - The Search for Homer’s Ithaca


Jan 9 2007

Compelling new evidence announced today about the location of Homer’s Ithaca

  • Drilling rig in operation: click to enlarge New scientific evidence closes in on western Kefallinia as Homer’s Ithaca
  • Catastrophic rockfalls and landslides triggered by earthquakes believed to have filled in ancient sea channel and created a landlocked isthmus
  • 122 metre (400 foot) borehole at isthmus meets no solid limestone bedrock
  • Greek Geological Institute survey pinpoints submerged marine valley
  • Bulgarian scientists locate microscopic marine fossils caught up in the rockfall
  • American ground-penetrating radar confirms channel contours
  • Ancient roads interrupted by landslides still visible on the surface
  • Microscopic marine fossils caught up in the rockfall: click to enlarge Detailed scientific findings and supporting photographs provided
  • Channel 4 News film update broadcast at 19:43 GMT on January 9
London, January 9 2007. Results were announced today of new geological work which supports the dramatic theory about the location of Homer’s Ithaca 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 western Kefallinia, not the Greek island that is today called Ithaki. Within 24 hours the news had been relayed by over 100 newspapers, TV and radio stations world-wide.


Closeup of the 122 metre borehole: click to enlargeRockfall above the Thinia borehole: click to enlargeThe new geological work involved the drilling of a 122 metre (400 foot) borehole at the southern end of the isthmus between Kefallinia and Paliki, to see whether the drill-bit would encounter solid limestone bedrock or loose rockfall and landslide material. The borehole penetrated to well below sea level and as the theory predicted, no solid limestone bedrock was encountered. Professor John Underhill comments:


"We drilled down to a depth of 122 metres, which is almost 15 metres below today’s sea level, and we didn’t meet any solid limestone strata at all. Although this is only a first step in testing whether or not this whole isthmus was once under the sea, it is a very encouraging confirmation of our geological diagnosis.”


John Underhill and Melis Antoniou: click to enlargeJohn Underhill (nearest) and Constantine Perissoratis: click to enlargeClick here for the full Press Release (PDF)


Click here for the Detailed Results (PDF)


Channel 4 News science correspondent Julian Rush filmed the drilling operation and the resulting 8-minute news film was broadcast on UK Channel 4 at 19:43 GMT. Other TV channels wishing to license this film footage for transmission on their own national networks are invited to contact Fiona Railton.


Click here to watch today's Channel 4 News film on YouTube


Click here for subsequent Press coverage