Odysseus Unbound - The Search for Homer’s Ithaca


Drilling a test borehole, Oct 2006The following programme of research is based on the plan set out in the final chapter of Odysseus Unbound:

Phase A


Initial research to demonstrate the strength of this proposal (resulting in the publication of Odysseus Unbound)

Phase A is documented in the book and it has enabled us to identify candidate locations matching the landscape that is described in the Odyssey. In particular, it has enabled the surface geology of "Strabo's Channel" to be mapped with considerable precision. As a result of this work, conducted by Professor John Underhill in conjunction with Greece's IGME geological institute, it is now possible to indicate a specific course for the proposed buried channel around 3,000 years ago. The challenge for Phase B is therefore to test this proposal scientifically.

Phase B


Deploy extensive series of land, sea and airborne geoscientific techniques to investigate the underlying geology of the Thinia valley, and other relevant areas. Following a helicopter-mounted electromagnetic survey, ground-based resistivity and seismic refraction surveys, gravity surveys, and shallow marine seismic reflection surveys, a programme of land-based shallow (less than 105 metres in depth) drilling and rock coring using a small mobile rig is scheduled between 2010-2012, together with a shallow marine drilling programme, subject to timely permit approvals. Following extensive scientific analysis, the research findings will be presented in 2015.

Joint seismic survey with IGMEPhase B initially involved a marine seismic survey of the bays to the north and south of Strabo's Channel, gravity-based measurements of its cross-section, a hydrological pilot survey of the surrounding area via resistivity readings and ground penetrating radar, detailed geological and geomorphological field mapping of the expected course of the channel, and the drilling of a 122 metre (400 foot) test borehole near its diagnosed southern exit. The results supported the proposition that Paliki was formerly a separate island, setting up the need for further work to thoroughly test the hypothesis and reach a firm conclusion. Reports of this work are presented at the website News and Results pages.

Measurements for gravity surveyThe subsequent phase of work in Phase B focused on a more extensive examination of other sections of the channel through the acquisition and interpretation of a land-based seismic survey, calibrated by further boreholes in which continuous rock cores were acquired. This drilling program was informed by the results of the earlier geophysical studies and geological field mapping and the locations were selected on the basis of their relevance for the theory being tested. The equipment selected enabled continuous rock-cores to be obtained at multiple drilling locations, mainly in the Thinia valley. The cores afford the opportunity for an extensive calibration of the subterranean geology in the Thinia valley and provide a new-found basis for understanding the age, nature and post-depositional deformation history of the area.

Phase C

2016 onwards

Near Surface Geophysical survey and possible excavation (subject to the outcome of Phase B, the involvement of professional archaeologists and the granting of Greek archaeological permits)

The project's research goals include delivering practical benefit to the islanders of Kefallinia wherever this is possible, particularly in areas such as the availability of reliable local fresh water supplies. It is also hoped that further research into the historical regularity, intensity and impact of earthquakes in the Ionian Islands over the last few thousand years will enable the Greek authorities to take this information into account as a part of their existing natural hazards awareness and damage limitation initiatives.