Odysseus Unbound - The Search for Homer’s Ithaca

Results 2007

Feb 5 2007

Ithaca theory gains support - Geoscientist

Results of an offshore seismic survey and the first borehole to test the hypothesis that the Paliki peninsula of the Greek island of Kefallinia was once Homer’s Ithaca lend weight to the theory. Ted Nield reports.

The theory that the home of Odysseus, which has never been satisfactorily identified, was in fact a part of the modern island of Kefallinia that was once an island in its own right (Geoscientist 16, 9 p4 et seq.) has received support from the first test borehole. The theory, advanced by British businessman Robert Bittlestone (author of Odysseus Unbound - The Search for Homer’s Ithaca - Cambridge University Press), with Cambridge University classicist, Professor James Diggle and Edinburgh University geologist, Professor John Underhill, predicts that the peninsula of Paliki was once separated from the rest of Kefallinia by a narrow, probably tidal channel that subsequently became blocked by landslips. This theory solves a number of disagreements between modern geography and Homer’s text - inconsistencies not satisfied by the assumption that Bronze Age Ithaca and the modern island of Ithaki (to the east of Kefallinia) were one and the same island.

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Jan 9 2007

Even closer to finding Ithaca. By Managing Editor Megan Sever

"Researchers are several steps closer to finding Homer’s Ithaca, thanks to new results released today from geologic tests that support the hypothesis that the ancient kingdom of Ithaca may in fact be on western Kefalonia, not the modern-day Greek island of Ithaki, as has been suggested for several centuries, and is reported this month in Geotimes.

The hypothesis — put forth by businessman Robert Bittlestone, classicist James Diggle and geologist John Underhill in their 2005 book Odysseus Unbound — suggests that a channel once separated Kefalonia from its western peninsula, called Paliki, creating two separate islands. Paliki is Ithaca, as described in the Bronze Age 3,200 years ago, according to the hypothesis."

Click here for: the rest of this news article; feature article Finding Ithaca; AGI press release.

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.

In search of Odysseus's Ithaca

By Julian Rush, Channel 4 News

“It's one of the founding stories of Western civilisation - the epic journey home to Ithaca by Odysseus following his victory in the Trojan War. It's long been argued whether Homer’s tale is pure myth. Now British businessman Robert Bittlestone has set out to prove that the Greek hero's homeland does exist. But his controversial hunch about Ithaca's actual location would only make sense by showing the region had been transformed, possibly by a massive earthquake. So in October, he set out to prove his theory by drilling a borehole on the Greek island of Kefalonia - with Channel Four News having exclusive access to the project. Our Science Correspondent Julian Rush reports on how the evidence found there may fundamentally change our view of the Ancient World.”

Click here to watch the Channel 4 News film (9min 13sec YouTube)