Odysseus Unbound - The Search for Homer’s Ithaca

Results 2008

Sep 1 2008

Testing classical enigmas - Geoscientist

Detailed results and photographs from the first year of sponsorship by Fugro of the Odysseus Unbound project are released today and published in Geoscientist, the monthly journal of the Geological Society of London. A carefully designed combination of land, sea and airborne techniques has provided a wealth of new data about the Thinia isthmus on the Greek island of Kefalonia that separates its western peninsula from the rest of the island. The new research shows that this 6 kilometre long and up to 2 kilometre wide isthmus contains no solid limestone bedrock down to at least 90 metres below today’s surface. The fill is loose material, some of which has originated through catastrophic rockfall from the earthquake-prone mountain range to the east, with the rest consisting of softer marl rock.

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June 27 2008

The Identity of Ancient Ithaca: A Response

Robert Bittlestone

Reproduced with the kind permission of the Editor

"Professor Luce refers to a ‘massive and shattering disproof’ of our hypothesis concerning the identity of ancient Ithaca (CA News 37) but unfortunately he has based his conclusion on a document that has no bearing on the central geological issue. In CA News 35 I explained that Professor John Underhill is currently investigating three alternative explanations for the derivation of the Thinia isthmus that separates the Paliki western peninsula from the rest of Kefalonia:

  1. Around 1200 BC the terrain at the isthmus was well above sea level, as it is today;
  2. There was a thin strand of connecting terrain, such as between Lefkas and the mainland;
  3. There was no terrain at that time above sea level and so Paliki was a ‘sea-girt’ island.

Professor Luce states that a geological study conducted by a research team from Athens University at the prompting of the Association of Ithakans Worldwide has already identified (a) as the correct answer. He has kindly provided us with a copy of this unpublished document which purports to disprove the possibility currently being tested by John Underhill and his team that either (b) or (c) may instead apply. However this document describes only a surface study, and as John Underhill has explained in his published work, the hypothesis that Paliki was a free-standing island as recently as 2000-3000 years ago cannot be established or disproved by a surface survey alone. It requires instead the use of geophysical and geological techniques (gravity surveying, seismic acquisition, resistivity analysis and electromagnetic methods) which in combination can diagnose the buried terrain down to sea level and below. "

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Jan 21 2008

How did Homer describe Ithaca? The meaning of Odyssey 9.19-26

Professor James Diggle

I am Odysseus, Laertes' son, world-famed
For stratagems: my name has reached the heavens.
Bright Ithaca is my home: it has a mountain,
Leaf-quivering Neriton, far visible.
Around are many islands, close to each other,
Doulichion and Same and wooded Zacynthos.
Ithaca itself lies low, furthest to sea
Towards dusk; the rest, apart, face dawn and sun.
Odyssey 9.19-26

These lines from the Odyssey have created confusion over the centuries, often as a result of mistranslation. The following text is based on Appendix 1 Section G of Odysseus Unbound: The Search for Homer’s Ithaca, with an additional discussion of the meaning of the word panhupertate.

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