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Sleuths close in on Odysseus home January 14, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Archaeology Greece.

British history sleuths say they have uncovered new geological evidence to solve one of the great riddles of ancient Greece, pinpointing the ancient island of Ithaca, home of Homer’s legendary hero Odysseus.

“We are one step closer to solving the age-old mystery,” said management consultant Robert Bittlestone who has worked with professors of classics and geology to piece together an intriguing archaeological jigsaw puzzle.

Finding Ithaca could rival the discovery of ancient Troy on the Turkish coast in the 1870s. No one can be certain whether Odysseus or his city really existed. But the discovery of the ruins of Troy, where Odysseus and other legendary Greek heroes did battle, has led scholars to believe there is more to Homer’s tales than just legend.

Until now, the kingdom of Ithaca was thought to have been on the Ionian island of Ithaki. But Bittlestone’s team say they believe it is on Paliki, a peninsula on the island of Kefalonia, west of Ithaki.

Bittlestone, who became intrigued by the riddle while on holiday in Greece, enlisted the help of Cambridge classicist James Diggle and Edinburgh geologist John Underhill to drill a 122 meter (400 ft) bore hole on the isthmus joining Paliki to the rest of Kefalonia. It met with no solid limestone bedrock, suggesting Paliki could once have been an island in itself.

The team say rockfalls and landslides triggered by earthquakes may have filled in an ancient sea channel. Bittlestone said further tests would have to be made along the length of the isthmus to prove their island theory.

“There is every evidence we are on the right track,” he said. “For thousands of years people thought Homer was wrong in how he described the location of Ithaca. I believe Homer was right but we didn’t see it because the landscape has changed.”

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