* * * Professor John Underhill, leading member of the Odysseus Unbound team, receives top geology award * * *
Where is the Ithaca described in such detail in Homer’s Odyssey? The mystery has baffled scholars for over two millennia because Homer’s descriptions bear little resemblance to the modern island called Ithaki, one of the Ionian Islands off the coast of western Greece. Homer himself is thought to have lived far away in Asia Minor (western Turkey) several hundred years after the events of the Odyssey, so most experts think that he based his poem on stories he had heard of distant Ithaki. The geographical mismatch in his poems perhaps reflected his lack of familiarity with the Ionian Islands, together with the fact that he was composing a poem rather than a travel guide.
But in 2003 a radical alternative was proposed. What if Homer has been right all along? What if this mismatch has occurred not because of geographical errors by the poet, but because of geological changes in the landscape? Could something unprecedented have altered the layout of these islands since the time of the Trojan War around 1200 BC? Since 2003 an interdisciplinary project team of geologists, classicists and archaeologists has been testing this hypothesis and the results that have emerged are astonishing. We have been able to reconstruct the former layout of these islands and it provides a compelling solution to the long-established enigma of the location of Homer’s Ithaca.
On this website you can learn more about this extraordinary discovery. You can find out how the breakthrough was made and hear about the book that has been written to describe it: Odysseus Unbound: The Search for Homer’s Ithaca. You can read the latest news about the project since the book went to press and the technology that is being used to unravel this detective trail of literary, geological and archaeological clues. If you are a geologist or an archaeologist who would like to help us, a company with expertise that could assist in this remarkable journey of discovery, or a reader who would like to join our news list, the Contact page explains how to get in touch.
Odysseus' island is no longer a fantasy. Over a century after Schliemann uncovered Troy, this breakthrough will revolutionise our understanding of Homer’s texts and our cultural ancestors in Bronze Age Greece.