Feb 13 2012

Onshore drilling in Kefalonia - 2011 Interim Research Summary

During 2011, the project sponsors Fugro acting upon the advice of Professor Underhill have performed land-based shallow (less than 100m) drilling using a small mobile rig. That drilling program has enabled continuous rock-cores to be obtained at a number of locations in Kefalonia, mainly in the Thinia valley. The core samples were transported to Fugro’s geospecialist labs in North Wales in late 2011 and are currently being logged, sampled and analysed.

Whilst it will take further time for the overall results to emerge, some of the preliminary indications are of particular interest, as follows:

* Borehole cores from the Thinia valley indicate that some very large in-situ rock segments of Cretaceous and Paleogene age period overlay (i.e. have been thrust on top of) rock segments of the younger Plio-Pleistocene period. This confirms that the pre-existing sidewalls of the Thinia valley have themselves been translated westward as a result of relatively recent co-seismic activity. This result represents a “tectonic” disruption of the Thinia valley.

* On the south-west flank of the Thinia valley in an area called Katachori, there is clear evidence that a major rockfall has originated from the eastern slopes of the valley, travelled across the valley floor and has come to rest (onlap) upon the upwards-sloping western hillside, infilling the valley itself in the process. This can be confirmed on site and via helicopter-based LIDAR scans, and it is also visible via Google Earth imagery.

* The tail end of the rockfall has covered some pre-existing walls which end abruptly at the debris and their continuity can be identified underneath it. Upthrust combined with rockfall and valley fill set up a barrier for drainage that caused an ancient lake to form subsequently above it. The lake bed has now silted up and forms a low-agricultural plain in the centre of the valley.

* Elsewhere in Thinia the drill-core samples indicate that rockfall debris covers former marine beach deposits (e.g. at Zola on the north-western end of the valley) and work is ongoing to determine the age of the buried sediments.

" Marine deposits have already been discovered at some locations along the Thinia isthmus, and at present the aerial tests, the land-based observations and the results of the core sampling to date support the tectonic infill proposal. If a tectonic infill can be demonstrated then this will also indicate that the former coastline was not a long and narrow marine channel, but may have been a significantly wider and more naturally shaped marine seaway that resembled the existing bays to the north and south.

Download full text of Interim Research Summary

For geological inquiries:

Professor John Underhill

President - European Association of Geoscientists & Engineers (EAGE)

Chair of Stratigraphy & Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (FRSE)

Work Address & Contact Details: Grant Institute of Earth Science, School of Geosciences, The University of Edinburgh, The King's Buildings, West Mains Road, Edinburgh, EH9 3JW, Scotland, U.K. Telephone: 0131-650-8518 (direct line) Telephone: 0131-650-1000 (switchboard) Fax Number: 0131-668-3184 e-mail address:


Dec 4 2010

Coring for Ithaca: Geoscientist article describes drilling progress

Adler deWind reports from the Greek island of Kefalonia on progress towards proving - or disproving - the theory that the Paliki Peninsula was once separated from the main island and was the true geographical location of Homer’s Ithaca.

Despite a clear reference in Homer to “rocky Ithaca” being the westernmost, low-lying Ionian Island, controversy has long surrounded the location of Odysseus’s Homeland.

Three years after their initial support of the geoscientific investigation and work program into testing whether the western peninsula of Kefalonia (Paliki) could have been that free-standing island three millennia ago (Fig.1), geotechnical company Fugro are continuing their support of the project by drilling and coring boreholes in 15 locations.

If successful, the coring program has the potential to settle the centuries-old classical Greek dispute.

Download published article

Geoscientist website


Oct 7 2010

New book from Odysseus Unbound author

A new book from Odysseus Unbound author Robert Bittlestone is to be published by Cambridge University Press on October 7 2010. Entitled Financial Management for Business: Cracking the Hidden Code, the book represents a breakthrough approach to business education, described by CUP as follows:

"Set against the gripping story of Luca Pacioli’s research into the ‘Hidden Code’ of bookkeeping that transformed medieval business and remains at the heart of every modern enterprise, the book presents an innovative step-by-step model that will transform your understanding of financial management. Key concepts such as profit and loss, cash flow and balance sheets are brought to life with Internet-based simulations that show how cash actually flows around the business. The book also helps to explain how decisions such as pricing and advertising affect the bottom line and why financial disasters happen, such as the 2008 international banking crisis."

Robert Bittlestone explains why he has written Financial Management for Business: Cracking the Hidden Code five years after the publication of Odysseus Unbound: The Search for Homer's Ithaca:

"Business financial management represents my long-term career experience and in this book I hope to explain to students and practitioners world-wide why the work of Luca Pacioli, one of finance's earliest researchers, is of great value to us in today's business world. I should add that my interest in Homer's Ithaca remains undiminished and I await with great interest the results of John Underhill's geological research project with Fugro, which has embarked on a major new phase in Kefalonia this autumn."

Click here for further details of the new book

There will be a book launch and Press reception in London on October 11. Journalists and others wishing to attend (subject to availability) should contact Anne Rouse.


Oct 01 2010

Major new geological research phase of drilling and coring in Kefalonia

In conjunction with a very significant commitment of exploration technology by project sponsors Fugro, Professor John Underhill of Edinburgh University is leading a major new phase of the geological research on Kefalonia this autumn.

The primary focus is to test the nature of the former landscape in the area marked 'Strabo's Channel' in the Thinia Valley (click on the adjacent map, on which the present island names are marked in white and their proposed Homeric equivalents in yellow).

Land-based drilling equipment is currently being deployed to drill a number of boreholes. These will be cored and sampled along the length of the valley to enable the subsurface sediments in this area to be understood.

Commenting on the geological challenges involved, John Underhill said:

"Understanding the subsurface geology is crucial to determining whether Strabo's Channel existed as a former continuous marine channel that connected the Gulf of Livadi to the south with the Ormos Agias Kiriakis to the north."

"We are now undertaking an important new phase in the project. Having obtained an excellent preliminary diagnosis of what lies beneath the Thinia Valley through the use and analysis of geophysical methods (e.g. resistivity, gravity, electromagnetics and seismic reflection), we now intend to calibrate those results through a substantial campaign of drilling and coring of the sediments below the valley."

"We hope that the cores obtained during the next three months will contain material that will permit dating of the sediments by analysing their fossil content and by using radiocarbon age dating techniques. The results will enable us to evaluate the hypothesis that Paliki was a free-standing island separated from the main body of Kefalonia 2,000-3,000 years ago, as Strabo describes in his Geography and as Homer suggests in the Odyssey."

The results of this new drilling phase will be analysed and documented during 2011 and it is expected that a definitive account of the formation of this valley will be published later next year.



Mar 04 2010

Locating Ithaca: Research Priorities for 2010

With sponsorship from Fugro, consultant Robert Bittlestone, together with John Underhill, Professor of Stratigraphy at the University of Edinburgh, and James Diggle, Professor of Classics at Cambridge, formed the ‘Odysseus Unbound’ organisation, in an attempt to uncover the truth about the location of the historic island kingdom of Homer’s hero.

Geological mapping reveals that most of Thinia’s surface consists of loose rockfall material brought down by frequent earthquakes, some occurring within living memory.

Robert Bittlestone poses the key question: “Despite this clear evidence of extensive, ancient and modern landslips, can we be sure that there is not a bridge of solid bedrock underneath, joining the Paliki peninsula to the rest of the island, somewhere above sea level? If there is, then this could represent a serious objection to the proposition that Paliki is ancient Ithaca”.

To test for the existence of such a rock bridge, Fugro Airborne Surveys flew a helicopter, equipped with electromagnetic instruments, to map the resistivity and magnetic signature of the entire Thinia isthmus. If the yellow-coloured areas, mainly depicting loose rockfall material with low resistivity, are removed from the image, there is a very clear suggestion that there was formerly an open marine channel separating the Paliki peninsula from the rest of Cephalonia - an inlet narrowing towards its Southern end.

Download published article

Full length news update

View Fugro Cross-Section Issue 14


Jul 10 2009

Greek translation of latest Geoscientist article

We are pleased to announce the availability of a Greek translation of the recent Geoscientist article Testing Classical Enigmas by Professor John Underhill of the University of Edinburgh. It has been translated from the magazine Geoscientist Vol. 9 No. 18 (September 2008) with the kind permission of the publisher Dr.Ted Nield. Geoscientist magazine is the monthly color magazine of the Geological Society of London.

The Greek translation was effected by Titika Faraklou. Nikos Lykakis of the University of Edinburgh was the scientific proof-reader. Their contribution is gratefully recognised.

Right-click to download Greek translation (high resolution; low resolution)

For the English version, scroll down to Sep 1 2008


Jul 1 2009

Relocating Odysseus' homeland

John Underhill, Nature Geoscience July 2009

Homer's Ithaca had been viewed as a work of poetic licence and imprecise geography. However, as recent research shows, the island's form may have been disguised over the past two millennia by catastrophic rockfalls, co-seismic uplift events and relative sea-level change.


Nature Geoscience website

Full text of article (PDF)


Mar 31 2009

Geophysics in the Search for Homer’s Ithaca

Greg Hodges, Fugro Airborne Surveys; David Kilcoyne, Fugro-Aperio; Rod Eddies, Fugro-Aperio; John Underhill, University of Edinburgh

The Odysseus Unbound project includes analysis of the Paliki peninsula for supporting evidence that it was once the island of Ithaca, home of Odysseus. Geophysical surveys including airborne EM (magnetometry, conductivity and LIDAR), marine seismic surveys (sidescan sonar, multibeam and sub-bottom profiling) and ground-based techniques (resistivity, magnetometry, gravity and seismic refraction) are being used to read the geological history of this island over the last 3200 years.

This presentation was delivered as a Keynote Session for SAGEEP, the Symposium on the Application of Geophysics to Environmental and Engineering Problems, organised by the Environmental and Engineering Geophysical Society (EEGS) at Fort Worth, Texas.

Click here for the conference paper (3 Mb PDF)


Jan 12 2009

How far was Eumaios’ Pigfarm from Odysseus’ Palace?

Robert Bittlestone, REVUE DES ETUDES ANCIENNES 110 (2008)

Reproduced with the kind permission of the Editor


"Is the Ithaca of Homer’s Odyssey based on a real or imaginary island? Although the poet’s description (at 9.19-26) has long appeared enigmatic, recent research on the Paliki peninsula of Kefalonia now points towards a real location. This opens up the tantalising possibility that specific sites in the poem such as Eumaios’ Pigfarm may also have existed in the Late Bronze Age, emphasising the importance of a precise understanding of their local geography. "

This article considers the question posed by Matthias Steinhart, reviewing Odysseus Unbound: The Search for Homer’s Ithaca in the Revue des Études Anciennes 109 (2007) no. 1, pp 322-324

If it is 1.5 km to go from Eumaios’ Pigfarm to Odysseus’ Palace, how would it be possible for Odysseus to say that the city – which is nearby the Palace – is far away and for Eumaios – departing after breakfast and coming home in the evening without any longer stay – to need the whole day for his trip?

Full text of article.


Nov 1 2008

Missed John Underhill's Geology Society lecture?

Click here to watch it online

Where was Odysseus' homeland? Professor John Underhill (University of Edinburgh) has been leading the geological, geophysical and geomorphological tests of the theory that the Paliki peninsula in western Kefalonia might have been a free-standing island as recently as 3,000 years ago. Confirmation of that hypothesis would have dramatic ramifications for our understanding of Homeric Greece.


You can also apply for a ticket to the repeat event on Feb 5 2009


Sep 1 2008

Geophysical surveys support quest for Homer’s Ithaca

  • Latest geoscientific technologies are used to investigate Europe’s earliest enigma
  • Land, sea and airborne methods penetrate deep below surface of the key valley
  • Helicopter-based scan reveals no limestone bedrock for 90 metres underground
  • Marine tests pinpoint outflow of ancient channel identified by geographer Strabo
  • Public lecture to be held at the Geological Society, London on October 2 2008
  • UK Channel 4 TV News bulletin broadcast on Saturday September 6 at 18:55

London and The Hague, September 1 2008. 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.

2,000 years ago the Greek geographer Strabo wrote of Kefalonia “Where the island is narrowest it forms an isthmus so low-lying that it is often submerged from sea to sea”. This new evidence strengthens the case that Strabo’s description was correct at the time and that the western peninsula of Kefalonia, today called Paliki, was often separated from the rest of Kefalonia by the sea at the Thinia isthmus.

The latest results also lend support to the proposal put forward by Robert Bittlestone in 2003 and described in the Cambridge University Press book Odysseus Unbound: The Search for Homer’s Ithaca, that Homer’s description of Ithaca in the Odyssey as the furthest out to sea and most western of the Ionian Islands referred to today’s peninsula of Paliki, at that time a separate island cut off by ‘Strabo’s Channel’.

In March 2007 the global geotechnical, survey and geoscientific service company FUGRO announced its sponsorship of the Odysseus Unbound project. This provides the project team with industry-scale geoscientific resources and includes the sponsorship of a PhD candidate at the University of Edinburgh as part of the Natural Environment Research Council CASE scheme.

Geoscience leader Professor John Underhill of the University of Edinburgh comments on the latest results from this cooperation: “Fugro’s specialist air, sea and land-based divisions from around the world have worked together to collect an unprecedented amount of new data in a quest to image the sub-surface beneath the Thinia isthmus. The data collection was very successful and the interpretation of the results has now provided us with some remarkable new evidence and significant new geoscientific insights for the theory being tested."

Professor James Diggle of Cambridge University, who leads the classical research side of the Odysseus Unbound project, comments on the implications of these new findings for our understanding of Strabo’s Geography and Homer's Odyssey: “If we can demonstrate the historical existence of ‘Strabo’s Channel’ it will be impossible to resist the conclusion that Paliki was Homer’s Ithaca - for Paliki, as a separate island, is the only candidate that satisfies every one of Homer's geographical criteria. So we are on the way to demonstrating that Homer’s geography was no less reliable than Strabo’s, and that the landscape of Paliki was the true location of Homer’s Odyssey.”

The UK Channel 4 TV News programme broadcast a 5 minute bulletin about the research in Kefalonia on Saturday 6 September at 18:55. Click below for a link to the broadcast.


Full text of this Research Update

Full text of "Testing Classical Enigmas" [ low-resolution PDF] [high-resolution PDF]

London lectures: October 2 (John Underhill), October 6 (Robert Bittlestone)

Watch the Channel 4 TV news broadcast



June 24 2008

ECLIPSE as it would have been seen from mountains on Paliki, a peninsula in the Ionian Islands that may have been the setting for the Odyssey. Courtesy of Marcelo Magnasco.

Is an eclipse described in the Odyssey?

Scientific American

“Researchers say that references to planets and constellations in the Odyssey describe a solar eclipse that occurred in 1178 B.C., nearly three centuries before Homer is believed to have written the story. If correct, the finding would suggest that the ancient poet had a surprisingly detailed knowledge of astronomy. ”


Rest of this article

Research Paper and Supporting Information



June 18 2008

Aerial view of “Strabo’s Channel” (Thinia isthmus, Kefalonia). Much of the surface along the centre of the valley consists of loose rockfall and landslip material.

Successful first year’s Fugro sponsorship of the “Odysseus Unbound” project

  • Latest technology is used to investigate Europe’s earliest enigma
  • Land, sea and airborne methods accurately image sub-surface beneath key valley
  • Geological update to appear in September 2008 issue of Geoscientist magazine
  • Public lecture to be held at the Geological Society, London on October 2 2008

London and The Hague, June 18 2008. The results of the first year of sponsorship by Fugro of the Odysseus Unbound project are to be released in September 2008 and will be described in the September issue of 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 ‘Strabo’s Channel’, the isthmus described 2,000 years ago by the great geographer as being “so low-lying that it is often submerged from sea to sea”.

Click here for the full text of this Research Update (PDF)

Details of the London lecture on October 2

Fugro's announcement


Mar 11-15 2008

Kefalonia and Athens visit triggers major interest in Greek edition of Odysseus Unbound


From March 11-15 James Diggle and Robert Bittlestone presented the Greek translation of Odysseus Unbound to audiences in Kefalonia and Athens, alongside film footage of the current geological research. The events were arranged and coordinated by the publisher Petros Stathatos, Chief Executive of Ekdoseis Polytropon. Newspapers and TV and radio stations in Athens and on the island provided Press coverage and interviews with the authors. Lively audiences at each event debated this historic proposal prior to a reception and book-signing.


Click here for photographs of the events

Click here for Press coverage



Jan 4 2008

Publication of the Greek edition of Odysseus Unbound: The Search for Homer's Ithaca

  • Homer described Ithaca as ‘furthest west’ but where is Odysseus’ island now?
  • Latest scientific techniques are used to investigate Europe’s earliest enigma
  • New Preface and Sequel update the book with key developments since 2005
  • Website research findings now provided in Greek as well as English
  • Authors to visit Athens and Kefalonia to present the latest findings in person

Athens, January 4 2008. The award-winning best-seller Odysseus Unbound: The Search for Homer's Ithaca is now available in Greek. First published by Cambridge University Press in October 2005, the book has been updated with the latest developments from the island of Kefalonia and is published in Athens by Ekdoseis Polytropon.

Since September 2007 expert teams from FUGRO have been conducting land, sea and air-based surveys of the area with the objective of probing deep into the ground to search for a buried marine seaway. An unprecedented array of gravity, seismic, marine and helicopter-based electromagnetic techniques are being used to test the theory by performing a “whole body scan” of this 6 kilometre long, 2 kilometre wide isthmus.

The Odysseus Unbound website has been released in Greek, reporting the latest news and events from the project. A new Preface and Sequel have been added to the book, presenting the key geological and classical developments since 2005.

The full text of this Press Release is available here: English or Greek

Read this week's VIMagazino interview: English or Greek

Click here for information about the Research programme and the scientific Results to date, or for TV News coverage.

Greek edition: Rony Ganiari, tel: +30 210 3616 343, e-mail:

Author interviews: Anne Stephenson,


Oct 15 2007

Fugro RESOLVE airborne electromagnetic survey systemFugro RESOLVE airborne electromagnetic survey systemInternational geoscientific teams converge on Kefalonia

A team of UK geological engineers from Fugro is now working on Kefalonia in conjunction with an Edinburgh PhD programme under the supervision of Professor John Underhill. They are performing land-based seismic, gravity and resistivity tests of terrain mainly in the Thinia district that separates the Paliki peninsula from the rest of Kefalonia.

An Italian marine geoscientific team from Fugro has commenced a detailed submarine mapping of the bays to the north and south of the Thinia valley, using the latest high resolution sonar equipment.

Subject to the grant of aviation permits, it is anticipated that a Canadian Fugro team will subsequently perform a helicopter-based survey of the northern Paliki region, using the 'RESOLVE' advanced electromagnetic system shown in the photograph below.

The data from these surveys will be analysed in the months ahead with the aim of building a 3D visualisation of the geology of this area. It is anticipated that the results of this research will be published during 2008.

On Thursday October 18 at 19:00 a public briefing about the geological research programme will be delivered by Professor John Underhill and Robert Bittlestone in the Lixouri Theatre, at the invitation of the Mayor of Paliki.

Right-click to download Research Description (English and Greek). Right-click to download Briefing Poster.

To listen to Hellenic Public Radio's interview about the research (broadcast on October 11), click here.

For details of the next London lecture (October 29), click here.


Mar 21 2007

Fugro RESOLVE airborne electromagnetic survey systemFUGRO teams up with Odysseus Unbound project in the search for Homer’s Ithaca

  • Global geoscientific leader brings industry-scale resources to the quest
  • Airborne, land and marine techniques to diagnose suspected hidden channel
  • Latest geophysical and survey techniques to tackle earliest classical conundrum
  • Greece’s national geological institute IGME to facilitate the research
  • Ionian Islands to benefit from research into groundwater and earthquakes
  • Edinburgh PhD candidate to be sponsored jointly with Britain’s NERC
  • Unique collaboration between industry, academia and government

London, The Hague and Athens, March 21 2007. A major research partnership was announced today between FUGRO (provider of geotechnical, survey and geoscience services) and the authors of Odysseus Unbound: The Search for Homer’s Ithaca (Robert Bittlestone, Professor James Diggle and Professor John Underhill), facilitated by IGME (Greece’s geological institute).

The location of the island of Ithaca that is described in Homer’s Odyssey has been an enigma for nearly 3,000 years, but the radical new solution proposed by the authors in late 2005 is looking increasingly plausible as preliminary scientific findings appear to support the hypothesis. FUGRO’s sponsorship will now bring industry-scale geophysical techniques to the project, enabling the team to conduct a ‘full body scan’ of the 6-kilometre long isthmus on the Greek island of Kefallinia that is believed to contain a buried ancient marine connection.

FUGRO is a world leader in the offshore, onshore and airborne collection and interpretation of data about the earth’s surface and the soil and rocks beneath. The company employs about 10,000 staff in over 50 countries. FUGRO Chief Executive Klaas Wester comments:

“The technical challenge presented by the project calls for a broad range of investigative solutions. This is an opportunity for FUGRO to showcase many of the specialised geophysical, geotechnical and survey services that we offer, while at the same time benefiting the local community and supporting research into our areas of expertise. We are very pleased to have the opportunity to contribute our capabilities to this extraordinary project.”

Click here for the full press release (PDF)

Click here for FUGRO's announcement


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.

Right-click here to download the full article: Medium resolution (15 Mb); Low resolution (3.9 Mb)


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. Other TV channels wishing to license this film footage for transmission on their own national networks are invited to contact Fiona Railton. A small-screen version of the film is now available on the Channel 4 website.


Click here to watch today's Channel 4 News film (8 minutes: alternative direct link here or watch it on YouTube)


Click here to watch Channel 4's previous news film (4 minutes - September 2005)


Click here for subsequent Press coverage


Jan 7 2007

Compelling new evidence and film about Homer's Ithaca to be released on Tuesday January 9


Drilling rig, Oct 9: click to enlargeOn Tuesday January 9 2007 at 20:00 GMT there will be a significant announcement about the results of new geological tests in Kefallinia aimed at identifying the island of Ithaca, the homeland of Odysseus that is described in Homer's Odyssey. These tests have been conducted under Professor John Underhill's supervision in conjunction with Greece's geological institute IGME. The announcement will be preceded by a short film about the tests on UK Channel 4 TV News.


A dramatic new theory about the location of Homer’s Ithaca was 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 the western peninsula of Kefallinia, not the Greek island that is today called Ithaki.


John Underhill, Robert Bittlestone, James Diggle on the Queens' College Bridge: click to enlargeIf it can be proved that this peninsula was a separate island at the time of the Trojan War c. 1200 BC then they will have found the answer to a historical enigma that has defied numerous attempts at solution for over 2,500 years. This will also pave the way for a refocussed search for the lost city and palace of Odysseus.


In October 2006 they drilled a 122 metre (400 foot) borehole at the neck of the peninsula in Kefallinia to test the theory. The material from the borehole has now been analysed and its results, together with the outcome of a battery of other onshore and offshore tests, will be published at 20:00 GMT on Tuesday January 9 at


Channel 4 News science correspondent Julian Rush filmed the drilling operation and the resulting 10-minute news film will be broadcast on UK Channel 4 between 19:00 and 20:00 GMT on Tuesday January 9. Other TV channels wishing to license this film footage for transmission on their own national networks are invited to contact Fiona Railton. A small-screen version of the film will be made available on the Channel 4 website shortly afterwards. For background to the project, click here to watch Channel 4's previous news film.


An embargoed Press Release and Detailed Results briefing are now available to accredited news journalists at the Press Resources section.



Nov 16 2006

Leading US classical scholars support Odysseus Unbound

James Holoka, Professor of Classics and Ancient History, Eastern Michigan University: "It is not possible in a short review to convey how methodically both textual and topographic evidence are harmonized in Bittlestone’s riveting argument. His case for equating Paliki with Ithaca is breathtakingly cogent. Site after site is shown to jibe with the details of Homer’s narrative."

Peter Green, Dougherty Centennial Professor Emeritus of Classics at the University of Texas at Austin and Adjunct Professor at the University of Iowa: "Bittlestone's theory is fundamentally simple, and starts, as did those of Schliemann, from the firm assumption that Homer was telling the truth... This, in a nutshell, is his solution to the "Ithaca Question," and it is almost certainly correct...This confirmation of literary inference by the heavy weapons of modern science and technology is a major triumph."

For these full reviews, click on the logos above. For other reviews, click here.


Oct 9 2006

Drilling rig, Oct 9: click to enlarge

100m test borehole being drilled on Cephalonia


Permission has been received from the Greek authorities to drill a test borehole on Cephalonia near the southern exit of the possible route of Strabo's Channel. The altitude of the borehole site is over 100 metres above the sea and it will be drilled down to sea level and beyond. The terrain at the surface of the test site consists of loose rockfall material that has been derived from the mountains to the east. The objective of this test is to determine whether this material continues down to sea level, or whether it is replaced by solid limestone bedrock or an intermediate sediment such as marl. The data from the borehole will be analysed in conjunction with other recent tests including gravity, seismic, resistivity and ground penetrating radar studies and it is expected that the results will be announced early in 2007. Further details and location maps are provided in John Underhill's Geoscientist article below. Click here for BBC press coverage.


Sep 1 2006

Geoscientist Sep 2006: Furthest towards dusk - the quest for Ithaca

Geoscientist magazine publishes new geological findings on Strabo's Channel


Geoscientist, the monthly colour news magazine of The Geological Society of London, has today published a major new scientific article by John Underhill entitled "Quest for Ithaca". The article documents the results of detailed investigations into the isthmus between the eastern land mass of Kefalonia and the western peninsula of Paliki. It describes the geological setting of the island and it includes an up-to-date account of the field-based geoscientific techniques used to test the proposal, both before and after the publication of Odysseus Unbound, up to July 2006. With the kind agreement of Geoscientist magazine, a copy of the published article is now provided on this website.


The Geological Society of London, founded in 1807, is the UK national society for geoscience and it is the largest national geoscience society in Europe. Geoscientist magazine is the main mouthpiece of the society and is distributed free to all Fellows, with a print run of 10,000 copies.


Because the valley floor today rises to c. 180m, it is clearly demanding to suggest that it might have been at sea level as recently as the Bronze Age (late Holocene). As a result, I anticipated that Bittlestone’s hypothesis would be easy to test - and disprove. However, rebuttal has not proved at all straightforward. None of the results of geological and geomorphological fieldwork performed so far rules out the hypothesis that a marine connection as described by Strabo could have existed at that time. Professor John Underhill, Geoscientist September 2006.


Odysseus Unbound presents a highly readable personal account of what can happen when an enthusiast with a compelling synthetic vision glimpses a solution no specialist has seen and uses his considerable resources of energy and curiosity to bring renowned experts like Professors Underhill (Geology, Edinburgh University) and Diggle (Classics, Cambridge University) to focus on solving a puzzle that has mystified scholars for centuries. Robert Bittlestone may one day emerge as Homeric studies' Alfred Wegener of the Internet age.” Dr Ted Nield, Editor, Geoscientist magazine.


Click here for the full article: Medium resolution (12 Mb); Low resolution (2.5 Mb)



Aug 12 2006

Argostoli after the earrthquake, courtesy Gerasimos Galanos/Odusseia. Click to enlarge.

53rd anniversary of the 1953 earthquake on Cephalonia


From Odysseus Unbound, Chapter 1: "At 09:24 GMT on Wednesday August 12th 1953 something happens to Cephalonia that is both unthinkable and unendurable...On that day an earthquake of magnitude 7.2 pushes this mass upwards by about 60 centimetres within the space of a few seconds and with the force of 63 million tons of high explosive...The effect of the magnitude 7.2 earthquake is literally catastrophic: it is as if a thermonuclear bomb were to be modified so that instead of exploding at a single point, its energy is radiated evenly from the surface of a huge blanket lying underneath the island." Click here to read on.



July 16 2006

Contract signed for Greek translation of Odysseus Unbound


Cambridge University Press has signed a contract for a Greek translation of Odysseus Unbound with Polytropon, a publishing business within the fast-growing Lyra group based in Athens. The translation is being carried out by Elias Toumasatos, Director of the Corgialenios Library in Argostoli, Kefallinia. It is expected that the book will be published mid-2007. The main publishing interest of Polytropon focuses on the fields of philosophy, sociology, history, political science, economics, classics, biology-bioethics and linguistics. The Director of Polytropon Publishing is Petros Stathatos. Click here for the announcement in Greek.



May 16 2006

US East Coast Tour Triggers Major Interest in Odysseus Unbound Findings


From May 16-19 a series of seminars about the project and author interviews took place in New York and Boston. The aim was to provide both Americans and Greek Americans with an update on developments since the book was published, and to open discussions regarding funding for Phases B and C. For further details, click on the links below:

Hellenic Public Radio interview

John Metaxas interview

National Herald interview

Tavern Club lecture



Mar 28 2006

Photograph by Yannos Lolos

'Palace of Ajax' found in Greece at Kanakia on island of Salamis

Greek archaeologists led by Professor Yannos Lolos say they have unearthed the remains of a 13th Century BC palace and city linked to the legendary warrior-king Ajax. In Homer's classic tale the Iliad, the Achaean hero Ajax the Great fought duels with Hector in the Trojan War...The city, named 'Kychreia' on an epigraph found on the Athens Acropolis that dates from the first century BC, is mentioned by the ancient geographer Strabo.


Iliad 2.557: "And Aias led from Salamis twelve ships, and stationed them where the battalions of the Athenians stood"


Iliad 2.631: "Odysseus led the gallant Cephallenians, from Ithaca...together with twelve red-cheeked ships"


Image by NASA World WindPhotograph by Robert BittlestonePhotograph by Robert BittlestoneFull text of press announcements: BBC, Times, Independent







Photograph by Robert BittlestonePhotograph by Robert BittlestonePhotograph by Robert BittlestoneSite photographs taken on April 12 2006: Click on them to enlarge








Mar 22 2006

Smithsonian Magazine publishes article and photographs from Paliki in April edition

Odyssey's End? The Search for Ancient Ithaca

A British researcher believes he has at last pinpointed the island to which Homer's wanderer returned

Kastelli, photographed by Jeffrey AaransonCelebrated writer Fergus Bordewich and award-winning photographer Jeffrey Aaronson visited Kefalonia with Robert Bittlestone in October 2005. "Half an hour after leaving the pig farm, we park in an olive grove and begin climbing Kastelli’s steep 830-foot-high slopes, through a dense carpet of prickly underbrush. The bells of unseen goats ring in our ears. We scramble over lichen-crusted terraces that might once have supported houses, and then, near the hillcrest, clamber over traces of a defensive wall and heaps of jagged stones...Here, perhaps, with “a shield of fourfold hide” and a plumed helmet on his “heroic head,” Odysseus set to his bloody work. As Homer puts it, “Ghastly screams rose up as men’s heads were smashed in, and the whole floor ran with blood.” In the end, corpses lay heaped in the dust “like fishes the fishermen have dragged out of the grey surf in the meshes of their net onto a curving beach, to lie in masses on the sand longing for the salt water till the bright sun ends their lives.” Bittlestone prowls the windswept summit, pointing out shards of ancient pottery—fragments of pots, wine jugs and oil jars, compacted amid generations of goat droppings and dust, the last traces of an ancient town and perhaps a palace." Click here to read the article




Mar 20 2006

History Channel broadcasts first film footage from Paliki


The History Channel's "Digging for the Truth" field archaeology program broadcast a documentary about Homer's Troy and Ithaca in the USA on March 20 and 21. The film is called "Troy: Of Gods and Warriors" and it includes the first footage of some of the sites identified in "Odysseus Unbound" on the island of Kefalonia. The legendary Josh Bernstein is the intrepid interviewer and the series is produced by an Emmy-award winning team from JWM Productions.


With the kind permission of The History Channel and JWM Productions, an extract of the Ithaca material will be posted on this website on March 28.



Now available - Watch the History Channel extract about Ithaca

First broadcast on Mar 20. Duration: 5 minutes.




Low resolution: right-click here to Save Target then play offline (15 Mb WMV file, use Windows Media player).





High resolution: right-click here to Save Target then play offline (37Mb MP4 file, use QuickTime player).




Josh Bernstein's web journal

Now available in our Reviews section - click here and scroll down to April 2006.


Missed the program?

Click here to order your copy of the full length film. Duration: 45 minutes. Ships on May 2 2006.




Mar 01 2006

Encyclopaedia sets out the case for Paliki as Homer's Ithaca


Wikipedia, the online encyclopaedia now accessed by about 75 million users per month, has published a significant new entry regarding the location of Homer's Ithaca.


"According to Robert Bittlestone's "Odysseus Unbound" (2005), written with the assistance of Professor James Diggle of Cambridge University and Professor John Underhill of the University of Edinburgh, Paliki, a peninsula of Kefalonia, is the location of Homer's Ithaca, the home of Odysseus in Homer's Odyssey. ".


Full text of Wikipedia entry on Odysseus Unbound

Full text of Wikipedia entry on Homer's Ithaca



Jan 20 2006

Odysseus Unbound is a ForeWord 'Big Ten' Exceptional Book for 2005

Joint winner in The Living Past category of University Presses


America's 'ForeWord' magazine has announced the results of its 'Ten Exceptional Books from University Presses' awards for 2005: 'Odysseus Unbound' is joint winner in The Living Past category.


"Year 2005 has been impossibly rich in every sort of book, and Big Ten choices must seem ever more arbitrary. Intent remains unchanged: to note ten books of unusual interest and reward...The acid tests are two: will a selected book ease two days’ isolation in a lonely, snow-bound cabin? And would a book’s owner (at the risk of a ruptured friendship) say, “You’d love this—but I’m not about to lend it and lose it”?... The best books invariably open the mind to ideas and experiences beyond the expected: they expand the reader’s universe."


"Odysseus Unbound brings new analyses to an old problem: the seeming impossibility of pinpointing on Ithaca Homer’s many references to the much-changed island. Using the most advanced investigative techniques available to geologists and archaeologists, together with aerial photography and comprehensive literary research, the expert authorial trio posits, disproves, or proves hypotheses in order to “reconstruct” ancient Ithaca, allowing for convincing identification of Homer’s locations and sites, including that of Odysseus’s palace. The appositely quoted Odyssey forms the spine of the book, scientific findings its ribs, and vivid prose its sinews. The reader’s reward is truly thrilling detection supported by breathtaking illustration, yielding a revitalized epic whose prime location of Ithaca is made newly recognizable and powerfully evocative".

Full text of ForeWord announcement

Prize draw on March 24 2006 for a free signed copy of the book


Dec 16 2005

Odysseus Unbound findings voted a Top Science Story by Discover magazine


America's Discover magazine has announced the results of its 'Year in Science' top stories for 2005. In the History of Science section the journal writes "Bittlestone says Odysseus' home is not the Greek island now called Itháki, as some believe, nor is it a creation of Homer's imagination. The real Ithaca, he says, is the peninsula of Paliki on the western side of the island of Kefallinía in the Ionian Sea".


Full text of Press announcement



Dec 9 2005

Global Mapper technology confirms Homer's description of ancient Ithaca as 'low-lying'


Latest version of software package calculates average elevation above sea level of Paliki vs. Ithaki


Click here for full size screenshots and instructions


Nov 30 2005

Cambridge event debates classical controversy


Can Odysseus' island be identified as closely as 'Odysseus Unbound' suggests? If so, how could Homer have known the geography so well? On November 30 the Cambridge University Hellenic Society hosted a presentation on this topic.


Click here for further details on the Events page

Click here to access the Reviews page that sets out the controversy

About 130 delegates attended the seminar: Click here for photographs


Nov 28 2005

NASA’s ‘World Wind’ Planetary Visualisation software pinpoints proposed site of ancient Ithaca


NASA's free 'World Wind' software can be downloaded to track the discovery. Fly around ancient Ithaca on your PC.


Click here for full size screenshots and instructions






Oct 28 2005

Book Reviews page added to website


“Odysseus Unbound has made the final link between real location and Homeric description”...“Paliki-as-island is a sensational hypothesis”...“Bittlestone's argument romps home”...“the account of how he reached his conclusions is clear, engaging, funny, wonderfully illustrated”...“Bittlestone has had the benefit of expert advice from James Diggle, probably the greatest living Hellenist, and John Underhill, professor at the University of Edinburgh (well known to football fans: he referees for FIFA)”... “I've just finished reading Odysseus Unbound and I have to say that the experience was utterly enthralling from start to finish”...“A fascinating and compelling book"...“I can feel that Odysseus was a real person, and that some sort of journey took place. It was just so amazing and I highly recommend it for anyone who loves Greece, Homer, or the Odyssey”... “If Robert Bittlestone is correct, this will be one of the most important archaeological discoveries since Schliemann’s uncovering of Troy in the late 19th century”... “Scholars will now have to think again about received wisdom on the Odyssey”...“Shines a light on the past and its scholarly achievement must be acknowledged”.


Click here to access the Reviews page


Oct 22 2005

Lixouri seminar

Seminars in the UK, USA and Greece attract worldwide audience for 'Odysseus Unbound' discovery


Since the September 29 news conference the authors have delivered seminars in London, Oxford, Cambridge, Washington and Athens, and also in Kefallinia itself (Lixouri and Argostoli), attracting audiences of up to several hundred delegates. Computer-based animations were used to explain the landscape changes and NASA's "World Wind" software was deployed to enable the audience to 'fly around' the island of Kefallinia. The conferences in Greece were delivered simultaneously in Greek and English. Pending further geological tests there was widespread acceptance of these new proposals and considerable interest in following the progress of "Phase B".


Click on the entries below for photographs of these events.


September 29: London - Foreign Press Association

October 4: Cambridge - Heffers

October 6: Oxford - Blackwells

October 13: Washington - Center for Hellenic Studies

October 19: Athens - Ledra Marriott and Eleftheroudakis

October 21: Kefallinia - Lixouri

October 22: Kefallinia - Argostoli


Oct 12 2005

Odysseus Unbound authors to visit Greece: seminars and book-signing in Athens and Kefallinia

Between October 19-22 Robert Bittlestone, Professor James Diggle and Professor John Underhill will be in Greece to present seminars and to answer questions about the geological, classical and archaeological discoveries of Odysseus Unbound: The Search for Homer's Ithaca. The seminars will be illustrated throughout with slides and computer animations and the content is aimed at a non-specialist audience. The talks will be delivered simultaneously in Greek and English. There is no charge for attendance and signed copies of the book will be available for purchase.


IGMEClick on the entries below for further details.


October 19 at 11:00 - Athens Ledra Marriott Hotel

October 19 at 18:00 - Eleftheroudakis Bookshop, Athens

October 21 at 19:00 - New Theatre, Lixouri, Kefallinia

October 22 at 17:00 - Mediterranean Hotel, Argostoli, Kefallinia


Click here to download event posters:

ENGLISH: Athens Ledra Marriott Hotel, New Theatre Lixouri, Mediterranean Hotel Argostoli.

GREEK: New Theatre Lixouri, Mediterranean Hotel Argostoli.

Full text of Press announcement


Sep 29 2005

John Underhill, James Diggle and Robert Bittlestone

International project team announces discovery of location of Homer’s Ithaca:

• Dramatic geological shifts hid solution to mystery of Odysseus’ island for 3,000 years

• Peninsula in western Kefallinia believed to have been a separate island

• Catastrophic earthquakes triggered massive landslides that joined islands together


What is potentially one of the most exciting classical discoveries for over 130 years was revealed in London today. At a conference held at the Foreign Press Association, Robert Bittlestone (Chairman of management consultancy Metapraxis Ltd), James Diggle (Professor of Greek and Latin at Cambridge University) and John Underhill (Professor of Stratigraphy at Edinburgh University) announced that they had found new and compelling evidence in support of the location of ancient Ithaca, the island described in great detail in Homer’s Odyssey.


Full text of Press announcement

Watch Channel 4 Special Report in Windows Media Player (9 Mb broadband)

Global Press coverage



Sep 28 2005


Statement issued today in Athens by the Institute of Geology and Mineral Exploration:

“The Institute of Geology and Mineral Exploration in Athens has facilitated the geological researches of Professor John Underhill in the Ionian Islands since 1982. The results of his recent investigation of the Holocene geomorphology of western Kefallinia are unexpected and thought-provoking. We are pleased to be working closely with him and his team at the University of Edinburgh with the joint objective of furthering our understanding of the geological history and the tectonic setting of these islands. We have already started on a program of collaborative marine surveys and we look forward to advancing our knowledge of this region together.”


Sep 26 2005

Petros Tatoulis

Statement issued today in Athens by The Deputy Minister of Culture, Petros Tatoulis:

"The Hellenic Ministry of Culture welcomes the release of the book “Odysseus Unbound: The Search for Homer’s Ithaca” (Robert Bittlestone, with James Diggle and John Underhill: Cambridge University Press, 2005). The book opens exciting prospects for future research regarding the location of Homeric Ithaca. The Ministry eagerly follows Mr. Bittlestone’s hypothesis and looks forward to staying informed about any future developments".


Sep 12 2005


Countdown to the solution of the mystery of Odysseus’ island which has baffled scholars for over 2,000 years

A Press statement was issued today confirming arrangements for the Press conference in London on September 29 at which the details of the discovery will be announced. To read the statement click here.


Aug 25 2005


NASA announces role of 'World Wind' in the Search for Homer's Ithaca:

"NASA's extraordinary 'World Wind' technology has made it possible for us to fly around ancient Ithaca as if we were hovering over it in a helicopter."


Aug 3 2005


OziExplorer integrates satellite images with GPS data for Odysseus Unbound:

"We linked OziExplorer's 2D mapping software to satellite imagery and GPS waypoints. By integrating this with high-resolution digital elevation model data we were then able to 'lift' these images off the ground using OziExplorer 3D. The results represented a real breakthrough in landscape visualisation."


Jul 21 2005

Global Mapper

Global Mapper provides Odysseus Unbound team with DEM support:

"Global Mapper's powerful satellite image visualisation tools and support for Digital Elevation Models enabled us to answer an age-old clue in the Odyssey about low-lying vs. mountainous terrain."