We are very close to finding the answer!

Rigorous academic research, from geophysics to classical history, has produced compelling evidence to support Robert Bittlestone’s original hypothesis.

Read the detailed report of our most recent geophysical research findings.

Paliki was once a separate island

Aerial view of the Thinia valley between Paliki (left) and the rest of Kefalonia.

Our comprehensive geological investigations show that the Paliki peninsula was indeed separated from the main part of Kefalonia by a marine channel running along the Thinia valley some 400 thousand years ago.

So when was it filled in?  And how?  Most importantly, is there evidence to put the date of the event or events responsible as later than the time of Odysseus, c1200BC in the Late Bronze Age?

Massive landslip

Thinia Rotation
Approximate outline of the massive segment of mountainside that we believe dropped as a single block to choke the southern exit of the marine channel separating Paliki from the rest of Kefalonia.

The geology is complex but there is now very strong evidence that the southern end of the Thinia valley was blocked by a huge, single landslip, perhaps triggered by a powerful earthquake.

A huge section of the mountainside on the eastern side of the valley, shaped like a segment from an orange some 4km long and 1km wide, appears to have dropped down as a single block of rock and rotated as it hit the opposite side of the valley, lifting the marine channel some 180m into the air.

Additionally, the geological evidence suggests the northern end of the Thinia valley has been filled in by repeated conventional landslides.  Borehole cores reveal there was a buried beach at sea level on the Paliki side of the north end of the valley.

Critical dates

Dating the landslip event is crucial.

If we can show it happened within the last 3,200 years then it means the marine channel still existed and Paliki was an island at the time of Odysseus.

And if we can demonstrate it happened in the last 2,000 years or so then Strabo’s description is confirmed too.

Buried walls

Prof. Kosmas Pavlopoulos standing on the remains of an ancient wall

There is what appears to be a post-Bronze Age site on the Paliki side of the southern entrance to the Thinia valley whose walls end abruptly at the edge of the landslip material thrown up by the massive slump.

We are carrying out geophysical surveys to find out if they extend underneath that material and are covered by the landslip.

If so, that would put the date of the event some time between their construction and the arrival of the Venetians in around 1500AD and it would convincingly validate one of the most significant components the Odysseus Unbound theory.

Other Homeric sites

We have undertaken research at other sites on Paliki that we believe are the locations of key places in Homer’s text.

More information on potential Homeric sites.

The results are showing considerable promise:

Odysseus’ palace

Kastelli hill
Kastelli hill at the top of the Gulf of Livadi
EM survey on the summit of Kastelli
pottery sherds
Examples of pottery sherds of unknown date

There is tantalizing evidence of historic human occupation of Kastelli, including pottery sherds, that strongly backs our view that it is a prime candidate for the site of the palace.

Our geophysical surveys are focussed on looking for signs of walls and other man-made structures on Kastelli.

Odysseus’ harbour

Livadi Harbour Site
(Left) Livadi harbour site from Kastelli Hill.
(Right) Livadi harbour site beside Kastelli Hill.
Drilling rig
Drilling rig on site in the Livadi Marsh area

We believe the Livadi marsh at the top of the Gulf of Livadi is the most likely site for Odysseus’ harbour.

Our geophysical investigations and radiocarbon dating of material from boreholes drilled there have shown it was under the sea in the Late Bronze Age.

We believe that it formed a deep natural harbour that went right up to the base of Kastelli hill, our proposed site for Odysseus’ palace, fitting Homer’s description of the landscape.

Archaeology

Tholos tomb
Tholos tomb near Parisata

Finding evidence for the location of Odysseus’ palace and some of the other locations on Ithaca described by Homer will involve considerable archaeological work.

But there is already significant evidence of Late Mycenaean occupation of Paliki, where a number of Late Bronze Age tombs have been found.

Important note: Kastelli, the Livadi Marsh and many of the other candidate Homeric sites referred to in the book are on private property or are designated sites of archaeological interest.  Greek law is very strict in forbidding the removal of any artefacts, however small, from archaeological sites. Infringement can result in imprisonment.

These sites must not be visited without the permission of the landowner and/or accompanied by a member of the Odysseus Unbound project team.

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