The Identity of Ancient Ithaca

Classical Association News

The Identity of Ancient Ithaca: A Response

Reproduced with the kind permission of the Editor

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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 Robert Bittlestone 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He has kindly provided us with a copy of this unpublished document which purports to disprove the possibility currently being tested by John Underhill and his team that either (b) or (c) may instead apply.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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