If Paliki, the peninsula on the western coast of Kefalonia, was a separate island at the time of Odysseus…

…it is then a perfect candidate for Odysseus’ homeland of Ithaca, as described by Homer.  It’s west-facing, while the surrounding islands face east; it’s the furthest out to sea of the group and it’s low-lying.

A Brilliant Insight

Myrtos Bay rockslide
Rockslide in Myrtos Bay, probably triggered by an earthquake

In 2003, the British businessman Robert Bittlestone had an inspiration.

He realised that a marine channel could have separated Paliki from the main part of the island in the late Mycenaean age (around the 12th century BC) and it could have been filled in subsequently as a result of landslips from earthquakes and other major tectonic events, turning the island into the peninsula we see today.

Following exhaustive research in collaboration with leading scholars and other experts, Robert Bittlestone was able to match a series of locations on Paliki that fit with Homer’s description of Odysseus’ return home, including his palace and its harbour.

Read more about the key locations identified on Paliki.

Strabo’s Channel

Title page from Isaac Casaubon's 1620 edition of Geographica
Title page from Isaac Casaubon’s 1620 edition of Geographica

One of the most significant historical clues for a marine channel comes from the Greek geographer Strabo, writing in the 1st century AD.

In his seminal work, Geography, he writes of Kefalonia: ‘Where the island is narrowest it forms an isthmus so low-lying that it is often submerged from sea to sea’.

The only place that matches this description is the modern-day Kolpos Livadhiou – the Gulf of Livadi that separates the main part of Kefalonia from the Paliki peninsula to its west.

Today the presumed site of Strabo’s Channel is known as the Thinia Valley.  But at its highest point it is 180 metres above sea level.

So is there evidence for a large enough earthquake and landslip to fill the chanel to such a depth?

Same and Doulichion

Detail from the 1794 d'Anville Map of Ancient Greece
Detail from the 1794 d’Anville Map of Ancient Greece. Ithaca is described as “perhaps also Dulichium”.

The other islands mentioned by Homer are also easily identified.  The town of Sami is on Kefalonia’s east coast and there are multiple historical references to Same as the former name of Kefalonia.

Today’s Ithaki has often been given the name of Doulichion in the historical record, from Virgil through to the Venetians.

Its main town, now called Vathy, was called Dolicha as recently as 1675, when it was visited by Jacob Spon and Sir George Wheler.