From World Science:
Homer’s Ithaca possibly found
Jan. 10, 2007
Special to World Science
British researchers say they may have solved a centuries-old mystery: the location of Ithaca, homeland of the hero of Homer’s The Odyssey.
The epic poem describes Ithaca as the birthplace of King Ulysses, who wandered decades at sea before a long-awaited homecoming to his queen, Penelope.
A modern island of Ithaca exists, and for centuries classicists have thought it was the one in the story.
But there was always a glitch: Homer asserts that the island was the westernmost of the Ionian archipelago.
But the westernmost island is really Kefalonia, which is also much bigger than the place Homer described.
The research team included businesman and amateur archaeologist Robert Bittlestone, heir to a tradition begun by another businessman, the famous Heinrich Schliemann—discoverer of the homeric city of Troy, in 1870.
With Bittlestone worked classicist James Diggle of Cambridge University and geologist John Underhill of the University of Edinburgh.
They found that Ithaca is indeed today’s Kefalonia; but only the westernmost part of it, which is now a peninsula.
Three millennia ago, in Homer’s Bronze Age, this peninsula was an island, they said. Landslides and rockfalls from earthquakes later filled in the gap between the two islands.
Geologic tests announced this week by the team have confirmed this theory, initially based on geographic considerations only, the researchers added.
The group said they conducted extensive geological and geophysical studies on the southern end of the strip of land between the peninsula and the rest of Kefalonia.
There, they drilled a 122-meter (133-yard) borehole. The drill never hit bedrock but instead plunged through loose sediments, rockfall and landslide material, reaching well below sea level, they said.
The absence of bedrock and presence of very young marine fossils in the sediments show that this added earth could have filled in the ancient sea channel to create an isthmus, or land bridge, between the once separate islands, the researchers claimed.
“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,” Underhill said.
See also here.
There are many theories where Ithaca, the island of Ulysses (Odyseus in Greek) really was.
Including cranky ones saying it was in The Netherlands or something.
We will have to wait and see whether further research confirms this newest hypothesis.
Bronze age in Spain: here.
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- ‘Astounding’ Bronze Age discoveries on Dartmoor hailed among most significant archaeological finds of last century (metro.co.uk)
- Part of Bodmin Moor put up for sale… complete with a Bronze Age village (swns.com)
- Full-size Bronze Age boat replica launched to answer questions about prehistoric seafaring (independent.co.uk)