In what may be a case of portions of myth turning out to be historical fact, Greek archaeologists assert that they have discovered the tomb and
legendary capital of Odysseus, hero of Homer's The Odyssey
. For years, many have searched the island of Ithaca (Ithaki) for the ruins of the
capital described in Homer's works, assuming that it would lie there since the isle and the mythical city share the same name. However using Homer's
descriptions as a guide, the 1991 revealing of a tomb apparently used to bury royalty and artefacts found within, combined with studies of surrounding
landmarks and ancient structures, have led archaeologists to claim that the village of Poros on Kefalonia Island is the site of the City of Ithaca and
Odysseus' resting place. The former governor of the the region has also claimed conspiracy to cover up the revelations in order to protect the
tourist industry of modern-day Ithaca.
But two pieces of fairly recent evidence suggest archaeologists were looking in the wrong place. In 1991, a tomb of the type used to bury ancient
Greek royalty was found near the hamlet of Tzannata in the hills outside Poros. It is the largest such tomb in north-eastern Greece, with remains of
at least 72 persons found in its stone niches.
One find there is particularly telling. In Book XIX of the “Odyssey,” the just-returned and still disguised Odysseus tells his wife (who may or
may not realize who she’s talking to; Homer is deliberately ambivalent) that he encountered Odysseus many years earlier on the island of Crete. He
describes in detail a gold brooch the king wore on that occasion. A gold brooch meeting that precise description lies now in the archaeological museum
at Argostoli, the main city on Kefalonia, 30 miles across the island from Poros.
Greek archaeologists also found sections of ancient city walls extending for miles through the hills around and well beyond Poros. These surround both
the village and a steep adjacent hill which bears evidence it once served as an acropolis, what the Greeks called hilltop forts in most of their major
cities. The stones of the walls date to about 1300 B.C., the approximate time of events described in the “Iliad” and “Odyssey.”Please visit the link provided for the complete story.
The village of Poros in the article should not be confused with the Poros on the large south island of Greece. The Poros referred to here is situated
on the isle of Kefalonia (spelling varies).
Below is the description of the brooch, taken from The Odyssey
"Goodly Odysseus wore a thick purple mantle, twofold, which had a brooch fashioned in gold, with two sheathes for the pins, and on the face of it
was a curious device: a hound in his forepaws held a dappled fawn and gazed on it as it writhed. And all men marvelled at the workmanship, how,
wrought as they were in gold, the hound was gazing on the fawn and strangling it, and the fawn was writhing with his feet and striving to
I can't seem to find any pictures of the brooch allegedly found in the tomb.
Archaeological Museum of Argostoli website
The acropolis hill
The hill mentioned in the article may be Mount Atros, 5km above Poros, upon which rests the Monastery of the Virgin Mary of Atros, which is the oldest
standing building on the Kefalonia Island, dating back to the 8th century.
Situated 5 kilometres above the town of Poros is the Monastery of the Virgin Mary of Atros. Located on Mount Atros, at an altitude of 760
metres above sea level, overlooking Poros, this is the oldest monastery in Kefalonia. The tower dating back to the middle ages is still preserved and
the original Monastery was built in the Byzantine era around the 8th century. In former years the manly Monastery had many members but it's now down
to only one monk.
The Monastery has had quite an eventful and colourful history, having been destroyed 17 times (often by earthquakes) but always being rebuilt by the
monks themselves. The Monastery was attacked 3 times by Saracens during the middle ages with 127 monks losing their lives in its defence. The actual
fortress built at the Monastery to withstand these constant attacks and protect the monks and valuables has been classed as the oldest standing
building on Kefalonia - well worth a visit for those adventurous enough to go off the beaten track. The road leading up to the monastery is in poor
The article mentions that Homer's description of Mt. Neriton matches Mt. Aenos, which overlooks Poros to the West.
View from the mountain looking down
The Cave of the Nymphs
Homer's description of the legendary Cave of the Nymphs puts them a day or two's walk from the city of Ithaca. The cave mentioned in the article 15
or so miles NW of Poros appears to be the Drogorati Caves, which are a couple of kilometres away from the town of Sami.
The Drogorati Caves
Can anyone shed more light on the search for Ithaca, and whether or not these new claims are bunk?
[edit on 2005-10-3 by wecomeinpeace]