Excavations at the archaeological site believed to be the Palace of Homer’s epic hero Odysseus on the island of Ithaca are to resume after the Prime Minister promised the necessary funding.
“The Prime Minister has assured us that the excavations at the Palace of Odysseus will resume,” the mayor of Ithaca, Dionysis Stanitsas, said in an interview with the state news agency amna. Like a modern Odysseys Tispras visited the island on Tuesday to announce that Greece finally reached its target and exited the bailout agreement.
“We discussed the issue of excavations in Ithaca where the palace of Odysseus was located. The municipality finances with 120,000 euros the efforts of the Ministry of Culture and the municipality to promote the site,” the mayor said.
For 16 years archaeologists from the University of Ioannina carried out excavations in Agios Athanasios of Ithaca until 2009. Then they stopped due to lack of funding and the economic crisis.
“The Prime Minister assured us that he would help the Ministry of Culture with extraordinary funding to continue the excavations,” Stanitsas said.
The excavation site is believed to be a large Mycenaean palatial building complex occupying two levels. A stairway cut into the solid bedrock of the hill provided easy access to the two levels. Other finds on the site include a funerary enclosure, a large circular structure whose purpose is unknown, several storerooms and workshops, a sophisticated drainage system and fragments of pottery.
The layout of the complex, where Professor Thanassis Papadopoulos and his team have been digging for 16 years, is very similar to palaces discovered at Mycenae, Pylos and other ancient sites.
The claim will be greeted with skepticism by the many scholars who believe that Odysseus, along with other key characters from the Homer’s epic such as Hector and Achilles, were purely fictional.
“Whether this find has a connection with Ulysses or not is interesting up to a certain point, but more important is the discovery of the royal palace,” said Adriano La Regina, an Italian archaeologist.
Further complicating the identification of the site is the doubt over whether the ancient kingdom of Ithaca was located on its modern day namesake, Ithaki. A British researcher, has said Homer’s descriptions bear little resemblance to the island and that ancient Ithaca was in fact located on the Paliki peninsula, on the island of Kefalonia.
PS I suppose we will know whether the Palace belonged to Odysseus once the mass grave with the suitors’ bones will be discovered.