When the Greek Reporter released an article this week about modern Greeks having Mycenean DNA, it made me think about the elusive Odysseus and the search for Him that has been by far one of the hardest.
But a few years ago, I became fascinated by the quests of modern adventurers like the late Tim Severin who proved the voyage of Jason possible, and then I moved on to the geographical research into Homeric Ithaka. Like Severin, I refused to accept the analysis of "myth busters," mainly because they've been proven fools numerous times. I was not content with the conclusion that Homer's Odyssey describes an island civilization that didn't exist. Because the problem with this analysis is that Homer's world was not set in stone, but one forever in motion due to earthquakes. Even Troy was only accepted as factual when Schliemann dug it up from the earth and matched it to Homer's descriptions. And Schliemann, among others, also visited Ithaka during his time as an archaeologist and mythologist. Not only were coins discovered depicting Odysseus, but a sanctuary to Apollon from 1,400 BCE, before the Trojan War (the specific worship of Apollon on Ithaka is mentioned in Homer). But of course, evidence of life on the island goes all the way back to 3,000 BCE, with findings that prove Mycenean civilization was there at one time. So there is no debate whatsoever that Ithaka was notable during the Iliad Era.
It was perhaps only a matter of time before we either found the location of Odysseus' home or declared it lost forever. Indeed, Greece has always been a very seismic region, especially on the islands. Sometimes earthquakes completely wiped out the town or village and sent part of it plunging into the sea. Some things from Homer may be unfindable simply because they were destroyed not only by the Christian church, but through natural movement and erosion. I suppose I've always been fascinated by Odysseus and Ithaka because The Odyssey was my first taste of ancient Greece when my English high school class watched the film. I was captivated at that point. I even dressed up like Odysseus during Hero Day, one of the days held during School Pride Week. In truth, I never doubted the story for a minute. I always believed it.
For a long time, Odysseus' palace remained the only Homeric royal residence that had not been located. But by 2018 and on into today, it has been declared found by archaeologists on Ithaka. The Greek government was so sure of this that the Prime Minister sent 120,000 Euros to continue funding the excavations. The large building found in Agios of Ithaka has been confirmed to be a Mycenean complex, which existed at the time of Odysseus' rule and fits perfectly with Homeric details. The archaeologists and professors responsible for the find are not leaving it to mere interpretation either. They believe it proves Odysseus was real. The final piece of the palace puzzle has now fallen into place. Homer is history. With so much discovery and truth of the ancient stories, and now one more added to the pile, one may wonder how long it will take before the Greeks realize where they truly come from.
In the Goodness of the Gods,
Picture: Fresco of a Mycenean Woman, 1,300 BCE. Image is in the public domain in the United States because it is PD-Art and the copyright term therein has expired 100 years after the author's death.
Article 1 (Ithaka Archaeology)
Article 2 (Excavation of Odysseus' Palace)
Google (Palace Landmark and Visitation)