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NASA World Wind helps solve 3,000 year old mystery of ancient Ithaca, the island home of Homer's Odysseus

     The location of Greek hero Odysseus’ homeland - the island of Ithaca described in the poet Homer’s Odyssey - is a mystery that has baffled scholars for nearly 3,000 years. Now this ancient enigma has been solved with the help of World Wind, NASA’s 3D planetary visualisation tool.

     The site of Homer’s Ithaca has been identified by Robert Bittlestone, Chairman of the UK management consultancy Metapraxis, whose quest was motivated by combining his company’s experience in the visualisation of complex data with a lifelong interest in Greece and the classics. He has solved the problem with the help of James Diggle, Professor of Greek and Latin at Cambridge University , and John Underhill , Professor of Geology at Edinburgh University .

     Many people have thought that Homer’s island of Ithaca was fictitious, but that was also believed about Homer’s city of Troy until Schliemann found its real location in the 1870s after reading the Iliad and interpreting the clues that the poet provides. This radical solution to the mystery of ancient Ithaca ’s location was discovered by sifting through the Odyssey and following a similar detective trail of literary, scientific and archaeological clues. The remarkable conclusion is that researchers over the centuries have been looking for ancient Ithaca in the wrong place.

     Robert Bittlestone comments “NASA’s extraordinary ‘World Wind’ technology has made it possible for us to fly around ancient Ithaca as if we were hovering over it in a helicopter. Geographical and geological insights that would have taken weeks or months to acquire at considerable expense by conventional means have been achieved almost effortlessly via this stunning new three dimensional visualisation technique.”

     The location of ancient Ithaca will be announced on September 29, 2005 and a further website update will be provided at that time. The book describing the discovery will be published by Cambridge University Press in October with the title “Odysseus Unbound: The Search for Homer’s Ithaca ”. Further details of the book can be found at:

http://www.cambridge.org/uk/catalogue/catalogue.asp?isbn=0521853575

 

Curator: Randolph Kim
Responsible NASA Official: Patrick Hogan
Last Updated: 9/13/2004
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