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The Forgotten King of Ithaca - Nigel Summerley

Blog | By Nigel Summerley | Aug 03, 2023

Picture by Nigel Summerley

Pictured above is the new sign that has appeared at the entrance to the most remarkable site on Ithaca...
It's difficult to believe this is how the authorities are promoting a place that was described by Homer as the Palace of Odysseus – and unequivocally confirmed as such in recent times by the esteemed archaeologist Thanasis Papadopoulos, who studied the extensive Mycenaean remains here.
There's a further "explanatory" sign nearby (pictured below), which conveys precisely nothing – apart from labelling the site as Agios Athanasios (the name of the latterday church on the site which had absolutely no connection with Odysseus, apart from employing building material purloined from the much older palace).

The epic The Odyssey was arguably one of the greatest stories ever told and the foundation of western literature... Does Ithaca care nothing for the fact it has a site of such huge cultural significance crumbling away in a neglected corner of the island?
It is certainly not caring for the site, which lost vital coverings in a hurricane three years ago.
Nor is it providing any real information for curious visitors to the site, who can end up wandering about, not knowing what they are looking at.
The architect Dimitris Skirgiannis produced beautiful and detailed representations of what the Palace of Odysseus probably looked like, based on the work of archaeologist Litsa Kontorli-Papadopoulou. These drawings could be reproduced at the site, with a key to all the relevant locations there. This would cost almost nothing.
Meanwhile, it is left to the excellent exhibition set up by – and thanks to the passion of – Dimitris Paizis-Danias, in the nearby village of Stavros, to lay out in detail why this site is so important and why it is so clearly linked to the times and the tales of Odysseus.
Anyone with a serious interest in the remarkable legacy that Ithaca seems to be doing its best to ignore should read Papadopoulos's testament, The Excavation at Agios Athansios, which is now available on Amazon.
It would be rather good if the powers-that-be took a look at it too...