History of the City
Ithaca, the island home of Odysseus, is one of the most popular islands in Greece. Not only in the present, but also in antiquity and mythology. Homer in his epics has left a legacy to foreign and Greek scholars, who have debated and worked years with this project. In addition to Homer, older writers such as Akousilaos, said that Ithakos, Niritos and Polyktor were the three sons of King Pterelaou who was from Jupiter. The wife of Ulysses, Penelope, was the daughter of king Icarus and Polykastis. The Iliad and Odyssey of Homer certainly could not be written in a condensed version. These two works of great historical significance, have made the history of Ithaki known world wide. Despite centuries of invaders to the island, names and places remain unchanged to this day. The epics of Homer prove that Ithaca is the home of Odysseus.
Ithaca was inhabited from the Neolithic period (4000-3000 BC), as evidenced by the finds from excavations in the cave of Loizou and at Pilikata. The Odyssey by scholars begins in 1174 BC with the arrival of Odysseus to Ithaca after ten years of wandering. References are made in the Odyssey regarding the Cave of Eumaeus and the Cave of the Nymphs. Ulysses, who ruled until his death, was succeeded by his son Telemachus.
From 1000-800 BC Ithaki was conquered by the Dorians and after by the Corinthians until 180 BC, when Ithaki was conquered by the Romans.
The Romans remained in the island until 394 AD, most of the population lived in the north. From 394 AD Ithaki becomes part of the Byzantine Empire, which established the Christian cult and built churches and monasteries.
In 1185 the island was conquered by the Normans and then passes into the hands of the Orsini family in 1204, Tocchi family in 1357, and then in 1479 the Turks, who pillaged and killed much of the inhabitants. The Turkish occupation lasted until 1503, when the island was sold to the Venetians. The Venetian rule lasted until 1797, which then saw the first French occupation. The population of Paleochora, Anogi and Exogi increase greatly and Vathi is the capital of the island. In 1799 the Ionian islands are occupied by the Russo-Turkish occupation for a short period and then returns to the hands of the French. The French rule, although short-term had a positive impact on residents of the Ionian islands. The new social doctrines, the principles of freedom and equality of the French Revolution revive a sense of freedom and fatherland in the souls of the Ionian Islands.
In 1809 begins the period of British rule and the founding of the independent state, 'United States of Ionian Islands " and ruled constitutional by the Ionian Parliament. Interest in Homeric Ithaki began, the economy flourished, and the social life is upgraded. On 21 May, 1864 the international political situation led to the union of Eftanison (Ionian Islands) with Greece.
In recent history, many Ithakicians have business interests in the Balkans and world wide. The island is modernized in the beginning of the 20th century. The construction of public buildings, opening new roads, the electrical plant opens in 1923, the island's shipping develops and the intellectual life is active. But in 1953 the island is hit by an earthquake that destroyed most of the settlements and villages. With the help of the state and many Ithakian immigrants, the island was rebuilt.
Historical Archive Of Ithaki
The archives of the Historical Archive of Ithaca is composed of about 1,500,000 documents covering a historical period from the early 17th century to the present. It has the distinction of being the most complete documentation by the local authorities of the Ionian Islands. Included are periods of political change, wars, and earthquakes. Documentation was mostly due to increased historical and cultural consciousness of the Ithakicians. After work done in the last decade under the scientific supervision of the National Research Foundation, it is divided into the following sections. a) File Commands (Venetian Archive Administration, Archive Administrations of the two decades 1797-1817, Archives Administration of Greek state). b) File notary. c) File registrar. d) Ecclesiastical Archives.
Excavations and Finds
In Ithaki, the archaeologist Nicholas Kyparissis stated, excavations were always small in scale, unlike the literary works which were great.
According to the study of 1927, by the University Professor Apostolos Arvanitopoulos, the first exploration of Ithaki began in 1678 by PALMIER DE GRENTESMENIL. Scientific exploration, as he notes, and some excavations began later in 1804-1806 with GELL DADWELL RAIKES. Only MARTINO DEAKE, who knew well Greek and Latin, established the town of Ulysses in the north, as Arvanitopoulos notes as the correct location.
He says in Ithaki there were temples of Athena, Hera and Artemis, without describing the location. The Temple of Artemis brought to light by excavations done by BENDON, in Aetos. The goddess Athena, in Kathara , where an area is named Athena Parthenos. And traces of worship of the goddess Hera where found in the cave of Loizou. Arvanitopoulos also describes a beautiful gold necklace that was found in a tomb, adorned with stones, also carved representations and inscriptions, located in the collection of the English archaeologist FIOTT LEE. O SCHLIMANN, excavations held in 1868 and again in 1878, where he discovered the Dorians and the Corinthians presence in Ithaki. Of course, we should mention that in 1811 - 1814 excavations were made by the Governor of the island GUITERA, after looting-ravaged-200 graves in the area of Aetos and gold objects of the findings where sold in Livorno, collecting 6,500 pounds.
In 1896 DORPFELD arrived in Ithaki, where he did a short archaeological study, came back in 1900, but left quickly. The 1905 excavations where held by WOLLGRAFF and KOECOOP. The excavations were made in many places with the most important finding from Melanythro and Aeto. Excavations where made in 1930 by HERTLEY and The British School of Archaeology. He surveyed the hill of Pilikata, the cave of Loizou, the School of Homer and the region of Stavros. HERTLEY describes in the vicinity of Stavros a 4th century wall that extends to the cemetery of St. Elias, and also that there is evidence of inhabitation in Pilikata from ancient times until the end of the Mycenaean period.
At Dexia, excavations where held in 1931-1933 by Constantine Petala, under the supervision of Nicholas Kyparissis and revealed part of the cave in which Odysseus slept, after being left there by the Faiakes. The mouth of the cave was destroyed by Roman quarrying operations, however the interior, with a depth of 12 meters, was found intact.
This cave next to the sand that is covered today by a paved road, had been described by Artemidorus in the 2nd century, and Porphyry the Neoplatonist philosopher, in 233 AD who had written a comprehensive text on 'The Odysseiakon Cave of the Nymphs. " BENDON, continued to investigate before and after the war of 1940 the island of Ithaki. HERTLEY, notes in his article in 1938 that the likely location of the palace of Odysseus was on the hill of Pilikata. Furthermore, it describes the piles of stones, on the hill Pilikata, during the war of Troy and in the life of Odysseus. The archaeologist BENDON, has described the extensive findings in the cave of Loizou, the fragment with inscription 'Wishes from Odysseus' (ΕΥΧΗΝ ΟΔΥΣΣΕΙ), the Mycenaean vessels, and the famous tripods, one of twelve that where first found by Dimitrios Loizos. In Trilagkada, where excavations where also held by BENDON, brought to light many important objects of the Mycenaean period, and remains of a large house with magnificent mosaics. A description by WOLLGRAFF, regarding finds at the cave of Loizou, included a Corinthian plate with colorful decorations, depicting animals and birds from the 7th century b.c.. Also an ivory statuette depicted a standing man surrounded by a bronze rope, it is believed that this is Odysseus, and many other artifacts. Undoubtedly, the shell engraved with the Linear A must be mentioned, it is unexplained to this day. HERTLEY discovered a tablet on the hill of Pilikata 1931, which was interpreted at Indiana University in 1989, by Professor PAUL FAURE, as follows: The bride saved me. Here's what I, Aredatis, give to the goddess Rhea 100 goats, 10 sheep, 3 pigs.
In recent years excavations have been held in the south of Ithaca in Aetos, by Professor Sarantis Symeonoglou in the cave called of the Nymphs. In his research he notes findings of inhabitation since 1400 b.c. and major disasters such as an earthquake in 373 b.c..
Also excavations in the north of Ithaca, by archaeologist Ms. Litsa KONTORLI-PAPADOPOULOS from the University of Ioannina, in the area of St. Elias graves where found contaning significant gifts, gold and silver, also in Melanythro beautiful gold jewelry, and various ruins of buildings, polygonal walls and an underground prehistoric fountain. Also, a circular building, which was approximately half covered by soil.
Excavations at North Ithaki
The Department of Archaeology, University of Ioannina, under the direction of Asst. Professor Litsa Kontorli-Papadopoulou and Prof. Athanasios Papadopoulos, have been conducting excavations in northern Ithaca since 1994.
South of the village of Kalyvia near the excavation site of Benton, test trenches revealed remains of Mycenaean houses.
At Stavros, in two locations, excavations uncovered large Hellenistic cist tomb with four slabs engraved with plates bearing the letters A, B, C, D. containing the remains of the cremated dead and precious gems (silver flask, copper bowl, plates, rings and a silver triovolo from the Achaean Confederacy 165-150 BC). On the land plot of Erasmia Raftopoulou, where found and studied two gates and parts of Cyclopean fortification walls.
In Pilikata were found trenches and an Early Helladic wall, part of which was discovered and published by Hertley. The outer side is composed of boulders and the interior is filled with small stones. Also found, the Helladic arched foundations of houses, a wall with the length of 31.50 m and stone built drainage and water pipes.
Agios Athanasios - School Homer, north east on the hillside of the village of Exogi, revealed parts of a citadel dating from the prehistoric to the Roman years. Containing an ancient building complex connected with stone staircases. In the east, there is an underground prehistoric fountain tank built similar to the underground tanks of Mycenae and Tiryns. The finds are in museums of Stavros and Vathi.