Ancient Ithaca

Ancient Ithaca, in the Ionian: Ithaca is known all over the world as the homeland and kingdom of legendary Ulysses, the great hero of the Homeric poem Odyssey. In fact, the history of the island started in the prehistoric times, although we have no significant evidence of that civilization. Traces of houses and walls that have been found do not permit archaeologists to make a clear description of life at that time. As shown by the poems of Homer and by excavations, the kingdom of Ithaca reached its peak during the Mycenaean times (1500-1100 B.C), and particularly when king Odyssey came on the thrown.

Most information about this period is given by the poems of Homer and not by archaeological excavations. From these poems, we learn about the high social and cultural life that developed on the island. Its economy was mostly based on agriculture, kettle breeding and navigation, while important buildings were constructed, such as the palace of Ulysses. Historians believe that the Mycenaean kingdom of Ithaca included the neighboring island of Kefalonia and some parts of the opposite mainland.

After the Dorian invasion in the 11th century BC, Ithaca declined and was conquered by other powerful Greek towns. The most important town in the centuries that followed was Alalcomenae, founded in the Hellenistic times, close to the modern village of Aetos. Findings in that area revealed some coins with the name of Ithaca imprinted on them as well as the image of Ulysses. This ancient town is also mentioned by ancient writers and geographers, such as Plutarch, which shows its important role, but it seems that it soon declined.