Bittlestone, Robert 1952–

Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article Share Article
views updated

Bittlestone, Robert 1952–

PERSONAL: Born 1952; married; wife's name Jean; children: four. Education: Christ's College, Cambridge University, M.A. Hobbies and other interests: Skiing, wind-surfing.

ADDRESSES: Home—Kingston-upon-Thames, England. Office—Metapraxis Ltd., Hanover House, Coombe Road, Kingston-upon-Thames, Surrey KT2 7AH, England.

CAREER: Vickers, England, 1973–76; Roneo Vickers, England, head of financial analysis and group information, 1976–78; Metapraxis Ltd., Kingston-upon-Thames, England, founder, managing director, and chairman, 1979–.

MEMBER: Royal Society of Arts, Manufacturers and Commerce.

WRITINGS:

(With James Diggle and John Underhill) Odysseus Unbound: The Search for Homer's Ithaca, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 2005.

Author of the column "The Soft Machine" for Chief Executive magazine.

SIDELIGHTS: In Odysseus Unbound: The Search for Homer's Ithaca, amateur archeologist Robert Bittlestone and his coauthors, Cambridge University professor James Diggle and University of Edinburgh geographer John Underhill, claim they have discovered that the real Ithaca of Greek legend was not the island of Ithaki, but rather the peninsula of Paliki on the Greek island Cephalonia. Using satellite images to match the physical features of the island to the descriptions in Homer's Odyssey, Bittlestone worked with the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and the Institute of Geology and Mineral Exploration in Athens. Besides locating Ithaca, the researchers matched up twenty-five other locations mentioned in the Odyssey that are scattered around Paliki.

By profession, Bittlestone is a management consultant and the founder of Metapraxis Ltd.; he combined his business skills with his love of technology to examine various data that led him to new conclusions about the Trojan War. During trips to Greece, he used archeological data, 3-D imaging systems developed by NASA, and newly available geological data to make his discoveries. Bittlestone surmises that over the centuries, earthquakes have changed the landscape somewhat, making Homer's literary descriptions of the area unreliable.

Experts have long claimed that both Odysseus and Ithaca are far from historical fact, yet Bittlestone's discoveries have been enthusiastically received by Greek officials and history buffs alike. "Our purpose has been to demonstrate that there is something both very new and very old to be found at this new location and that we should now treat the existence of ancient Ithaca very seriously," Bittlestone told a reporter for the BBC News. He also declared that the discovery of Ithaca is as important as the 1870s discovery of ancient Troy in modern-day Turkey. Gil-bert Taylor, writing in Booklist, was impressed by Bittlestone's investigation, which he called "enthralling," and the book's satellite photos, which he called "resplendent." T.L. Cooksey, writing in Library Journal, called Odysseus Unbound "a fascinating and compelling book." Michael Bywater, reviewing the book for the London Telegraph, was impressed with the authors' theories and evidence, yet retained a pragmatically critical eye regarding their conclusions. "The real Ithaca, if Ithaca ever was 'real'—emerges, recedes, relocates, proves impossible, proves magically possible, proves, finally, almost uncannily plausible, thanks to the Earth's own almost magical fluidity, its ability to rise, fall, shift and change shape."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, December 1, 2005, Gilbert Taylor, review of Odysseus Unbound: The Search for Homer's Ithaca, p. 13.

Charleston Post & Courier, January 8, 2006, Jeff Johnson, review of Odysseus Unbound.

Library Journal, October 15, 2005, T.L. Cooksey, review of Odysseus Unbound, p. 56.

Telegraph (London, England), October 10, 2005, Michael Bywater, review of Odysseus Unbound.

ONLINE

BBC News Web site, http://news.bbc.co.uk/ (February 24, 2006), "Search 'Locates' Homer's Ithaca."

MSNBC Web site, http://msmbc.msn.com/ (September 30, 2005), "Has Odyssey Hero's Land Been Found?"

Odysseus Unbound Web site, http://www.odysseus-unbound.org (February 24, 2006).