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Odysseus left for ten years to take part in the Trojan War. It took him ten years to get back to Ithaka, but he navigated only a few months. The 1999-2001 expedition will also last a few months. It wil be concerned with three zones : the Ionian sea, its coasts and islands; the Aegean sea, the Bosphorus and Troja; the Tyrrhenian sea and its coasts, the Aeolian islands and the Syrtian shore.
The boat
The crew
Bound at the mast of his boat Odysseus heared the Siren's song.
The text of the Iliad is unambiguous : the Trojan War lasted ten years. That of the Odyssey is also clear : Odysseus took ten more years to reach Ithaca again. But during those ten years, the hero spent only a few months actually navigating. Homer often indicates how many days he travelled : 9 days from Cape Malea to the Syrtian shore, 17 days from Calypso island to the Phoeacians', for instance. From a nautical point of view one must therefore understand the Odyssey as the narration of travels with multiple episodes, stopovers of various length, following more or less known routes. The expedition is concerned with three distinct sea zones :
1- the archipelago and coastlines of the Ionian sea that were regularly traveled by merchant ships and warships in Odysseus' and Nestor's times (13th century B.C.).
2- The islands and coasts of the Aegean, well known by Homeric Greeks who traveled across it and knew by experience how Troya commanded the crossing of the Bosphorus.
3- The coasts of the Syrtan Gulf, of the Sicilian Sea, of the Tyrrhenian Sea and the Aeolian Islands (today Lipari Islands). The latter zone was not well known by Greeks at the time of the Trojan War. It was crossed by rare merchant ships, by pirates and adventurers. It was situated at the western border their world and gave access to places inhabited by giants and monsters, nymphs and magicians, creatures, such as the Lotophages, (or Lotus-eaters), Lestrygons, Cyclops and Sirens. The 1999-2001 expedition tries to trace in each of these zones the sea routes followed by Greek sailors as evoked in the Odyssey by interpreting the results of recent historical and archaeological research work in the light of meteorological, hydrographical and social anthropological knowledge.  next
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