Saturday, 29 March 2008

Jewish Thessaloniki: "Madre de Israel's" unsung requiem

In a forgotten part of Thessaloniki's rich history lies the fundamentalrole the Jews played in giving the city the importance of the "Jerusalem ofthe Balkans"


The Modiano Market is one of the places that keeps its Jewish name in rememberance

Byzantine metropolis

Thessaloniki (Salonica), capital of Macedonia and Greece's second city, was founded shortly after the death of Alexander the Great. It reached its apogee in Byzantine times, becoming second only to Constantinople. Salonican brothers Cyril and Methodius christened the Slavs and devised them an alphabet. Salonican architects dotted Bulgaria and Serbia with fine churches. Splendid stone-and-brick churches, lost amid a concrete mass of post-war apartments, massive walls and a fort testify to Byzantine glory. Falling to the Turks in 1430, Thessaloniki was savagely plundered, its population slain, its churches converted to mosques. Mosques and bedestens remind us of the five centuries of Ottoman occupation. Yet hardly anything remains of a community that once shaped Salonica more than any other: the Jews. For 420 years, Thessaloniki was predominantly Jewish and Spanish-speaking. Strolling the city, however, it's as if the Jews never existed.

Sephardic Queen

Jews have always been part of Thessaloniki's uninterrupted urban life. Paul addressed its Hellenised Jews in his Epistles; passing through, he preached in the Synagogue. Benjamin of Tudela, a Spanish rabbi who travelled extensively through Southern Europe and Byzantium in the 1170s, mentions a 500-strong Jewish community. Those Jews are called Romaniots, from "Romania," the name Byzantine Greeks used for their state. Few Romaniots survive today in Greece and Turkey, remnants of the most ancient Jewish communities in Europe.

Jews were tolerated in "Romania"; Ashkenazim and Italian Jews fled to Thessaloniki. Yet the tide making it a Jewish metropolis came from Spain, shortly after the Ottoman conquest. In 1492, the Catholic kings Ferdinand and Isabel marked the unification of Spain by expelling all their Jewish subjects who wouldn't convert. About 100,000 left Spain in one of history's most massive Jewish migrations. They became known as Sephardim, from S'farad, Spain's Hebrew name. Sultan Beyazid invited them to settle in his vast realm. This was a gesture dipped in symbolism. The Ottomans, invoking Rome and Constantinople's claims to World Rule, were stretching a helping hand to those Catholicism rejected. The invitation later extended to Spain's Muslims and to Jews expelled from Sicily, Provence, Naples and Portugal.

Symbolism aside, the invitation served practical aims: Turks, nomadic warriors themselves, relied on others to administer and farm their vast empire and develop commerce. The Sephardim were experts in anything from trade to manufacture, farming to printing. They settled in all major ports and commercial centres of the Levant; 20,000 came to Thessaloniki. Thanks to them, Ottoman Jewry became the Diaspora's largest community and Thessaloniki the only city with a Jewish majority of 60 percent. Jews returned their protection with gratitude and loyalty while bringing over many innovations, from the printing press to irrigation systems.

Many newcomers carried their home keys, hoping exile would be temporary. (Some Salonican families still keep keys to some home in Toledo, Tarragona or Cordoba.) They were never to return. Instead, they turned Salonica to a mini Spain-in-exile. They stuck to their tongue, an old form of Castilian mixed with Catalan, Italian and Portuguese and known as Judeo "Espanyol." Each community was grouped around a synagogue, named after their land of origin: Castillia, Aragon, Calabria, Evora, Otranto... Their scriptures were written in Ladino, a medieval Castilian written with Hebrew letters. Thessaloniki's quarters were also given Sephardic names: Rogos, Pulia, Aguda. The Sephardim brought Spanish music and cuisine; they founded Talmudic schools renowned all over the Diaspora. Unsurprisingly, Thessaloniki acquired the name "Madre de Israel" Foreign travellers often baptised it "Jerusalem of the Balkans." A bewildered Spaniard, in a speech before the Athenaeum of Madrid in 1916, spoke of "Spaniards without a country" and of a "Barcelona of the East"

Jews and Greeks: conflicts of interest

The interior of the Ehal, Monasterioton Synagogue

The Sephardim were the only nation invited over, voluntarily settling in the Ottoman realm. Unlike Balkan Christians, they were never subject to forced conversions or "child tax," a notorious practice whereby Christian families were occasionally obliged to hand over a male child as "tax" to the authorities, to be raised as a Muslim. Oppression and humiliation nourished Christian hatred for the Turks; Jews, on the other hand, felt unending gratitude for their saviours from the Inquisition. While the Christians' constant aspiration was the destruction of the Ottoman state, Jews identified with it and its interests to the very end.

Jews and Greeks were commercial rivals. In Thessaloniki the case was settled. The Jews had the advantage of their language skills, ties with and knowledge of the West. As their loyalty to the state was unquestioned, the Porte entrusted them the manufacture of uniforms for the Janissary corps. Soon, Thessaloniki became one of the largest manufacturers and exporters of cloth in the Levant, while remaining the Ottomans' main European port. Manufacture and exports of cloth, as well as the port, remained in Jewish hands. Jews made Thessaloniki the economic centre of the Balkans.

Greeks, about half of the population before the Sephardim tide, dropped to less than a quarter. Next to a Jewish 60 percent, Greeks felt a minority in the city they regarded as theirs. Jews, on the other hand, saw "Salonik" as a Jewish city under the Sultan. They weren't a minority and didn't act like one; quite unlike Diaspora Jews, anxious to keep a low profile, they developed an assertive behaviour. Comfortable behind their numbers and economic pre-eminence, they regarded themselves Salonica's masters. They hardly ever bothered to visit Jerusalem, under the same Sultan's realm. To them the New Jerusalem, the Madre de Israel, was Salonica.

Greeks return

In a hotel lobby in Pera, Istanbul, I discuss the fate of Salonican Jewry with visiting Rena Molho, herself Sephardi and the community's most acclaimed historian. "Salonican Jews didn't want Greek rule. It wasn't about fearing Greek anti-Semitism. Jews had had a fairly good deal under Byzantine rule; they knew no organised anti-Semitism existed among Greeks. The reason they preferred Ottoman rule was purely economic: the feared annexation to Greece would deprive Salonica of its Balkan hinterland, turning it to a border town. Borders would hamper economic activity. One must not forget that Salonican Jews earned their livelihood from manufacturing products they sold to the markets in the Balkans and abroad. The Empire's end would mean loss of markets and the end of capitulations, hence loss of tax privileges. More than half of Salonica's Jews were living in dire poverty, relying on communal assistance," she explains. "Maintaining opportunities was crucial"

The city's richest and most cultured were Sephardic. Some of their seashore villas, in an exuberant eclecticism, still survive along Vas Olgas Avenue, once a tree-lined boulevard along Thessaloniki's most affluent suburb. Villa Allatini now houses the Prefecture. Villa Bianca of the Fernandez family and Villa Mordokh serve as galleries. Many studied abroad, in Italy and France, producing celebrated architects and doctors. Yet comfort was a privilege of the few. Much against modern stereotypes on Jewish affluence, travellers mention downtown Jewish quarters as stinking, squalid and miserable.

As the Balkan states allied against the Turks, the Empire's end was imminent. Salonica's Jews campaigned to have Thessaloniki proclaimed "an international city" guaranteed by the Great Powers, against claims by the Balkan states. Internationalisation was seen as the only way to guarantee the Jews' economic position. Greek resentment was expected. Jews would be termed "conspirators" and "foreigners" for decades.

Greeks liberated Salonica on 27 October 1912, during the first Balkan War. Lootings of some Jewish shops by Greek mobs, much condemned in the European press, took place. Yet trouble ended there. "The Greek state adopted a markedly pro-Jewish policy, in order to calm Jewish anxieties and win over Salonica's majority. Foreign powers like Austria, Italy and France started offering passports to Jewish merchants, in an effort to gain indirect influence. The Greeks adopted cautious and pro-Jewish policies," Molho explains. Overall, the transition to Greek rule was very smooth. The Ottoman Zabita (gendarmerie) continued to police the city alongside the new Greek police while the city's Muslim mayor remained in office and the Sabbath a public holiday.

Unhappy end: fire and genocide

Former Jewish properties in the rebuilt fire zones

Greek Thessaloniki retained a Jewish majority until 1922. It was a pluralistic community and favoured a policy of assimilation. "For the first time and due to pro-Jewish policies, the Jews experienced a feeling of citizenship and belonging," Molho stresses. Socialists were the second important group. In this industrial city, Sephardi Avraam Benaroya had founded the "Federacion," a socialist workers' organisation joining mostly Jews. The Federacion would form the nucleus of the Greek Communist Party (KKE). Right wing Greeks would for decades brand communism as a Jewish product, even though the majority of Salonican Jews were conservative. In the absence of anti-Semitism, Zionism remained marginal. "Which Palestine are you talking about? Palestine's here," the saying went.

The first calamity befell the community in 1917 while the city was inundated by allied troops fighting in the First Balkan War. A fire devastated downtown, wiping out the Jewish quarters and Synagogues. Jews lost their homes, their shrines, their records, the priceless Torah scrolls and artefacts their ancestors had carried from Spain. "Accusations that the Greek state was behind the fire are unsubstantiated. The strict legislation on rebuilding proves the calamity was an accident," Molho is categorical. "The fire nevertheless provided an excellent opportunity to the authorities to rebuild on a Hellenic ideal," she continues. The Ottoman town and its Jewish core disappeared, replaced by a modern city centre filled with wide boulevards and grand public buildings in a neo-Byzantine eclecticism. This was the largest urban planning project ever undertaken in Greece. As most of downtown was reserved for public buildings, it lost its Jewish character.

The arrival of 100,000 Greek refugees after the Asia Minor disaster made Greeks a majority in town for the first time since 1430. Tension grew between the newcomers and the Jews. The interwar years were marked by a religiously inspired anti-Semitism, culminating in an attack on one of the city's Jewish slums, Campbell, in 1931. Jews fought bravely in the ranks of the Greek army during the Second World War. Yet this did not prevent tragedy: the Germans entered Thessaloniki in 1941, and two years later the 500-year old Sephardic community would end in the crematoria of Germany, Austria and Poland. The city's synagogues were desecrated and the 500,000 tombs of its Jewish cemetery, Europe's largest, bulldozed.

"Entre Mosotros"

Rozy Shaltiel wears the Star of David

Only about 2,000 Jews, an amazing medley of ethnic backgrounds, live in today's Thessaloniki. Each household has spine-chilling stories of suffering, death and courage to narrate. At the community's old people's home, we chat in Spanish with Director Victoria Benuziyo, and my friend Rozy Shaltiel. They are of the last few to be fluent in Judeo Esanyol, a living museum of medieval Spanish. "We speak singing," Victoria alludes to the marked Italian influence on their accent. If I didn't speak Italian and Catalan, I'd have difficulty understanding her. "It was easy for the Nazis to spot who was Jewish and who wasn't. They could tell by the accent," they explain. Victoria was a baby when the Germans arrived. She knows nothing of her father, perished in one of the concentration camps. She hid with a Christian family in Athens. "They changed my name to its Greek version Niki. Every morning before my adopted father went to work, he'd wait for me to come to the doorstep and wish him farewell, 'the Virgin be with you'." Victoria's mother survived and took her to Thessaloniki after the war. Separating from her adopted family was a nightmare. Rozy and her parents survived Bergen Belsen.

"We grew up in a vacuum. No grandmothers, no aunts, no elderly survived the camps. Their traditions, their stories perished with them," Victoria explains. "I'm not religious. But I'm a Jewess to the bone. For me Judaism is a culture, an identity." Her aunt Matica Lizzi with her five children fled to Athens and survived the war selling cigarettes on the streets, hiding some gold for safety. "Every day she'd say, 'The day I'll see our flag raised on the Acropolis, I will distribute my gold to the poor.' Which she did." Rozy's aunt Stella was dating a Christian boy when she was deported to Auschwitz. She survived and had to renounce her faith to marry him (civil marriage wasn't available at the time). "I can only pray in Judeo-Spanish," Rozy confides. "I go to churches and light a candle to my uncle's memory. My prayer goes, En Gan Eden que estes theio Giorgo (may you be in the Garden of Eden, uncle Giorgo)" The two women put some of the blame for anti-Semitism on Jews' aloofness. "One of the typical phrases of Thessaloniki Jews was 'No favles, stamos entre mosotros? (Don't speak; are we among ourselves?). It's a pity people didn't know much about us," they say. Things are different today. "Most young students who come to learn Judeo-Espanyol are Christian. This is indicative," Victoria, who teaches, argues. Books are printed on the cuisine of the Sephardim; CDs with their music sell well.

The community has deep grievances. The campus of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, built on the site of the former Jewish cemetery, which was "ravaged during the war," was donated by the community to the state. Not even one plaque commemorates the fact that auditoria and courtyards stand where once thousands of graves were. "Clara Hirsch donated the Hirsch hospital to the state, on the condition that its name be preserved. Yet the state renamed it Haghia Sophia," laments Rena Molho. Official guides to the city downplay the role Jews played in its history. The names of buildings survive: the Modiano market, the Villa Allatini, the Gatenyo-Florentin and Stein mansions. But do young Salonicans know they were built by, or for, Jews? "It is a myth that the Greeks simply assisted the Jews during the war," Rena says. "Although there's no proof, we're almost convinced it was Greek quislings who asked the Germans to destroy the cemetery. For decades, the municipal authorities wanted to use it as building space. No other Jewish cemetery was destroyed in occupied Europe. And it was Greek Christians, not Germans, who guarded the Jews in the forced labour camps in 1942, where thousands died. " "When we returned from the camp, we found squatters in our house. 'So many died, was it you who had to survive?" they told us. We had to go to court to claim it back," an elderly Salonican says.

Thessaloniki has a complex story, full of shadows and sorrow. "It's such a burden to know we're struggling against time to preserve some memories, but that when we ourselves pass away it will all be erased," Victoria says. "We holocaust survivors are destined to witness the death of Judeo-Espanyol, the death of Jewish Salonica"

Saturday, 15 March 2008

Rewriting history: Not just a Greek sport!!!

We are all aware of the scandal of 2007 where a group of New World Order executers (M. Repousi & Co) decided to rewrite history in Greek schools with the history book of the 6the grade being the primary example. This attempt caused outrage among the locals and an organised opposition resulting finally in the govermentb withdraing the said book. However, it seems that the practice of rewriiting history does not belong exclusive to Greeks but is celebrated in other parts of the world as an attempt to erase from the memory what the NWO does not fancy. Take a look below:

Iraq: teachers told to rewrite history
MoD accused of sending propaganda to schools

Friday, 14 March 2008

Britain's biggest teachers' union has accused the Ministry of Defence of breaking the law over a lesson plan drawn up to teach pupils about the Iraq war. The National Union of Teachers claims it breaches the 1996 Education Act, which aims to ensure all political issues are treated in a balanced way.

Teachers will threaten to boycott military involvement in schools at the union's annual conference next weekend, claiming the lesson plan is a "propaganda" exercise and makes no mention of any civilian casualties as a result of the war.

They believe the instructions, designed for use during classroom discussions in general studies or personal, social and health education (PSE) lessons, are arguably an attempt to rewrite the history of the Iraq invasion just as the world prepares to mark its fifth anniversary.

Steve Sinnott, the general secretary of the NUT, said: "This isn't an attack on the military – nothing of the sort. I know they've done valuable work in establishing peace in some countries. It is an attack on practices that we cannot condone in schools. It is a question of whether you present fair and balanced views or put forward prejudice and propaganda to youngsters."

At the heart of the union's concern is a lesson plan commissioned by an organisation called Kids Connections for the Ministry of Defence aimed at stimulating classroom debate about the Iraq war.

In a "Students' Worksheet" which accompanies the lesson plan, it stresses the "reconstruction" of Iraq, noting that 5,000 schools and 20 hospitals have been rebuilt. But there is no mention of civilian casualties.

In the "Teacher Notes" section, it talks about how the "invasion was necessary to allow the opportunity to remove Saddam Hussein" but it fails to mention the lack of United Nations backing for the war. The notes also use the American spelling of "program".

Addressing whether the MoD should be providing materials for schools, Mr Sinnott said that he did not object, as long as the material was accurate, presented responsibly and contained a balanced view of opinions.

The union has protested to the Schools Secretary, Ed Balls, who has referred the complaint to the MoD. In a letter to Mr Balls, Mr Sinnott said: "I have to say that were the MoD pack to be distributed and followed without the legally required 'balanced presentation of opposing views' there would, in my view, be very serious risk of a finding of non-compliance with section 406 (of the 1996 Education Act) at least.

"I do not doubt that there would be many members of this union who would not accept as 'fact' the assertions made particularly in the Teacher Notes, nor, I think, could some of the assertions made in the Student Worksheet be regarded as non-controversial."

Mr Sinnott reminded Mr Balls that a High Court judge had ruled that the film An Inconvenient Truth, by the Oscar-winning former American vice-president Al Gore, could not be used in schools without teachers counteracting some of the assertions made in it.

Mr Balls sought to distance himself from supporting the material.

He said: "I am sure you are aware my department does not promote or endorse specific resources or methods of teaching for use in schools but I appreciate you drawing this to my attention." Mr Balls added that he had instructed his officials "to take this matter up" with the MoD.

A spokesman for the MoD said the ministry had consulted with interested parties over the proposed lesson plan in order to ensure it had the support of the education community. "We did ask the Stop The War coalition to take part although it refused."

The spokesman added that the programme was "a set of web-based resources" whose use was "completely voluntary".

"We have consulted widely with teachers and students during the development of these products and feedback from schools has been extremely encouraging," he added.

"Teachers and students found them to be valuable and fun resources for applied learning.

"They are designed to support teachers in delivering a whole range of subjects across the national curriculum and its equivalents in Scotland and Wales.

"We are happy to engage with the NUT and we will be writing to them."

Union members say they are also worried that armed forces recruitment fairs in schools glamorise the job by citing exotic countries that recruits will visit but fail to mention that they may be required to kill people.

According to an independent assessment of the MoD's recruitment material by the Joseph Rowntree Trust, however, the material concerned was "very dubious". The trust said it had used misleading marketing with advertising campaigns that "glamorise warfare, omit vital information and fail to point out the risks and responsibilities associated with a forces career".

Mr Sinnott said: "On their recruitment material, it tells what an exotic lifestyle this can be, but it doesn't mention that being in the military involves killing people. These things don't feature as they should in a proper, balanced view of what it is like being in the armed forces."

What the MoD's guide says... and what it omits

* "Iraq was invaded early 2003 by a United States coalition. Twenty-nine other countries, including the UK, also provided troops... Iraq had not abandoned its nuclear and chemical weapons development program". After the first Gulf War, "Iraq did not honour the cease-fire agreement by surrendering weapons of mass destruction..."

The reality: The WMD allegation, central to the case for war, proved to be bogus. David Kay, appointed by the Bush administration to search for such weapons after the invasion, found no evidence of a serious programme or stockpiling of WMDs. The "coalition of the willing" was the rather grand title of a rag-tag group of countries which included Eritrea, El Salvador and Macedonia.

* "The invasion was also necessary to allow the opportunity to remove Saddam, an oppressive dictator, from power, and bring democracy to Iraq".

The reality: Regime change was not the reason given in the run-up to the invasion – the US and UK governments had been advised it would be against international law. Saddam was regarded as an ally of the West while he was carrying out some of the worst of his atrocities. As for democracy, elections were held in Iraq during the occupation and have led to a sectarian Shia government. Attempts by the US to persuade the government to be more inclusive towards minorities have failed.

* "Over 7,000 British troops remain in Iraq... to contribute to reconstruction, training Iraqi security forces... They continue to fight against a strong militant Iraqi insurgency."

The reality: The number of British troops in Iraq is now under 5,000. They withdrew from their last base inside Basra city in September and are now confined to the airport where they do not take part in direct combat operations.

* "The cost of UK military operations in Iraq for 2005/06 was £958m."

The reality: The cost of military operations in Iraq has risen by 72 per cent in the past 12 months and the estimated cost for this year is £1.648bn. The House of Commons defence committee said it was "surprised" by the amount of money needed considering the slowing down of the tempo of operations.

* "Over 312,000 Iraqi security forces have been trained and equipped (Police, Army and Navy)."

The reality: The Iraqi security forces have been accused, among others by the American military, of running death squads targeting Sunnis. In Basra, the police became heavily infiltrated by Shia militias and British troops had to carry out several operations against them. On one occasion British troops had to smash their way into a police station to rescue two UK special forces soldiers who had been seized by the police.

* "A total of 132 UK military personnel have been killed in Iraq."

The reality: The figure is 175 since the invasion of 2003. A British airman died in a rocket attack at the airport two weeks ago despite British troops not going into Basra city on operations. Conservative estimates of the number of Iraqi civilians killed since the beginning of the invasion stand at around 85,000.

* "From hospitals to schools to wastewater treatment plants, the presence of coalition troops is aiding the reconstruction of post-Saddam Iraq."

The reality: Five years after "liberation", Baghdad still only has a few hours of intermittent power a day. Children are kidnapped from schools for ransom and families of patients undergoing surgery at hospitals are advised to buy and bring in blood from sellers who congregate outside.

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

The antiHellenic work of the Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (O.T.E.)

COSMOFON sponsor of the FIS Snowboard Cup 2008 in Mavrovo

Continuing the tradition to support sport activities, COSMOFON in cooperation with the Macedonian Ski Federation once again sponsored the FIS Snowboard Cup 2008.
On January 26 – 27, for the first time in the country the snowboard competition in slope style (free style) was held in Mavrovo, with participation of fifteen domestic snowboarders as well as snowboarders from Slovenia, Bulgaria, Croatia and Serbia.
With this, COSMOFON continues to support sport events, thus contributing to the development of sports in the country and approximation of the local with the international sport scene.
Και για να μην υπάρχει και καμιά παρεξήγηση για το ποιά είναι η COSMOFON
για μια ακόμη φορά δείτε τι γράφουν στο "about us"
The first call through the network of COSMOFON took place on May 16, 2003.
COSMOFON commenced its commercial operation on June 12, 2003.
COSMOFON’s network codes are 075 and 076.
COSMOFON is a company owned 100% by the OTE Group, the leading telecommunications group in Greece and the largest integrated telecommunications operator in Southeastern Europe. The vision of OTE is to rank among the top telecommunications companies in Europe.
COSMOFON is a company managed by COSMOTE, leading mobile operator in Greece with the fastest growth in Europe. Cosmote commenced its work in 1998 and has significantly influenced the telecommunications market in Greece.
και φυσικά οι χορηγίες για τους "Μακεδόνες" (the Macedonian representative, Macedonian National Theatre, Macedonian music, Macedonian Philharmonic Orchestra, Macedonian basket, Macedonian cities, Macedonian audience, famous Macedonian producers...και ότι άλλο μπορείτε να φανταστείτε με το MACEκάτι μπροστά) του COSMOTE έχουν και συνέχεια....
από παλαιότερες επιτυχίες της "Ελληνικής" εταιρίας...
προωθήστε το...αξίζει τον κόπο να διαφήμισουμε το αξιομνημόνευτο έργο αυτής "Ελληνικής" εταιρίας...

Ancient Tomb Found on Greek Island

foreign, Wednesday March 5 2008 By NICHOLAS PAPHITIS

Associated Press Writer

ATHENS, Greece (AP) - Road construction on the western Greek island of Lefkada has uncovered and partially destroyed an important tomb with artifacts dating back more than 3,000 years, officials said on Wednesday.

The find is a miniature version of the large, opulent tombs built by the rulers of Greece during the Mycenaean era, which ended around 1100 B.C. Although dozens have been found in the mainland and on Crete, the underground, beehive-shaped monuments are very rare in the western Ionian Sea islands, and previously unknown on Lefkada.

The discovery could fuel debate on a major prehistoric puzzle - where the homeland of Homer's legendary hero Odysseus was located.

``This is a very important find for the area, because until now we had next to no evidence on Mycenaean presence on Lefkada,'' excavator Maria Stavropoulou-Gatsi told The Associated Press.

Stavropoulou-Gatsi said the tomb was unearthed about a month ago by a bulldozer, during road construction work.

``Unfortunately, the driver caused significant damage,'' she said.

She said the tomb contained several human skeletons, as well as smashed pottery, two seal stones, beads made of semiprecious stones, copper implements and clay loom weights. It appeared to have been plundered during antiquity.

With a nine-foot diameter, the tomb is very small compared to others, such as the Tomb of Atreus in Mycenae, which was more than 46 feet across and built of stones weighing up to 120 tons.

But it could revive scholarly debate on the location of Odysseus' Ithaca mentioned in Homer's poems - which are believed to be loosely based on Mycenaean-era events. While the nearby island of Ithaki is generally identified as the hero's kingdom, other theories have proposed Lefkada or neighboring Kefallonia.

Stavropoulou-Gatsi said the discovery might cause excitement on Lefkada but it was too soon for any speculation on Odysseus.

``I think it is much too early to engage in such discussion. The location of Homer's Ithaca is a very complex issue,'' she said.