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Troy and the Trojan War

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Troy was considered a mythical city until archeologist Heinrich Schliemann discovered the remains of the city in 1871. Archeological digs have brought up many truths about the history of Troy, and about the Trojan War, which supposedly occurred around 1250 B.C. The war is the subject of the epic poem, The Iliad by Homer, however, there are several theories regarding the existence of Troy and the events of the Trojan War.

In 1871, Heinrich Schliemann, with the aid of geographical clues mentioned in The Iliad, discovered the legendary city of Troy on a coast in North West Turkey (TROY). The remains of the city of Troy were located on the hills of Hisarlik in Anatolia, Canakkale (CÃANAKKALE), and nine layers of the city have been unearthed at the site, each built on top of each other (TROY). Great damage was done to the newer layers of Troy, due to Schliemann lacking in archeological knowledge and his thinking that the oldest layers of Troy were the most important (ThinkQuest. “The). Historical artifacts, such as arrowheads and pottery, were found while excavating the city, and findings show that the city of Troy was bigger than was originally thought (TROY).

Archeologists have questioned which layer of Troy was the city Homer mentioned in his epic poems. There are two cities which fit the time period, and therefore could have been the Troy mentioned in the in The Iliad: Troy VI and Troy VII (Hirst).

Troy VI was a magnificent city, and “was a city like no others” (ThinkQuest. “Troy). The walls of this sixth layer were over four meters thick, about nine meters tall, and was well-fortified than the previous cities (History). Because of the impressive walls, archeologists believed that this was the Troy under King Priam’s rule (ThinkQuest. “Troy). However, Troy VI was possibly destroyed by an earthquake, not by fire, and judging from the lack of bodies unearthed, researchers believe many of the citizens escaped the disaster (ThinkQuest. “The). This fact disfavors the theory that this city was the Troy Homer wrote about in his poem.

The other candidate for the city in The Iliad is Troy VII, which was also a great city (ThinkQuest. “Troy). Archeologists agree that Troy VII is the better choice as the Troy in the poems, as it was supposedly destroyed by fire, like the city in The Iliad (ThinkQuest. “The). Also, the time Troy VII was built is the most fitting for the time period of when the Trojan War occurred (TROY). The war occurred around 1250 B.C., and Troy VII stood from 1275 B.C. to 1240 B.C., according to archeologist Carl Blegen (History). Furthermore, foreign graveyards were discovered near the site where the Greek army may have set up their camp during the war (ThinkQuest. “The).

However, Homer’s Troy is still unidentified, as historians offer several different theories, such as the legend of the Trojan horse is a metaphor for the earthquake which destroyed Troy VI (History).

The “mythical” city of Troy was discovered and may be proved that it existed, but a question still remains about whether the Trojan War really occurred. One theory historians suggest is that possibly, there were more than just one major Trojan War (Riorden). Some historians believe that the “Trojan war” was a mixture of various stories (Trojan War. Trojan), and that it was a “process rather than a single event” (Lovgren). It is believed that there was not a single war that lasted for ten years, and The Iliad was an integrated story of many different wars that occurred. There is evidence indicating that a Trojan war or wars occurred, and that Homer chose to feature several of them in his poems as one long war (Lovgren). Also, regarding the Trojan horse, experts take this episode of the poem as a metaphor for the earthquake which was the downfall of Troy VI (History).

If this is so, then it is likely that Homer might have “taken the description of Troy VI and the destruction of Troy VII, and, using poetic license, blurred the two into one ten-year-long war” (Lovgren). The second theory of the Trojan war is, the cause of the war may not have been the beautiful Helen of Sparta. From the layers of destruction excavated and fortifications of the city walls, it is evident that the ancient city was attacked repeatedly (Korfmann). Therefore, it is likely that the war fought for Helen took place as well. However, it is more realistic to think that this was due to Troy being a major city of trade in the ancient civilization, as it was located near the Dardanelles and the Aegean Sea (Salimbeti). As the location of the city enabled access to many resources and important bodies of water, it was a target for many neighboring kingdoms who wanted wealth and power (Korfmann). The fact that there is no evidence that Helen and Achilles existed could suggest that this abduction of Helen was a story Homer made up to put in his poem instead of the truth (Lovgren). Therefore, the Trojan war could have been fought for political reasons rather than for love.

Archeologists at the site at Troy are excavating the legendary city for clues and evidences of the Trojan War. However, this city may not be the Troy mentioned in Homer’s epic poems. According to economist Iman Wilkens, there was no Trojan War like Homer outlined in The Iliad (Wilkens, Iman Jacob. “Troy). Many inconsistencies of evidence surfaced as the topic was further researched, and could not connect Homer’s Troy and the Troy in Turkey (Wilkens, Iman Jacob. “The Trojan). Facts that show the relation between Troy and the Trojan War actually disproved that there was such war, because Achaeans built a thousand ships to attack Troy when they could have traveled faster over land (Wilkens, Iman Jacob. “The Real). Also, Agamemnon’s journey from Argos to Ithaca supposedly took a full month, when the trip should only take 24 hours in the Mediterranean setting (Wilkens, Iman Jacob. “The Trojan). These descriptions do not fit the Troy excavated in Turkey, but do fit the geographical features of the plains located near Cambridge and the Gog Magog Hills, England (Wilkens, Iman Jacob. “The Real). Bronze weapons and traces of war have been found in the area, indicating the credibility of this theory (“Trojan War – The).

The myth of the legendary city Troy and its war seems to have been proven as a fact after the discovery by Schliemann. However, this excavation revealed that Troy was perhaps located elsewhere, and this led to other mysteries about the reality of the city and the Trojan War. Discoveries are still made today at the site of Troy, as researchers work to clarify the history of Troy and the Trojan Wars.

Works Cited

“CÃANAKKALE Hisarlık-Troy.” CÇANAKKALE — Hisarlık-Troy. Pointsfromturkey.com, n.d. Web. 30 Sept. 2012. .

Hirst, K. Kris. “Hisarlik (Turkey).” Archaeology.about.com. About: Archaeology. Web. 30 Sept. 2012.

“History of Troy.” History of Troy. TRIPOD, n.d. Web. 30 Sept. 2012. .

Korfmann, Manfred. “Was There a Trojan War?” Archaeology.com. Archaeology Institute of America, May-June 2004. Web. 30 Sept. 2012. .

Lovgren, Stefan. “Is Troy True? The Evidence Behind Movie
Myth.”News.nationalgeographic.com. National Geographic, 14 May 2004. Web. 30 Sept. 2012 .

Riorden, Elizabeth H. “Did the Trojan War Really Happen?” TROY. University of Cincinnati, n.d. Web. 30 Sept. 2012. .

Salimbeti, Andrea. “The Greek Age of Bronze – Trojan War.” The Greek Age of Bronze – Trojan War. N.p., 14 June 2012. Web. 30 Sept. 2012. .

“The Greek Age of Bronze – Trojan War.” The Greek Age of Bronze – Trojan War. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Sept. 2012. .

ThinkQuest. “The Tale of Ancient Troy.” Troy. Oracle Foundation, n.d. Web. 30 Sept. 2012. .

ThinkQuest. “Troy.” Troy. Oracle Foundation, n.d. Web. 30 Sept. 2012. .

“Trojan War – The Real Story.” Trojan War. WWW Support Service, n.d. Web. 30 Sept. 2012. .

“Trojan War.” Trojan War. Hellenica, n.d. Web. 30 Sept. 2012. .

“TROY (Ilion).” Ancient Greece – City of Troy. Ancient Greece, n.d. Web. 30 Sept. 2012. .

Wilkens, Iman Jacob. “The Real Story – TROY – In England.” WHERE TROY ONCE STOOD. WWW Support Services, n.d. Web. 30 Sept. 2012. .

Wilkens, Iman Jacob. “The Trojan Kings of England.” Lecture. Lecture by Iman J. Wilkens to the ‘Herodoteans’ Classical Society of the University of Cambridge, U.K., Cambridge. 30 Sept. 2012. Trojan Kings. TRIPOD, 26 May 1992. Web. 30 Sept. 2012. .

Wilkens, Iman Jacob. “Troy in England.” Troy and the Trojan Wars. WWW Support Services, n.d. Web. 30 Sept. 2012. .

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