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Trojan War

Essay by review  •  March 5, 2011  •  Essay  •  2,075 Words (9 Pages)  •  1,365 Views

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"There is no historical basis for the Trojan War, the location of Troy is debatable and therefore there is little conclusive evidence to support the Iliad"

For years the ancient story of Troy and the epic Trojan War has sparked dispute among archaeologists. Did it really happen? Was there a troy like the one Homer describes? What caused it? Historians are today still trying to prove the existence of troy and the Trojan War.

Our main source of interest in troy and the Trojan War is the Iliad. It is an account of the war, describing the events and people associated with it. It was written by Homer, the Greek bard who lived approximately 400 years after the war is said to have occurred. Our knowledge of Homer is very little and it is unknown whether he was a single person or a group of authors. He described Troy as being a colossal city of great wealth with enormous walls protecting it. The war lasted for 10 years, with the Iliad accounting for 55 days of it.

The Iliad cannot be taken on face value. It is littered with metaphors and inaccuracies. It is nonetheless an extremely useful piece of evidence that holds a foundation of truth.

An example of one of the inaccuracies in the Iliad is in Homer's description of Troy. He details the buildings present, naming a temple of Athena, who was a Greek goddess, a temple of this god would not be present in a town such as Troy. Instead of describing Troy he described an ancient Greek city.

Despite its flaws, the Iliad is still considered an accurate piece of evidence, and provides a story of human experience that has lasted the ages.

The reason the Trojan War story has lasted so long is because of its universal appeal. It has elements that appeal to everyone; it combines the features of a well made chick-flick, a forbidden love ending in tragedy, with action packed bloodshed sure to grab the attention of the lads.

The location of Troy is believed to be in North-West Turkey at the mound of Hissarlik. It was discovered by wealthy archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann in 1870. There are differing views on Schliemann and his believability. He is thought to be a romantic man searching to find truth in his boyhood obsession, yet he is also believed to be a liar and a fraud. He began excavating in the hope of finding Homer's Troy. When he was unhappy with his findings and about to stop financing the dig something remarkable happened. Schliemann discovered a trove of treasure of inestimitable value in level 3 which he called Ð''Priam's Treasure'. This discovery gave credibility to the Trojan War and it was beginning to be seen as a possible event, but when Schliemann documented his find he mentions his wife Sophie being at his side as he made the discovery. In actuality Sophie was in Athens at the time. Schliemann's dishonesty made him seem untrustworthy and people questioned whether his treasure was authentic.

At the beginning of his excavations, Schliemann dug a large trench into the mound of Hissarlik in the hope of encountering remnants of great monuments and buildings. This destructive way of excavating damaged much of the layers and walls. This has made it difficult for other archaeologists following on with excavations and study, and a large amount of evidence has been lost. When this trench was dug, Schliemann discovered not one massive settlement of troy, but ten layers of settlements built upon one another dating from 3000B.C. up until 1400 A.D.

The 6th layer found at Hissarlik is now considered to be Homers' Troy. It was the strongest and largest settlement in the Bronze Age timeframe, and has a fortification wall surrounding the Citadel, and a ditch around the entire lower city. When this level was discovered it was thought to be too small to be troy. The walls surrounding the Citadel were thought to be the great walls surrounding the entire city. They indicated that the town was miniature and insignificant and did not match Homers description. A war of as long and bloody as the Trojan War would not have been fought over a town this petty. Recent archaeological excavations however have made us think differently. They show that there was a deep ditch which circled a lower settlement, big enough to accommodate for approximately 4-8 thousand inhabitants. A chariot ditch surrounding Troy proves a logical explanation as chariots were used commonly in enemy attacks. This ditch adds immense size to what we believe is the layer of Troy. It is now thought to be fifteen times bigger than previously thought.

There are 2 destruction levels in the mound dating to the late Bronze Age. The second contained arrowheads which indicate that destruction was caused by an attack rather than by earthquake or natural disasters. There are also damaged and unburied skeletons in the streets which confirm a raid of some sort.

There is a multitude of theories on how the Trojan War supposedly began. The Iliad insists that the war was fought over the possession of Helen. Helen was the epitome of beauty and charisma, and was considerably wealthy. When she left Greece to be with Paris, Menalaneus was furious, and called upon his brother Agamemnon to wage war on Troy and win back Helen, for both himself and his land. This theory makes an excellent story but unfortunately it is nothing more than just that. A story. The only real evidence we have for Helen being the cause of the war is the Iliad, which is brandished with metaphors on every page. Perhaps Helen, or the idea of Helen, was in itself a metaphor. Greek women refer to themselves as "Helena's", suggesting that Helen was in fact not an individual, but maybe a metaphor for all women stolen during the times of war.

In ancient Hittite clay tablets there are inscriptions describing a dispute over the area we now refer to as Troy. Its dates fit into the Trojan wars timeframe and refer to known personalities such as Alexandros (Paris) and Agamemnon. These tablets are a record of a correspondence between an Akewa (Greek) king and the Hittites, and describe the war as being fought over an area, not a woman.

If Helen existed then she was simply the excuse, used to disguise the political motives behind the war.

Agamemnon it seems to me, must have been the most powerful of the rulers of his day; and it was for this reason that he raised the force against troy, not because the suitors of Helen were bound to follow him by the oaths which they had sworn to TyndareusÐ'...at the 3ime in my opinion, fear played a greater part than loyalty in the raising of the expedition against troy.

THUCYDIDES, the Peloponnesian War (taken from

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