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Old November 18th, 2014, 01:00 PM   #1
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Historicity of the Trojan War


Until the archaeological discoveries by Heinrich Schliemann in 1870, the Trojan War [1194 - 1184 BCE] was thought to be mere legend in the works of Homer and Virgil. When Arthur Evans excavated Knossos in 1900, the idea arose that the Trojan War may have been an actual historical event, perhaps a trade war among rival cities, embellished into an epic by the ancient poets. Knossos was destroyed about the same time as Troy, leading to speculation that Knossos was the Homeric Troy. What is the prevailing theory today --- pure legend or an embellished actual event?
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Old November 18th, 2014, 01:18 PM   #2

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Troy is a deep problem: there have been several "Troys" during many centuries and this doesn't help.

Some of those "Troys" have had superb walls [superb in the perspective of that age, not from our contemporary perspective, to be fair] being good candidate for the city described by Homer.

We can say that:

Troy I was a neolithic village and it existed in early III millennium BCE.
Troy II showed walls and great doors and it existed between 2,600 and 2,200 BCE. According to Schliemann this was the Homeric Troy [if I remember well].
Troy III - IV - V were villages destroyed just after their foundation [so these "Troys" are not good candidates].
Troy VI was a good candidate [between 1,800 and 1,300 BCE], but it seems it had destroyed by an earthquake.
Troy VIIa is the candidate for the legendary Troy according to Blegen who sees in it the Homeric city [we are around 1,300 - 1,150 BCE].

We have to say that the ancient historians agreed with Blegen [they generally indicated the XIII - XII century BCE as the period of the Homeric war].
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Old November 18th, 2014, 02:06 PM   #3

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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlpinLuke View Post
Troy VIIa is the candidate for the legendary Troy according to Blegen who sees in it the Homeric city [we are around 1,300 - 1,150 BCE].

We have to say that the ancient historians agreed with Blegen [they generally indicated the XIII - XII century BCE as the period of the Homeric war].
Note that this Troy is also destroyed, but not by earthquake, but after sack. It is burnt in big scale, with half buried skeletons and arrow heads in the burned level.
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Old November 18th, 2014, 02:25 PM   #4
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There's no general agreement about the historicity of the Trojan War.

I firmly believe that it was a real event embellished over time.
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Old November 18th, 2014, 07:34 PM   #5

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Not very. The Trojan War as we know it is highly embellished and exaggerated from whatever conflict that might have happened. I highly doubt that all the kings of Greece sat outside the walls of a city in Northern Anatolia for some 10 years.

There may have been a conflict between the city states of Greece and those of Anatolia, and the Trojan War may indeed be a crystallized version of that. But as such the historicity of the war itself is quite low. We know Troy existed. We know Mycenae existed. But what he have about the war itself is an exaggeration. Thus the war, as we know it today, is quite ahistorical. A Trojan War, which perhaps formed the basis of the legends might be more so, but since we have almost no direct evidence which war (or wars) formed the basis of the Trojan War, again determining their historicity is quite difficult

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Old November 18th, 2014, 07:44 PM   #6

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Quote:
Originally Posted by delta1 View Post
There's no general agreement about the historicity of the Trojan War.

I firmly believe that it was a real event embellished over time.
Agreed.
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Old November 18th, 2014, 11:59 PM   #7

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As tornada says it is pretty inconceivable everybody spent 10 years sat at Troy, wherever it may be. Until fairly recent times there was always a 'campaigning season' loosely during the summer. Sailing and besieging in the winter would not really be possible.

So if it did happen over 10 years, it must have been an intermittent affair.
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Old November 19th, 2014, 12:45 AM   #8
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It is not much relevant, but in eastern-nother Europe there were 2 seasons of war Summer and Winter. Sumer for usual reasons and winter because frozen rivers and bogs made movement easy, farmers could leave homes for war and grain was stored in villages "ready for new owners."
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Old November 19th, 2014, 12:49 AM   #9
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There are certainly disparate pieces of evidence that suggest there are so-called 'kernels of truth' behind the myth, most notably the archaeology of Troy VII - but we also have the Hittite texts and their references to a past conflict between 'Wilusa' and the mysterious people of Ahhiyawa - now generally believed to be Mycenaean Greece.

Wilusa has been etymologically identified with Ilion/Troy, so the suggestion is that there was some sort of conflict between Mycenaean Greeks and an Anatolian city that later came to be known as Troy - and this is the seed that later give rise to the Trojan myth. I like the theory, but the specifics of the Trojan story are certainly mythologised, though some remnants may have carried through such as names (there are references to an Alaksandu in the texts, which has been linked with Alexander/Paris - other links have been suggested, but they get rather convoluted in my view).
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Old November 19th, 2014, 01:20 AM   #10
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I understand that evidence is not overwhelming, but if I remember right Heinrich Schliemann found his Troy by believing Iliad as Bible. He found rivers and springs mentioned in battle scenes and when started to dig found impressive city some gold etc. This would point out that Iliad may be quite close to reality (at least some parts of it).
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