Did the Trojan War really happen? Watch

egjoni
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I'm using this question for my EPQ but I'm struggling to find a starting point of my essay and useful evidence to back it up. Would really appreciate some help...

Was told to research what Herodotus says about the Trojan War (found all the stuff about how he thinks Helen was in Egypt and not Troy) but don't really understand how it supports/disproves the war..

If anyone could give me some info about this or any other evidence such as anything in the Iliad (still haven't finished reading the book so haven't found anything in it yet) I'd appreciate it... and if you could give me some references as well if possible that'd be great thanks x
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Andy98
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(Original post by egjoni)
I'm using this question for my EPQ but I'm struggling to find a starting point of my essay and useful evidence to back it up. Would really appreciate some help...

Was told to research what Herodotus says about the Trojan War (found all the stuff about how he thinks Helen was in Egypt and not Troy) but don't really understand how it supports/disproves the war..

If anyone could give me some info about this or any other evidence such as anything in the Iliad (still haven't finished reading the book so haven't found anything in it yet) I'd appreciate it... and if you could give me some references as well if possible that'd be great thanks x
Unfortunately I'm not well versed enough to help on this matter, however you have sparked my interest. Therefore I shall subscribe to this thread and have a look at some of the info that arrives.

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exlibris
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I think you may need to go a little further than just looking at Herodotus...

The issue is that 'the Trojan War' as described by Homer and in other myths very clearly didn't happen. Homer mixes all sorts of time periods and weapons and shipbuilding techniques and all sorts of things like that across hundreds of years. Which raises the question of how did that come about? Was there one poet called Homer who made it all up out of bits of other stories? Was Homer multiple poets who developed a broad oral tradition out of which the story evolved? And what, if anything underlies that story at all?

The first two questions, together, are known as the Homeric Question and you might want to look up the early C20th work of Milman Parry and his son, Adam (try Googling the Parry/Lord thesis). There was a great deal of academic debate in the C20th on this topic.

The latter question is one that was endlessly discussed in the late C19th - look up Heinrich Schliemann and his excavations of Hisarlik. You may well have some doubts about his methods and conclusions (pro-tip - if you don't, you should...). There have been plenty of other excavations there - what does the archaeological record tell you about Troy?

On the Greek side, read about the Myceneans and their Bronze Age culture, and the decipherment of Linear B by John Chadwick. Think about what the archaeology of Bronze Age Greece might be able to reveal about the Trojan War (and does it make a difference if we talk about a Trojan war?) Is there any way to reconcile (your answer to) the Homeric Question with the archaeology from Turkey and from Greece? This is a very open question - serious scholars who have spent their careers thinking about this can and do disagree on the answer.

Finally, I'd suggest a critical turn - what difference does it make if it was true or not? The Greeks simultaneously believed it was true while also acknowledging (at least in part) that the Iliad/Odyssey were fantastical and implausible (look at what Thucydides has to say about it). When you are dealing with myths and legends, what do 'truth' and 'belief' mean anyway - for them and for us?

You asked for references - Michael Wood did an accessible book called, I think, In Search of the Trojan War. There are several chapters of the Cambridge Companion to Homer that give some perspectives on some of these issues. There are biographies of Schliemann available, though I can't think of any offhand. Tracey Cullen's Aegean Prehistory is a good if perhaps now a little dated (and perhaps overly academic for an EPQ?) introduction to the Myceneans. Hopefully that should get you started!

Good luck - it's a fascinating and enormous question to tackle.
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