The legend of the Trojan wars with its heroes like Achilles, its tale of a wooden horse, and Helen the most beautiful woman in the world has fascinated people for thousands of years. The historical evidence from archaeology and modern scholarship has been unable to conclusively prove accounts of the war left to us by poets such as Homer. Written evidence from the Hittites tablets suggests it’s possible that the Greeks attacked Troy, whilst the field research of greek archaeologists Schliemann and Korfmann provide physical evidence that Troy was a wealthy and substantial location. However, given the fact that neither the Greeks nor the Trojans were a literate society at the time, the search for concrete proof is unlikely to be fulfilled.
The city of Troy has been kept alive through many generations but many thought of this ancient town as just a myth. It has been the excavations carried out by many archaeologists including, Frank Calvert, Heinrich Schliemann, Wilhelm Dorpfeld, Carl Blegen, and Manfred Korfmann, all who have contributed to the discovery of this prolific city. It has been speculated that the ancient city of Troy is now known as the modern town of Hissarlik. Hissarlik is located in the Northwest of Turkey in close proximity to Gallipoli. This town is located at the mouth of the Dardanelles, a waterway that would have given the Trojans many wealth and riches as they would have been in charge of most of the trade within the country. Due to a low amount of primary sources, we can not fully support the idea of the Trojan War from the Greek myth perspective. Though there are vast amounts of sources that suggest the geographic location of Troy is that of the modern town of Hissarlik. The evidence suggesting this theory can be taken from Homer’s epic poems the Iliad and the Odyssey which suggest a similar geographic location to Hissarlik as well as records kept by the Hittite empire. These records are known as the Hittite tablets and in their writing, it states that villages on the coast of the Aegean sea in Turkey were being raided by the Mycenaean Greeks during the time period that The Trojan War would have occurred. This evidence supports the fact that the Greek civilization in this era were attacking cities around where Troy is thought to be located. Though these raids can also be explained from an economic perspective, competition for trade due to the strategic position that the Trojans had acquired, they were in control of the Dardanelles which meant that they controlled what entered from the Aegean sea to the Black sea.
Archaeology has played a major role in defining whether or not the Trojan war did occur. Excavation by the German archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann has helped to solidify this idea, he used the words of Homer to depict what a modern city was that of Ancient Troy. In 1871 Schliemann began excavation on a man-made mound in the city of Hissarlik, his idea when completing the excavation was that the era he was digging for would be the lowest layer in the mound. During the excavation, he found many strata levels or cities. Schliemann came to the conclusion that the second last strata level was the one that Homer spoke about in his epic poems. This level had been destroyed in a drastic fire that wiped out the town, this evidence supports the myth because as stated in Homer’s epic poems the Greeks burnt Troy to the ground. Another significant find in this excavation were a vast amount of treasures including, gold, silver, vases, gold bracelets, headbands, earrings, diadems, electrum, bronze, and the most important find which became known as “Jewels of Helen”. These riches became known as the ‘Treasure of Priam’. King Priam is known as the last king of Troy before its downfall by the hands of the Greeks. This was important to Schliemann because by identifying the riches as the ‘treasure of Priam he had drawn the line between fact and myth. He made this correlation as he thought the jewelry fit into the time period where the Trojan war was thought to have occurred. This archaeological find if correct proved that Troy was in fact a wealthy country, this may be due to its strategic placement and its control of the trade routes. The archaeological finds by Heinrich Schliemann including ash and treasure have provided physical evidence that helps to prove that the Trojan War is not a myth but in actuality, it did occur.
After Schliemann finds another archaeologist by the name of Manfred Korfmann also set out to provide truth to the ancient myth. From 1982 to 1987 Korfmann excavated at Besik Bay in Turkey, a few kilometers from Hisilark the depicted location of Troy. Korfmann is one of the most recent archaeologists that has found evidence at the site. Korfmann was able to find the greater dimensions of Troy and also found evidence that suggests a battle did indeed occur. The evidence found consisted of arrowheads and sling shots at the site. As well as a wide ditch that was placed around the citadel, he believes that this was used to stop enemy chariots. These finds provide insight into the conflict that occurred in this city as well as help to provide physical evidence to prove the Trojan War did occur.
Though there is evidence that suggests that the Trojan War did in fact occur, this includes The Hittite tablets, Priam’s Treasure, Ash, Strata levels, and Homer’s epic poems. We can not conclusively say that the Trojan war did happen due to a lack of primary sources. The sources provided do show that some sort of war did occur but we can not accurately depict that it was the Trojan war. Due to a lack of key evidence like the Wooden horse, written sources from the time or skeletons we can not certainly say but sources like the Hittite tablets and Priam’s treasure do provide truth to this ancient myth.