There is both considerable and doubtful archaeological and written evidence to support the occurrence of the Trojan War. Various sources have referred to a great war occurring in the 13th century involving the Greek city Mycenae and the flourishing independent city of Troy. The discovery of archaeological evidence by various archaeologists such as Schliemann, Dorpfeld and Korfmann support the theory that the war did in fact occur, expelling the uncertainty over Troy’s significance. In addition to this, there is much evidence to confirm Mycenae’s motive and capability in war. However, the unreliability of The Iliad places historical doubt on Homeric Troy. But although there are various inconsistencies in the evidence to support Homeric Troy, the existence of the Trojan War itself is indisputable.
Korfmann’s more modern research helped to eject all reasonable doubt placed on Homer’s Troy’s significance. The city was described as a bustling trade centre due to its primary location. Troy itself was a coastal city, allowing easy trade through ships coming across the Black Sea. This primary geographic location gave Troy much control over the Dardanelles, benefitting the city economically. Furthermore, magnetic imaging surveys of the fields below the citadel by Korfmann provide evidence of a lower settlement and a deep ditch, indicating that Troy was in fact fifteen times larger than previously thought. This discovery along with its primary geographic location increases the probability that Troy would have been an object of desire and likely target for potential empires. This provides a liable motive for the Mycenaeans for the Trojan War and rejects the previous idea that Troy was an unimportant, insignificant city, providing a plausible reason for the Trojan War.
Mycenae was a powerful city during the 13th century. It is evident that Mycenae was a prosperous, flourishing civilization. As described by Homer, Mycenae was “rich in gold”. After his pursuits in Troy, Schliemann excavated the well-known site of Mycenae and found various pieces of evidence to support Homer’s observations. This included what Schliemann named “The Mask of Agamemnon” which was hewn in gold. Though further research on the mask revealed it to be a lifetime before Agamemnon’s time, the mask nonetheless put forward the idea that Mycenae was an economically thriving city, capable of providing for itself in the event of war. Further evidence for Mycenaean warfare includes the decline in Mycenaean pottery in Troy and other western cities. This would most likely be due to a decline in Mycenaean industries and overseas trade because of the focus on warfare. In addition to this, the Hittite Records reveal tensions between the Hittites and the Ahhiyawa, who were thought to be the Mycenaeans.
These pieces of archaeological and written evidence establish that the Greeks had the power and resources to rage war on Troy, supporting the idea of the Trojan War. Close assessment of the stratification of Troy also proves that a war could have occurred. The nature of Troy VI, according to Dorpfield was the most similar to Homeric Troy. Troy was described as a grand city that was well-walled and referred to it as the City of Gold, suggesting it had a flourishing trade industry. Homer also mentioned a description of the Great Tower of Iilios and Troy’s triumphant horses. Troy VI, as examined by Dorpfield, possessed the same high-quality angular walls that Homer had described in the Illiad. There was further evidence of Mycenaean pottery, confirming its thriving trade. Dorpfield also found evidence of a citadel with towers of 200 by 150 metres and various strong horse bones. Blegen had previously claimed that Troy VI was most likely destroyed by an earthquake, however, an examination of Troy VIIa disproves this theory.
Troy VIIa was a city that was radically different from Troy VI. The city was evidently poor, with most of the housing made of poor materials. Troy had been subject to various earthquakes before Troy VI and was able to recover. The inability to recover from another earthquake suggests that the damage was not caused by an earthquake but a war that eliminated the ruling class, providing substantial evidence for the Trojan War. The parallels between Troy VI provide, along with the mystery surrounding the rebuilding of Troy VIIa suggest that Troy VI could have been the possible setting for the Trojan War. Homer’s “The Iliad”, though seen as a major source in Greek and Trojan history, is however an unreliable source due to the many inconsistencies in what is essentially a story. “The Iliad” is effectively a myth. It utilizes various aspects of Ancient Greek religion, including the involvement of Aphrodite in Paris’ possession of Helen. The existence of Gods and other mythological elements in the source makes it impossible for the Iliad to be completely reliable.
In addition to this, there has been much speculation towards the theory that the Iliad was an amalgamation of oral stories. The Iliad was written around 800 years after the actual war, making it impossible for a totally reliable recount of the war. The story was most likely a collection of accounts that were passed on from generation to generation. Though the physical evidence actively supports the existence of a war, the accumulation of the mythological elements and the unreliability makes it impossible for historians to determine that the war was the exact same war described by Homer. The various pieces of evidence, both written and archaeological provide substantial reasoning for the existence of a war occurring in Troy during the 13th century.
However, modern historians can never be completely sure that the story that Homer provided in the Iliad was precise due to the holes that appear in the story and the evidence. The description of both the war and the reason behind the war became far too romantic to believe as time passed; a dispute over a woman would have been believable in the past but because historians began to look upon the Iliad realistically, they have been able to identify the inconsistencies in the story. These inconsistencies in the evidence help to disprove the events describe by Homer but nonetheless, the existence of the Trojan War itself is indisputable.