ANCIENT HISTORY troy essay final

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How do history, archaeology and science contribute to the investigation of the past?

All three strands of enquiry; history, archaeology and science are components that are essential in gaining a broader knowledge of the past. In the investigation of Troy, historical evidence such as Homers Iliad and the Hittite Texts, along with archaeological evidence of Calvert, Schliemann, Blagen and Korfmann’s excavations, combined with the use of developing science technology such as chemical analysis, high tech sonar devices and molecular archaeology have all complimented each other and assisted historians in gaining a wider understanding of the events that occurred in Troy.

Historical evidence by itself can only offer historians limited knowledge of the past, the ancient city of Troy was first mentioned in Homer’s Iliad. For centuries, many researchers believed that the Trojan War and its participants were entirely the creation of the Greek imagination. With Homer’s Iliad as a single historical source, it wouldn’t have been reliable to historians studying Troy due to factors of bias in writing and personal opinions; instead it could have been deemed as a myth and disregarded as historical evidence. The Hittite texts, compliment Homer’s Iliad, written in cuneiform script on clay tablets describe the Arzawa land Wilusa, found within the archaeological site of Troy, was a point of conflict between the Hittites and the Ahhiyawa. This provides evidence for researchers studying the origin of the Achaean attack on Ilios, that there is a strong possibility that the Iliad and the events of the Trojan War, indicate actual events of the Late Bronze Age. The Hittite records, provide proof of not only a single Trojan war but rather of multiple wars that were fought in the area of Troy. As a result, the evidence for the Trojan War of Homer’s Iliad coincide with the evidence from the Hittite texts and therefore have provided historians with a new insight into the Greek past.

Archaeology provides evidence to the investigation of the past especially when assisted by historical written sources such as Homer’s Iliad and the Hittite texts. In 1865 a British archaeologist Frank Calvert identified that an abnormal mound of Hissarlik, was the site of ancient Troy. He then gave a self-made millionaire, Heinrich Schliemann permission to excavate, Schliemann truly believed that Homers Iliad was true, not just a mythological story and so he relied on Homer’s descriptions in the poems when excavating for the city of Troy. At the final season at Hissarlik in 1873, Schliemann claimed he had found ‘Priam’s treasure’, consisting of golden pendants, earrings, bracelets, rings and diadems. He dressed his wife in the jewellery to take photos, which was scolded by many historians as he inappropriately and disrespectfully handled thousand year old artefacts for his own selfish reasons. Later it was found that “Priam’s treasure’, although an incredible finding, was from a much later time period, long before the Trojan War. Schliemann was also known for excavating at Mycenae and digging up a grave filled with bodies, he claimed to have dug up Agamemnon’s burial site as he come across a face that was covered by a mask of gold and therefore stated he had ‘gazed upon the face of Agamemnon’. This was then also proved to be a false claim and some historians even believe Schliemann created the mask himself in order to gain fame and fortune. Schliemann remains a controversial figure among historians, accused of manipulating the details of his own life and discoveries to build a misleading picture of his career and achievements. Even though he has made many mistakes through his career, Schliemann (with the help of Calvert and Dorpfield) had located Troy and found evidence of a previously unknown Bronze Age civilisation that had existed. With the guidance of Homers Iliad, Schliemann had not only found the site of the ancient Troy but also many of the artefacts mentioned in the