Talk to state legislators
By Jennifer Barrera - Staff Reporter
The Trojan War has been regarded as myth throughout history, but now there is real evidence to show it isn't all myth, a Highline history professor said at last week's History Seminar.
Even though there are some obvious historical inaccuracies in The Iliad and The Odyssey, they amount to being the best-known story of the Trojan War.
"There's a lot in this that is completely unbelievable," Dr. Teri Balkenende said. "This is less about the Trojan War per-se, and more about the evidence."
The evidence of the Trojan War starts with the rediscovery of Troy in the 1870s.
Followed by the discovery of the Hittite royal archives in 1906.
Lastly, research into both of Homer's epic poems based around the Greek siege of Troy.
"Instead of looking at them as legends, look at the evidence that some portion may have some basis in fact," Dr. Balkenende said.
According to Homer's poems, the Trojan War started with the Spartan king's wife, Helen.
"Helen, we are told, was the most beautiful woman in the Greek world," Dr. Balkenende said.
Because of her great beauty, her father Tyndareus made a deal with the Greek kingdoms that Helen went to, would be "backed militarily," Dr. Balkenende said.
Paris Alexander, a Trojan, claimed to have the backing of the goddess Aphrodite to pick any woman he wanted as a wife and subsequently abducted Helen and thus started the Trojan War.
"The Greeks themselves absolutely believed that these stories were true," Dr. Balkenende said. "This is what makes Greeks, Greeks… which speaks to the idea that this is their bible."
During the Renaissance, the story of the Trojan War was discredited as just a story until 1873.
Heinrich Schliemann, an archeologist, found the city had been layered into nine different cities, the city was rebuilt over the top of itself several times.
Unfortunately, Schliemann blew through the city with explosives and even smuggled treasure he found at Troy out of the Ottoman Empire.
However, signs of conflict that were found at the city as well as the discovery of two rivers that were referenced by Homer lead many to believe that this city really is Troy and that the Trojan War really did take place.
The discovery of the Hittite royal archives in 1906 has led historians closer to the truth of what happened at Troy.
These archives seem to talk about some of the same people and events that take place in the Iliad such as the reference to King Alexander of Troy, as well as the correlation between records of the city being sacked and the archaeological evidence found there.
"All of this is still speculative. We haven't found any smoking gun that there was a Trojan war," Dr. Balkenende said. But she also said that "we are 99 percent sure."
The next History Seminar will be Marketing Apartheid, which will be about how South Africa has turned its history of racism into tourist attractions. Marketing Apartheid will be presented by Jennifer Jones on Nov. 29.