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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The fortified and mythical city of Troy, 25 Dec. 2012
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This review is from: Troy c. 1700-1250 BC (Fortress) (Paperback)
This Osprey volume in the Fortress collection was an excellent addition to the collection, even if some might find the author slightly "over-enthusiastic" when assuming that the Trojan War really did take place and that he is in fact describing the "Golden Troy" of Homer. Essentially, and however much we (and that includes me!) would want to believe that the legendary epic story is historical, there is little evidence to back it up.

Regardless of the author's assumptions, the book's structure and contents are fascinating and well-documented. The first section (The Story so far) summarizes the discovery and excavations of Troy, starting with Heinrich Schliemann in 1870 and up to nowadays. This is followed by a presentation of the nine cities that were built on Hisarlik and with an interesting - although a bit long - section on mud-brick construction since the higher part of the walls and most of the houses seem to have been built this way.

Perhaps the best part of the book, in my view of course, is the section on the fortifications of Troy VI which is the construction which is the most likely to correspond to the legendary Troy of King Priam. Here the illustrations and the diagram of the fortifications on page 14 provide invaluable help to the reader in understanding how the fortress and the city were build and to what extent the fortifications were sophisticated and carefully thought out, as were those of other cities at the time.

Then there is a "context section" whose purpose is to present what could have been the sources of the city's wealth, largely on the basis of Mycenean tablets found at Pylos and Knossos. Also included in this chapter is a short but interesting description of the Myceneans (sometimes also termed the Acheans). These warlike, brutal and piratical sea-raiders coveted above all the title of "sacker of cities", according to Homer. Hittite written sources and archeological destructions of cities over the period that historically corresponds to the Trojan War tend to confirm these activities. However, as the author does make clear, these were raids and surprise attacks, mostly conducted with a handful of ships, and not the major expedition described in the Illiad.

After that, the reader is treated with a number of theses trying to reconcile Homer with history with regards to the Trojan Horse. Some are more far-fetched than others, perhaps, although there is no hard evidence confirming without any doubt what this device could have been or meant or whether it really existed.

The final section of the book is focused on discussing the reasons for the attractiveness of Troy for potential sea-raiders and for showing that Troy VIH, destroyed around 1250 BC is the most plausible candidate for the Homeric Troy, assuming there is one.

I very much appreciated this volume. For a more balanced and sceptical account of historical Troy, this publication could be usefully supplemented with Trevor Bryce's "The Trojan's and their Neighbours." Both, in my view, are worth five stars as they both present rather superb overviews of the historical and of the legendary city, but in very different and complementary ways.
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JPS
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Top Reviewer Ranking: 80