Monday, March 12, 2012

Nonfiction Monday: Digging for Troy

Digging for Troy: From Homer to Hisarlik Jill Rubalcaba and Eric H. Cline

Hollywood's portrayals of archaeologists, such as the classic Indiana Jones, are about as close to the truth as Mickey Mouse is to a real mouse. Yet Hollywood may have gotten something right in their swashbuckling adventures. Sometimes the fantastical details of a legend really do stir adventurers into action.

Thus begins this interesting look at the legend of Troy, the people who tried to find it, what they discovered, and how archaeological practice has changed over time.

Heinrich Schliemann wanted to be remembered, and what better way to ensure your play in history than by discovering Troy and proving Homer a historian as well as poet? Unfortunately, his way of doing archaeology destroyed a lot. But, in 1870, he started digging up Troy. The site is a layer of cities, built up at different times, and Schliemann bulldozed his way down to where he thought Homer's Troy lay. Ever since then, scholars have followed in his footsteps, sifting through the mess he made, finding the different layers, and arguing over which layer was Homer's Troy and how much of The Iliad is true, how much metaphor, how much legend and flight of fancy.

Rubalcaba and Cline do a great job of explaining changing practices, findings, and conclusions as they trace the history of Troy and of scholarship done on Troy, starting with Schliemann. I especially appreciated how they made each scholar's case for why a different layer of Troy was Homer's. There's excellent use of Grecian urn art as illustrations in the sections explaining Homer's story, and photographs and maps illustrating the sections on archaeology and modern findings.

There's not much here to interest fans of Greek myth or the ancient world, but there is a lot here for fans of archaeology and discovery.

Be sure to check out today's Nonfiction Monday Roundup over at Rasco from RIF!

Book Provided by... my local library

Links to Amazon are an affiliate link. You can help support Biblio File by purchasing any item (not just the one linked to!) through these links. Read my full disclosure statement.

1 comment:

Books4Learning said...

I did a lot of reading on this topic last year. It is so fascinating. There is a great documentary on it too. Thanks for sharing this book.