Digging for Troy<br><font size=2>From Homer to Hisarlik</font>

Digging for Troy
From Homer to Hisarlik

  • 1795

By: Jill Rubalcaba and Eric H. Cline / Illustrated by: Sarah S. Brannen

Fact or fiction?

The fall of Troy is a legend that has been passed down for thousands of generations. It is the tale of an epic war, brave heroes, meddling gods and goddesses, and the face that launched a thousand ships. Although some have questioned whether Troy was ever anything more than a legend, the Iliad has inspired many to go searching for proof of Troy’s existence.

Jill Rubalcaba and Eric H. Cline first offer an abridged version of the Iliad before delving into the many archaeological expeditions at Hisarlik, the modern-day site believed to have been ancient Troy. They recount everything from Heinrich Schliemann’s quest for glory and renown to Manfred Korfmann’s controversial picture of Troy as a political entity with Anatolian—not Aegean—ties. Whether the legend of Troy is fact or fiction remains up to the reader to decide.

Look Inside the Book:

Author & Illustrator Bios:

Jill Rubalcaba, author

Jill Rubalcaba is the author of The Ancient Egyptian World, co-written with Eric H. Cline, The Early Human World, cowritten with Peter Robertshaw, and The Wadjet Eye. Jill lives in Middletown, Connecticut.

Read more about Jill.

Eric H. Cline, author

Eric H. Cline serves as the chair of the department of Classical and Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at George Washington University. He lives in Washington, DC.

Read more about Eric.

Sarah S. Brannen, illustrator

Sarah S. Brannen is the author and illustrator of Uncle Bobby's Wedding (Putnam) and the illustrator of Digging for Troy: From Homer to Hisarlik; and At Home in Her Tomb: Lady Dai and the Ancient Chinese Treasures of Mawangdui. She lives in Massachusetts.

Read more about Sarah.

Awards & Honors:

  • PSLA Young Adult Top 40

Editorial Reviews:

School Library Journal, starred review

Rubalcaba teams up with a noted archaeologist to make sense of the complicated, controversial, contradictory history and remains of the Turkish site called Hisarlik, better known as Troy. It has been intermittently occupied for almost 3500 years, from 2900 BCE to 550 CE, and is often thought to be the Troy written about by Homer in The Iliad. The book begins with a brief but exciting retelling of the Trojan War, giving readers a firsthand appreciation of why generations have been fascinated by this tale, and goes on to profile. Heinrich Schliemann, the German businessman who spent a fortune hamhandedly digging up the site int he 19th century. After Schliemann, generations of archaeologists have excavated Hisarlik; along with the history of the excavations, readers are given an overview of technological developments in the field, from comparative dating using potsherds to noninvasive imaging. Competing theories and conclusions are objectively presented, with supporting diagrams, maps, and models. Source notes and an impressive bibliography attest to meticulous research and guide readers to journal articles, books, and online museum exhibits. Elegant illustrations mimicking Greek red-figure pottery are lovely and appropriate. Extraordinarily readable, gracefully laid out, and speckled with lines from The Iliad, this book will inspire young people interested in solving the mysteries of the past.

Booklist, for example

After an introduction to several men who searched for the remains of Troy and a list giving common pronunciations of Greek names, the book launches into retelling the legend of the ancient city's destruction, based on Homer's The Iliad. Next, picking up the search for Troy's site in the late 1800s, the text recounts the exploits of an eccentric entrepreneur whose methods of uncovering Troy are described as "savage and brutal" as well as a succession of archaeologists who have explored the site since the 1930s, using increasingly advanced technology. Although the writing is clear, it will take careful reading to keep straight the many archaeloogists and the many layers of excavations. Maps as well as period drawings and photos, many in color, illustrate the book. The distinctive pictures accompanying the legend, original watercolor-and-ink pictures that resemble Greek vase painting in style and color, are particularly fine. A time line, bibliography, and source notes are appended. A handsomely designed volume for readers intrigued by archaeology in general or ancient Troy.

The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

Young readers with an established interests in archaeology have probably run across Heinrich Schliemann's arrogant and bumbling assault on the Hisarlik site in his quest to uncover the Homeric city of Troy. (If not, direct them to Laura Amy Schlitz's The Hero Schliemann, BCCB 10/06, posthaste.) Rubalcaba and Cline open with a chapter recapping the legend of the Trojan War and then examine how archaeologists have excavated and interpreted the nine levels of the Hisarlik site over the last two centuries. Schliemann, of course, missed the mark entirely—digging past the likeliest level, unearthing valuable artifacts, and rashly declaring he had found "the" Troy. The next researches, Wilhelm Dörpfeld and Carl Blegen, expected to find evidence of Troy as well but differed in both their approach and their conclusions as to which level evidenced wartime destruction. Most recently, Manfred Korfmann resumed excavations determined to ignore the entire issue of the Trojan War; instead "his interest in Hisarlik embraced the entire occupation—from its Early Bronze Age origins to its Roman decline and fall." Korfmann, however, could not stay removed from the debate, since his findings (made possible by technology unavailable to earlier archaeologists) strongly indicated that Hisarlik was once the site of a significant trading center, an inviting target for attack by Greeks around the estimated time of the Trojan War. The authors are less interested in establishing an actual site for the legend than in exploring how archaeological techniques and expectations can influence conclusions. For middle-schoolers just joining the debate on whether a Trojan War really occurred, this is fundamental reading. Timeline, bibliography, source notes, and index are included.


ISBN: 978-1-58089-326-8

ISBN: 978-1-58089-327-5

Ages: 9-12
Page count: 80
7 1/2 x 10

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