Review of Iman Wilkens'
"Where Troy Once Stood"
The Trojan War was not fought in Turkey.
So says Iman Wilkens in his wonderfully entertaining historical expose Where
Troy Once Stood. Wilkens says that Troy was in England and that Mycenae was
in France. In his book, Wilkens offers convincing proof of a second viable
interpretation of Homer's Iliad. And in his argument, Wilkens has two main
points of focus:
1) The geography and archaeology of Homer do not allow for a Troy in Asia
Minor or anywhere near the Mediterranean.
2) Most of the place-names that we assume are Greek and Turkish in origin
are, in fact, Celtic.
Let us examine the first point. Troy is said to have had a population of
50,000. The walls of Schliemann's "Troy VII" are not large enough to
encompass a city that large. Homer makes great mention of the ocean, not the
sea. The tradition of calling an ocean and ocean and a sea a sea is long and
historically documented. Add to this Homer's descriptions of tides and
oceanic trees and plants and animals and other features of geography that do
NOT describe Asia Minor or Greece or even the Mediterranean area, and you
have evidence for Wilkens' argument. He goes on to talk about inland water,
specifically rivers and dykes, which are far more common in Europe than in
It is probably clear to the reader by now that Wilkens is taking Homer
almost literally, as if Homer were an eyewitness to the events or, at the
very least, writing from an eyewitness account. Skeptics may claim that
Homer is not to be taken literally; but this claim would serve to undercut
those skeptics' own case. Wilkens also names two other sources, Dares and
Dictys, both of whom were contemporaries of Homer. The accounts of these
two, one of whom was a Trojan, almost exactly match Homer, who is supposedly
Greek. Their descriptions do not match the Turkish landscape, either.
On to the place-names. Of the 14 rivers Homer names as being on the Troad
landscape, all 14 are either still named something extremely similar or are
very close derivatives thereof. And all are in England. Where? Around
Cambridge. After Troy was destroyed, the survivors looked to start a new
major city on a nearby river, the Temese. This was the Thames. The name of
the city was London, which the Romans called Londinium Troia Nova ("New
Troy"). The Celts called it Caer Troia ("town of Troy").
Wilkens locates Mycenae, home of Agamemnon, in France. Agamemnon's kingdom,
Argos, still has remnants in many towns of northwestern France.
The Trojan War, then, was a war between brothers, more or less. Celts fought
against Celts. Why? For supremacy for the Hellespont, or Helle Sea, which
was the North Atlantic and the English Channel.
More inconsistencies in the traditional story of the Trojan War:
The Greek "Mycenaean" civilization died out when the Trojan War was just
The philosophy of Homer is different from Greek beliefs. To the Greeks,
things had two opposing elements, like black and white or good and evil.
Homer's philosophy embraced three simultaenous determinants, a decidedly
Homer says a very large fleet landed on the coast near Troy. Schliemann's
"Troy VII" has no such nearby bay or port large enough to house all the
boats Homer said the invaders brought with them.
Homer says two large war dykes were built. Two such dykes still exist near
Cambridge. No evidence of any huge dykes has been found around "Troy VII."
To Wilkens, the Trojan War was a brotherhood affair, not two civilizations
battling for years over the beauty of a woman. Why, then, does the story of
the Iliad resound with Greek trappings and traditions? Because the Greeks
adapted it and wrote it down. The stories of Homer were oral for many, many
years. It seems almost natural that the Greeks, who believed strongly in
recording things for prosperity, would flavor their renderings of Homer with
their own interpretations. And as with other great works, translations can
take on wholly different meanings when they include the bias of the people
doing the translating. Wilkens says that Homer did not borrow from the
Greeks; rather, the Greeks borrowed from him.
What to make of all this? The arguments put forth in Iman Wilkens' book
Where Troy Once Stood are certainly convincing taken on their face. Read his
prose, interject a few looks at current maps and maps of the time, and you
just might believe that he has a case. Indeed, he does. The Trojan War was
fought in the 12 century B.C. Not many records of that time remain. Wilkens
does a good detective's job of going with what he knows to be true and
extrapolating from there. At the very least, this book should make you think
twice about what you think you know about one of world history's largest and