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"Trojan War Woes" Topic

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03 Jan 2017 11:07 p.m. PST
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Guthroth28 Oct 2014 7:53 a.m. PST

A few weeks back I set out to collect and paint up a Trojan army, so I've been trawling my books, army lists and other on-line sources before I make a start. Comparing the army lists for the Mycenean/Trojan period with the other sources I can't help feel I've uncovered a significant inconsistency.

Troy is now identified as the city known to the Hittites as Willusa. Founded in 3000BC and in continuous habitation until about 1183 BC when it burned down. This destruction is attributed to the Trojan war, but could be for another reason.

Established at about the same time the Egyptians were building the Great Pyramids, Troy was apparently a prosperous and stable place around 1900BC. Around this time it was subject to a mass migration, probably set off by the emerging Hittites to the east. Cities to the east of Troy were destroyed, and although Troy was not burned, the next period shows a change of culture indicating a new people had taken over the city. This new culture persisted until about 1183 BC when the city was burned and abandoned with bodies and weapons left in the ruins.

The only army lists I can find for Troy relate to the Trojan war, and in all cases they are depicted as mirrors of their Achaian opponents with a couple of tweaks to account for unusual units mentioned in the Illiad. As Phil Barker observes in his DBMM list preamble – "it is now thought to be a heavily embroidered account of an actual conflict between Achaian Greeks and the similar culture of Troy/Ilium/Ilion on the west coast of Asia Minor

The problem is that apart from the Illiad I can find no support for such a representation. There simply is no evidence to support the idea that an Achaian culture had replaced the one established by Anatolian migrants in 1900BC. One must also consider that there is firm evidence that by the 13thC BC Willusa was either an important ally or vassal state of the Hittite empire.

Great City dominating the region – Yes.
War ending in destruction by fire around 1180BC – Yes.
Achean vs Trojan – Entirely plausible
Achean vs Achean – No evidence at all ….

The accepted view of the Trojan War has changed in the last couple of decades, and I cannot help but wonder if our current cherished army lists are somewhat out of date. Certainly when looking at the actual known history of the region, it is far more likely that the Trojans would have fought and been organised in a fashion very similar to their allies/overlords the Hittite Empire.

I feel obliged to ask is it possible that what made sense in army lists researched 30 years ago has not been updated in the light of modern understandings ?

Is it possible that all the army lists being generated by new rules manufacturers are blindly following the WRG research of 30 years ago ?

Any comments on this are welcome, especially if you can direct me to any archeology that supports an Achaian culture being in place at the time Troy was burned.


RavenscraftCybernetics28 Oct 2014 8:22 a.m. PST

Finding sources to support your idea will be diificult at best. Consider this: Until it was actually uncovered, Troy was strictly mythological.

Guthroth28 Oct 2014 8:30 a.m. PST

Ah, but I'm not looking for more sources to support my case – I'm looking for sources that contradict it. The archeology I've found support my case, and as far as I can see none supports the current Wargaming position.

I also accept that our understanding of 30 years ago was based on a semi-mythological fable and so a clash between similar Achaian cultures was how we saw the war, but that position is only supported by the Illiad, not the facts on the ground that have emerged in the recent decades.

Homer would probably be the first writer to represent an historic war in the terms of what to him was the current method of fighting, be isn't the last.

It may not be a popular case to put, but that's archeology for you.


Coyotepunc and Hatshepsuut28 Oct 2014 8:52 a.m. PST

Here's the thing about wargaming with armies for which there are significant gaps in knowledge: you can take a given idea and run with it. Were they Acheans? Maybe, but probably not. Were they Hittites? Probably, but maybe not. If *I* were gaming the Trojan war, my Trojan army would feature Hittite figures, with a unit of Amazons with a Skythian look as either bows or cavalry. Other people like their Trojans as Acheans. As long as you are using the list balanced for the game rules, the figures used should please your beliefs about gaming a mythological or legendary conflict.

Roderick Robertson Fezian28 Oct 2014 9:01 a.m. PST

Do you want to play gritty, historical wars involving Troy, or do you want to play "The Trojan War"?

A gritty, historical war depends on whatever archeological research has been done, and will probably change over time as new finds come to light (and new pet theories get aired).

"The Trojan War" is a fantasy war based on Homer and the other authors that added to the story. It is a war between Achiains and Achaian-like Trojans. And the Gods. You could even play it with Greek Hoplites (heck, Hollywood does, so why not?).

And for bonus points, you can play Heracles' sacking of the city a generation before…

Who asked this joker28 Oct 2014 9:06 a.m. PST

These identifications were rejected by many scholars as being improbable or at least unprovable. However, Trevor Bryce championed them in his 1998 book The Kingdom of the Hittites, citing a piece of the Manapa-Tarhunda letter referring to the kingdom of Wilusa as beyond the land of the Seha River (the classical Caicus and modern Bakırçay) and near the land of "Lazpa" (Lesbos). Recent evidence also adds weight to the theory that Wilusa is identical to archaeological Troy. Hittite texts mention a water tunnel at Wilusa, and a water tunnel excavated by Korfmann, previously thought to be Roman, has been dated to around 2600 BC. The identifications of Wilusa with Troy and of the Ahhiyawa with Homer's Achaeans remain somewhat controversial but gained enough popularity during the 1990s to be considered majority opinion.

From here…that wonderfully accurate source. wink

I don't much care either way. Certainly, Homer ascribes Greek names and culture to both sides of the Trojan war so a Hittite city would seem unlikely. Also there seems to be far more similarities to the Illiad's description of the city at Hisarlık than at the Hittite site.

That said, it will surprise some gamers but the good ones will shrug and try your idea on for size anyway. What I am saying is that it is a semi-historical war that we have imperfect knowledge about so why not use the Hittite ideas…

Personal logo Doms Decals Sponsoring Member of TMP28 Oct 2014 9:08 a.m. PST

Must admit I've always thought of the Trojans as basically Hittites – as others have wisely said, the question becomes whether you want to game the Trojan war, or game the Iliad….

evilgong28 Oct 2014 2:19 p.m. PST

Hi there


And for bonus points, you can play Heracles' sacking of the city a generation before…


And indeed the Amazons' sack as well, a few more fictional lootings of Troy and we'll get close to number of times the archaeoligists say the place was rebuilt.

David F Brown

Personal logo ochoin Supporting Member of TMP28 Oct 2014 4:13 p.m. PST

Can I offer slightly different approaches?

Are you a Fantasy gamer or an Ancients gamer?

If the former, go Achaeans Vs Achaeans & have Olympian gods, Ethiopes & Amazons.

If the latter, consult all available sources & think Mycenaeans Vs Hittites.

Please note: I am not biased against either approach. It just needs to be what you want.

A good source:

Ivan DBA28 Oct 2014 4:16 p.m. PST

The Illiad itself is evidence. And archaeology has borne out some of the details in it, such as the figure-eight and tower shields, the boar tusk helmet, and of course, Troy itself.

Even if Troy was inhabited by "Anatolians," that does not preclude them adopting Achaiean cultural aspects over time.

rvandusen Supporting Member of TMP28 Oct 2014 5:02 p.m. PST

The way I would portray a Trojan army was through a mix of Sea Peoples, Achaean, and and Hittites. The Sea Peoples would represent the various warriors from the Aegean coast of Anatolia – kilts seem more practical for a nautical folk than long robes – the Achaean figures would be either colonists, renegades, or those under Greek influence, and the Hittites would represent the hill peoples of central Anatolia.

Archaeological evidence shows that this region had many influences during the Late Bronze Age. It seems reasonable to seem Ilium with a mixed society.

Crazyivanov28 Oct 2014 6:22 p.m. PST

It would likely be a mix of both. The Hittites could apparently draw on the Achaeans as allies, and the most likely source would be Achaeans or Achaean like people on their own sea coast as opposed to overseas Hessian types.
Of course then the question would come to demographics of the force: Is Troy a largely Anatolian style city ruled by Achaean or semi-Achaean rulers, or is it a more Achaean city with a ruling class that clings to its Hittite roots?
Either could make for a good army.

platypus01au28 Oct 2014 6:32 p.m. PST

Completly agree with Crazyivanov.


Ivan DBA28 Oct 2014 7:12 p.m. PST

Wilusa was apparently part of the former kingdom of Arzawa, which was Carian or Lydian in ethnicity or culture, not Hittite. It may have later been a part of the Hittite empire, but that does not necessarily mean its people looked or fought like Hittites. Given the relative proximity to the sea, and the regular contact with Achaean culture that would imply, the Wilusans could well have adopted a fighting style and equipment that owed more to the Achaeans than the Hittites. Absent any archeological evidence to the contrary, the most likely scenario is that the Illiad is more or less right.

Queen Catherine28 Oct 2014 7:36 p.m. PST

one thing I don't get from your post – is there anything preventing you from gaming the army as you see it? so just game a hittite army and call it "Trojan" and / or model it with such figures as you deem appropriate.

not that I'm criticizing your challenge of the wargame mentality or lists. Such things are always worth doing when done to advance the hobby.

Of course, if you game HOTT, you are set no matter what! But if you want strictly limited history gaming, between subs and allies I can't see how you can miss, the list system is pretty generous.

Lt Col Pedant29 Oct 2014 4:28 a.m. PST

Just a couple of points:

"Homer" was not a single person. The literary evidence seems to suggest several voices composed the Illiad as oral poetry before it was ever written down.

I don't think there's evidence to suggest that these Homer/Homers were contemporary to events described in the Illiad.

Guthroth29 Oct 2014 1:20 p.m. PST

I have already decided that my Trojans are going to be organised and fight like Hittites.

I suppose my main point is that the army lists currently available for Troy don't square up with any known sources or the archeology. It's pleasing to see others coming to the same conclusions as me, and if my comments contribute to a discussion on the subject, I'm happy enough.

Ivan DBA29 Oct 2014 5:49 p.m. PST

They square up with the Illiad, which is a "known source." In fact, it is by far the best source. If it weren't for the Illiad we would be largely unaware this war ever occurred. Archeology is not the only "source."

Obviously the Hittite interpretation is perfectly valid, and you should build the army you want to build. But I think it is a little unfair to completely discount an oral tradition, particularly one that archaeology has actually confirmed on several points.

Queen Catherine29 Oct 2014 7:37 p.m. PST

+1, and I think archaeology is cool. Matter of fact, a friend is working on a well-known black powder era battlefield right now doing some pretty interesting things. But even he only considers the science as good as the people who run it.

Sort of like the oral / written story is only as good as the people who write it.

Don't forget to do a combo list at some point – Hittite – style with local allies or local allies with Hittite overlords, either would work well and make for an interesting gaming army. Throw in some sea people mercenaries occasionally for rough terrain!

bluebirds4030 Oct 2014 7:24 a.m. PST

if your gaming based on homer, the amazons were allies of troy.

GurKhan30 Oct 2014 9:10 a.m. PST

if your gaming based on homer, the amazons were allies of troy.

Not if your gaming is based on Homer – he only mentions Amazons as enemies of Troy, when Priam remembers fighting against them in his youth. It's the later poets, starting with Arktinos' Aithiopis, who add them to the list of Trojan allies.

Guthroth30 Oct 2014 11:30 a.m. PST

I now firmly believe that Homer is describing the warfare of his lifetime in the Illiad, not that of the 12thC BC. but is the Illiad to be trusted over the archeology ?

We have a good idea of what the achaians looked like, and the literature supports the archeology. But to suggest that the same literature over-rides the known archeology of Western Anatolia simply doesn't hold water.

If you want to game the Homeric version of the Trojan War, the current lists are fine. Sadly however I regard them as useless for gaming the warfare of Western Anatolia in the 12th C BC.

Gattamalata31 Oct 2014 9:44 a.m. PST

I now firmly believe that Homer is describing the warfare of his lifetime in the Illiad, not that of the 12thC BC. but is the Illiad to be trusted over the archeology ?

Homer, if he existed or was the most prominent amongst a group, mixes equipment from the Late Helladic and Archaic periods. Not the first instance of anachronism, but this could also mean he could've been the last to embellish the tale with details of his era, when Troy was a Greek settlement, a fraction of it's Bronze Age size.

Gattamalata31 Oct 2014 9:57 a.m. PST

if your gaming based on homer, the amazons were allies of troy.

Not if your gaming is based on Homer – he only mentions Amazons as enemies of Troy, when Priam remembers fighting against them in his youth. It's the later poets, starting with Arktinos' Aithiopis, who add them to the list of Trojan allies.

I think Homer based the Amazons on the Cimmerians who were driven south by the Scythians and later migrated into Anatolia. Amazons as Trojan allies might be based on Scythians serving as mercenaries.

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