Houghton Mifflin Social Studies
A Message of Ancient Days

The Real City of Troy

Objective: Students review Homer's Iliad, and research the real city of Troy to write a newspaper report.

What You Need:

Suggested Time:
4-5 hours over 3-4 days

Building Background:
Introduce or review the Greek poet Homer's Iliad, one of the West's oldest and best-known stories. Tell students that the story is about a group of Greek kings who have joined forces in a ten-year war with the city of Troy over the wife of one of the kings. The story is full of adventure: Greek and Trojan heroes, strong Trojan walls, Greek gods taking sides, internal quarrels, external battles, and finally, the clever trick of the wooden horse which fooled the Trojans into opening their gate. Tell students that until a little over a hundred years ago, most scholars believed the city of Troy was a mythical place. In the 1880s, a German archaeologist searched and finally found evidence of a city of the right age in the right location. Tell students they will learn more about the real city of Troy.

What To Do:

1. Divide students into five working groups and assign each one of the following research topics: Where was Troy? Who lived there? What did it look like? Did the Greeks actually go to war with the Trojans, and if so, why? What happened to the city?

2. Send students to the library to do their research. Some good sources include encyclopedias and atlases of world history, such as The Times Atlas of World History. In Search of the Trojan War by Michael Wood includes much of the information asked for in this activity, although it is written for adults. You can also consult the Unit 5 Bibliography for other sources.

Troy: 4000 Year Old Ancient City

This site offers extensive and detailed information about recent archaeological evacuations at Troy. It includes new information, images, and the latest research on what made up the real Troy.

3. Have each group take notes on their research. For example, students researching the location of Troy should note in what present-day country the ancient city lies as well as any nearby geographical features. Students researching the people of Troy should try to find out where Trojans came from and where other Trojans lived as well as what daily life might have been like for Trojans. Students researching what the city looked like should note details on the city's appearance and any places around the city. Students researching whether Troy experienced a war should find out why any conflicts were fought. Students researching what happened to Troy should look for events that impacted Troy's history and people.

4. When students have completed their research, have each group give an oral report to share their findings. Discuss any questions that come up during the reports.

5. Working on their own, have each student use his or her notes to write a newspaper report about the city of Troy. Tell students that their reports should explain the myths about the city as well as the true history of the city. Give students time to write and then revise their stories.

6. Have students illustrate their stories with drawings of the myths surrounding Troy and drawings of the actual history of the city.

Discuss with students what they learned about Troy. Have volunteers describe the location and appearance of the city as well as any information they uncovered about the people who lived there and events in the city's history.


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