In Search of the Trojan War

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In Search of the Trojan War
Region 1 DVD cover
Genre History documentary
Written by Michael Wood
Directed by Bill Lyons
Presented by Michael Wood
Composer(s) Terry Oldfield
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
No. of series 1
No. of episodes 6
Executive producer(s) Colin Adams
Producer(s) Bill Lyons
Running time approximately 345 minutes in total
Production company(s) BBC
Original network BBC2
Picture format 4:3
Audio format Mono
Original release 24 February (1985-02-24) – 31 March 1985 (1985-03-31)

In Search of the Trojan War is a 6-part BBC TV documentary series written and presented by Michael Wood, first broadcast in 1985 on BBC2. It examines the extent to which historical and archeological evidence matches the tale of the Trojan War as recounted by Homer in The Iliad.[1]

It bears all the traditional hallmarks of Michael Wood's work: impeccable scholarship, an abiding love for the subject, a fascination with the legend, and an ability to convey the romance of the subject without sacrificing the truth behind it.[citation needed]

Terry Oldfield and David Pash are credited with the original musical score.

In Search of... Helen of Troy[edit]

In Search of the Trojan War was the first follow-up series to Michael Wood's initial major broadcasting success, the documentary series In Search of the Dark Ages, which the BBC had aired between 1979 and 1981.

The essence of the new series was to expand the successful format of the eight programmes of the earlier series, such that instead of searching for a single historical character in each programme, all six programmes would search for the true story behind a single historical figure, Helen of Troy.

Wood compares to what extent the historical and archeological evidence matches with the tale of the Trojan War.[2]

Many cities have come and gone, bearing the name Troy, in the historical record of Asia Minor. Michael Wood seeks the evidence for each of them, and analyses whether the details match Homer's account of the city.

Michael Wood's motivation was to seek a legend: a character as deeply embedded in the collective memory of his audience as King Arthur had been in the earlier series; he sought Helen, the face that launched a thousand ships, although, as he himself remarks, romance is something which leaves no traces in the archaeological record.


(Videos available on YouTube - January 2017)

  • 1985-02-24 : Episode 1: The Age of Heroes[3] -outlines the story of the Trojan War and introduces the work of Heinrich Schliemann.
  • 1985-03-03 : Episode 2: The Legend Under Siege -explores the work of those who followed Schliemann such as Wilhelm Dörpfeld, Arthur Evans, and Carl Blegen.
  • 1985-03-10 : Episode 3: The Singer of Tales -discusses Homer and the bardic tradition.
  • 1985-03-17 : Episode 4: The Women of Troy
  • 1985-03-24 : Episode 5: The Empire of the Hittites
  • 1985-03-31 : Episode 6: The Fall of Troy


Wood also wrote a book based on the series. C. Brian Rose considered the 1996 edition "the best overall treatment in English of the evidence for the Trojan War."[4] The 1998 edition includes a new final chapter to take into account more recent developments in the search for Troy.[5]


External links[edit]