Archaeology and Mythology

Recently an underground cave dedicated to the founders of Rome – Romulus and his brother Remus was found between one of the seven hills of Rome and the Basilica of Santa Anastasia. Does this mean that the story of the two brothers are not myth anymore or can archaeology prove mythology?

“Everyone always wants to think that archaeology has proved the Bible is true, or that there really was a Trojan War, or that King Arthur was a real character,” says historian T.P. Wiseman of England’s University of Exeter. “Archaeology by its nature can’t provide such evidence.” He says that when archaeologists interpret an artifact, their expert perspective is essentially a best guess, because there’s no means of confirmation. Historian Christopher Smith of Scotland’s University of St. Andrews notes that even if artifacts clearly reference the Romulus and Remus story, all they will show is that the cavern is a place where first-century Romans celebrated the legend — not that the story is real. “It is tempting to argue that the finds support historical events,” Smith says, “when in fact they merely support ancient beliefs about events.”[ Does a cave prove Romulus and Remus are no myth? – USATODAY.com]

The Troy was considered a mythological place till German businessman,Heinrich Schliemann found a site in Turkey which is now accepted by historians. German archaeologist Manfred Korfmann who has been excavating in Troy wrote

According to the archaeological and historical findings of the past decade especially, it is now more likely than not that there were several armed conflicts in and around Troy at the end of the Late Bronze Age. At present we do not know whether all or some of these conflicts were distilled in later memory into the “Trojan War” or whether among them there was an especially memorable, single “Trojan War.” However, everything currently suggests that Homer should be taken seriously, that his story of a military conflict between Greeks and the inhabitants of Troy is based on a memory of historical events–whatever these may have been [Was There a Trojan War?]

Archaeology could not prove that the Trojan war happened for sure, but it came up with the answer that it could have happened. 

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