Behind the Myth of Troy
"What might everyday life in Troy (Turva) have been like? We have come along way
from the medireview view to the modern techniques for reconstructing the citadel and
lower city of Troy VI (1700 - 1250 BC) using the latest archaeological findings."
Troy is a city which existed over 4000 years and known as the center of ancient
civilizations. Many years, people believed that it was the city in tales and never existed
until it was first found. At this time it was known as Ilium or New Ilium. Today Troy or
New Ilium places in Hisarlik at Canakkale.
At first, Troy appared in Greek and Latin literature. Homer first mentioned story of Troy
in Iliad and Odyssey. Later it became most popular subject in Greek drama and told its
story elaborately to next generations.
In Bronze Age, Troy has a great power because of its strategic position between Europe
and Asia. In the 3rd an 2nd millennia BC, Troy was a cultural center. After the Trojan
War, the site was apparently abandoned from 1100 to 700 BC. About 700 BC Greek
settlers began to occupy the Troas. Troy was resettled and named Ilion. Alexander the
Great ruled over the area successively from the late 6th century BC. After Roman
captured Troy in 85 BC. , it was restored partially by Roman general Sulla. After the
occupation of Constantinople ( Istanbul ), Troy lost its importance. Ilium was for a
considerable period to the Heathen
world, what Jerusalem is now to the Christian, a 'sacred' city which attracted pilgrims by
the fame of its wars and its woes, and by the shadow of ancient sanctity reposing upon it.
Chronicle Table of Troy
Troy I 2920-2450 BC.
Troy II 2600-2450 BC.
Troy III 2390-2200 BC.
Troy IV 2200-2000 BC.
Troy V 2000-1870 BC.
Troy VI 1700-1250 BC.
Troy VII 1250-1020 BC.
Troy VIII 800-85 BC.
Troy IX 85 BC.-500 AD.
ìIt is rather like a bad film version of a good book,î says Ulrich Eberl Daimler. Standing
on the castle mound in Troy, and reality refuses to square with any preconceived picture
of this famous city. Is this meant to be "the turreted Ilion", the city "replete with
resplendent houses", which Homer made immortal over 2700 years ago in the hexameters
of the Iliad? Is this puny, barely 200 x 150-meter-large mound of ruins, with its confusing
muddle of bits of masonry, the remains of at least nine epochs in the city's history?
Manfred Korfmann, coordinator of the dig at Troy, endeavors to explain the "Troy
phenomenon". "When Homer created the first epic from the myths handed down to him,
he changed the world. It was really because of him that these ruins were so long the
symbol of rivalry between East and West". That is why Xerxes sacrificed 1000 oxen at
Priam's former stronghold before he embarked on his Greek campaign. In a later reprisal,
Alexander the Great, who, besides his sword, always kept a copy of the Illiad under his
pillow, offered up a sacrifice at the reputed grave of Achilles. Be it Romans, Creeks,
Christian Crusaders or the Ottoman conquerors of Constantinople - they all
acknowledged their Trojan heritage, erected their holy shrines and made the heroic site
both a place of pilgrimage and a tourist destination.
So what significance can the remains of the real Troy still have? What does Korfmann
still hope to find with his international team of 70 scientists and 90 local workers at this,
the most famous and probably the largest excavation site in the Mediterranean region?
What could Heinrich Schliemann and his successors have overlooked that the Turkish
authorities should award the Tubingen University professor and a team of proven experts
in the field of Turkish early history a personal license for the dig in 1988 - exactly 50
years after the conclusion of the last excavation work?
"We are no longer interested in clarifying whether the Trojan War and the ensuing
destruction of Troy VI around 1250 BC - really took place", Korfmann points out. "I even
think that because of Troy's strategic significance, there must have been many Trojan
Wars which could have served as a basis for Homer's epics".
It was here that the trade routes between East and West, North and South, intersected.
"Troy's closest ally", claims Korfmann, "was the wind". He points to the trees and bushes
that have grown at an angle down below on the plain. "For weeks we've had a north-east
wind, and there's no reason to suppose that things were any different then".
Anyone wanting to sail with the keel-less ships of the Bronze Age through the straits of
the Dardanelles into the Black Sea would either have had to wait weeks for a favorable
wind or transport their goods overland. In any event, the last possible port of call was the
Bay of Besik, the main harbor at Troy. Here the Trojans could happily exact their last
tribute - much to the annoyance of the traveling merchants. "For thousands of years this
emporium serving both Asia and Europe must have been an exceptional hive of activity",
Korfmann maintains, "and it is this fact that makes Troy and its environs so interesting
for contemporary archaeology".
The off-roader carries us across the plain that divides the rivers Scamander and Simoeis,
where Homer locates the battles of the Iliad. "Wherever we dig here, we always find
something", says Korfmann. It's really amazing just how much his research team has
discovered! An early stone-age settlement, a landing stage in the Bay of Besik with a
burial site dating from the Troy VI period, and the Roman Ilion at the foot of the citadel.
Yet it was a find made by the archaeologists two years ago that really made the
archaeological world sit up and take notice. "We knew there was a city below the citadel
of Troy VI, and we wanted to find its fortifications," Hans Gunter Jansen, a physicist and
expert on geomagnetic surveying, recalls. For the last six years Jansen has been
investigating the area around the citadel mound with his magnetometer. He laughs
ruefully. "It's exhausting work, trudging over the fields at over 30 degrees in the shade
from six o'clock in the morning till sundown!"
What an amazing place to visit! I had dreamed of the opportunity to visit the Bible Lands
in Turkey ever since becoming a Christian eight years ago. Even more, I had read about
Troy when I was in grammar school and had wondered what it would be like to see such
an ancient site. One of the reasons that I had chosen Troy was to understand the history of
the nine different cities built on top of each other.
I learned that Wilhelm Dorpfeld followed Schliemann to excavate Troy. In its history,
Troy was destroyed many times and rebuilt. Until now archeologists have found 9 levels
of Troy labeled from I to IX. Perhaps many other levels are still hidden in it. Troy I to V
relates roughly with early Bronze Age (3000 to 1900 BC). Its inhabitants were known as
Trojan in this period. Troy VI and VII were built in the middle and late Bronze Age. Troy
VIII to IX belongs to Hellenistic and Roman Ilion (Latin Ilium).
Troy is one of the most famous cities of antiquity. From Alexander the Great to Lord
Byron, many have stood and gawked on the site of the great wars, poems events have
been said to take place. Throughout history, people always wondered whether the Trojan
War happened or not. Where was Troy? Did Helen of Troy exist? Was there a real
Homer, in The Iliad and The Odyssey, tells the tale of Troy. Homer was drawing on a vast
cycle of stories about Trojan War. The Iliad includes a few weeks in the tenth year of the
According to Greek sources, Troy stood near the Dardanelles. There was no dispute about
its location as all of the surrounding cities were familiar: the Dardanelles, the islands of
Imbros, Samothrace and little Tenedos, Mount Ida to the southeast, the plain and the river
Scamander. It was an ancient city and its inhabitants were known as Teucrians or
Dardanians, but also as Trojans or Ilians.
The most famous tales Homer records are the epic Trojan War and wooden horse. On the
mainland of Greece in this time, the most powerful king was Agamemnon. His residence
was at Mycenae. The inhabitants of Greece called themselves as Achaeans, Danaans, or
Argues, not Greeks or Hellenes. Agamemnon had married Clytemnestra, daughter of
Tyndareus of Sparta and sister to Helen. Helen was the most beautiful woman in the
world. She had married Agamemnon's brother Meneleos who became king in Lakonia.
The two brothers had a great power in southern Greece.
A wooden horse was built to gain access to the city. Among other well-armed men,
Odysseus of Ithaca and Meneleos himself were hidden inside. The horse was left as a
"thank you" to Athena and the Greeks burned their camps and sailed as if they had
given up. The Trojans found the horse and the ashes of the camp and pulled the horse into
the city. 'It was midnight', says a fragment from the epic known as the little Iliad, 'and full
moon was rising'. The soldiers jumped down from horse and opened the gates by killing
the sentries. The Greeks entered the city and killed all Trojans wherever they found them.
After the Greek massacre, none of the male sex was left in the city. Neoptolemus killed
old Priam on the threshold of his royal house. The male children of Trojan heroes were
slaughtered. Hector's little boy was thrown from the walls. Meneleos determined to kill
Helen but found her beauty so captivating that he decided to spare her. Before leaving, the
Greeks plundered and burned Troy.
This was a fascinating site to visit. I enjoyed the opportunity of viewing and researching
this historical site first-hand and considered it a great privilege. I wish that I could include
some of my pictures.