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The site of Troy.

Troy ({Ancient Greek: Ἴλιον, Ilion, or Ἴλιος, Ilios; and Τροία, Troia; Latin: Trōia and Īlium;[1] Hittite: Wilusa or Truwisa;[2][3] Turkish: Truva) was a city, both factual and legendary, in northwest Anatolia in what is now Turkey, south of the southwest end of the Dardanelles/Hellespont and northwest of Mount Ida. It is best known for being the setting of the Trojan War described in the Greek Epic Cycle and especially in the Iliad, one of the two epic poems attributed to Homer. Metrical evidence from the Iliad and the Odyssey seems to show that the name Ἴλιον (Ilion) formerly began with a digamma: Ϝίλιον (Wilion). This was later supported by the Hittite form Wilusa.

A new city called Ilium was founded on the site in the reign of the Roman Emperor Augustus. It flourished until the establishment of Constantinople and declined gradually during the Byzantine era.

In 1865, English archaeologist Frank Calvert excavated trial trenches in a field he had bought from a local farmer at Hisarlık, and in 1868, Heinrich Schliemann, wealthy German businessman and archaeologist, also began excavating in the area after a chance meeting with Calvert in Çanakkale.[4][5] These excavations revealed several cities built in succession. Schliemann was at first skeptical about the identification of Hissarlik with Troy, but was persuaded by Calvert[6] and took over Calvert's excavations on the eastern half of the Hissarlik site, which was on Calvert's property. Troy VII has been identified with the Hittite Wilusa, the probable origin of the Greek Ἴλιον, and is generally (but not conclusively) identified with Homeric Troy.

Today, the hill at Hisarlik has given its name to a small village near the ruins, supporting the tourist trade visiting the Troia archaeological site.[7] It lies within the province of Çanakkale, some 30 km south-west of the provincial capital, also called Çanakkale. The nearest village is Tevfikiye. The map here shows the adapted Scamander estuary with Ilium a little way inland across the Homeric plain.

Troia was added to the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1998.

Homeric Troy


Portion of the legendary walls of Troy (VII), identified as the site of the Trojan War (c. 1200 BCE).

Ancient Greek historians variously placed the Trojan War in the 12th, 13th, or 14th centuries BCE: Eratosthenes to 1184 BCE, Herodotus to 1250 BCE, Duris of Samos to 1334 BC. Modern archaeologists associate Homeric Troy with archaeological Troy VII.[8]

In the Iliad, the Achaeans set up their camp near the mouth of the River Scamander (presumably modern Karamenderes),[9] where they had beached their ships. The city of Troy itself stood on a hill, across the plain of Scamander, where the battles of the Trojan War took place. The site of the ancient city is some 5 km from the coast today, but the ancient mouths of Scamander, some 3,000 years ago, were about that distance inland,[10] pouring into a large bay that formed a natural harbour that has since been filled with alluvial material. Recent geological findings have permitted the reconstruction of how the original Trojan coastline would have looked, and the results largely confirm the accuracy of the Homeric geography of Troy.[11]

Amphitheatre of Troy

Amphitheatre of Troy

In November 2001, geologists John C. Kraft from the University of Delaware and John V. Luce from Trinity College, Dublin presented the results[12][13][14] of investigations, begun in 1977, into the geology of the region. They compared the present geology with the landscapes and coastal features described in the Iliad and other classical sources, notably Strabo's Geographia, and concluded that there is a regular consistency between the location of Schliemann's Troy and other locations such as the Greek camp, the geological evidence, descriptions of the topography and accounts of the battle in the Iliad. Further work by John Kraft and others was published in 2003.[15][16]

Besides the Iliad, there are references to Troy in the other major work attributed to Homer, the Odyssey, as well as in other ancient Greek literature. The Homeric legend of Troy was elaborated by the Roman poet Virgil in his Aeneid. The Greeks and Romans took for a fact the historicity of the Trojan War and the identity of Homeric Troy with the site in Anatolia. Alexander the Great, for example, visited the site in 334 BCE and made sacrifices at tombs there associated with the Homeric heroes Achilles and Patroclus.

After the 1995 find of a Luwian biconvex seal at Troy VII, there has been a heated discussion over the language that was spoken in Homeric Troy. Frank Starke of the University of Tübingen recently demonstrated that the name of Priam, king of Troy at the time of the Trojan War, is connected to the Luwian compound Priimuua, which means "exceptionally courageous".[17] "The certainty is growing that Wilusa/Troy belonged to the greater Luwian-speaking community," although it is not entirely clear whether Luwian was primarily the official language or in daily colloquial use.[18]

Chronology in the search for Homeric Troy

Initially, the layers of Troy VI and VII were overlooked entirely, because Schliemann favoured the burnt city of Troy II. It was not until the need to close Calvert's Thousand Year Gap arose—from Dörpfeld's discovery of the walls of Troy VI—that archaeology turned away from Schliemann's Troy and began working towards finding Homeric Troy once more.[19]

Calvert's Thousand Year Gap

Part of the city's archaeological chronology occurred during what is called "Calvert's Thousand Year Gap" (1800-800 BCE), a period not accounted for by Schliemann's archaeology and thus constituting a hole in the Trojan timeline. In Homer's description of the city, a section of one side of the wall is said to be weaker than the rest.[20] During his excavation of more than three hundred yards of the wall, Dörpfeld came across a section very closely resembling the Homeric description of the weaker section.[21] Dörpfeld was convinced he had found the walls of Homer's city, and now he would excavate the city itself. Within the walls of this stratum (Troy VI), much Mycenaean pottery dating from LH III A and III B was uncovered, suggesting a relation between the Trojans and Mycenaeans. The great tower along the walls seemed likely to be the "Great Tower of Ilios".[22]

The evidence seemed to indicate that Dörpfeld had stumbled upon Ilios, the city of Homer's epics. Schliemann himself had conceded that Troy VI was more likely to be the Homeric city, but he never published anything stating so.[23] The only counter-argument, confirmed initially by Dörpfeld (who was as passionate as Schliemann about finding Troy), was that the city appeared to have been destroyed by an earthquake, not by men.[24] There was little doubt that this was the Troy that the Mycenaeans would have known of.[25]

Archaeological Troy

Plan Troy-Hisarlik-en

Archeological plan of the Hisarlık citadel.


Aegean civilization is a general term for the Bronze Age civilizations of Greece and the Aegean.

The layers of ruins in the citadel at Hisarlık are numbered Troy I - Troy IX, with various subdivisions:

  • Troy I 3000–2600 BCE (Western Anatolian Early Bronze Age 1)
  • Troy II 2600–2250 BCE (Western Anatolian EB 2)
  • Troy III 2250–2100 BCE (Western Anatolian EB 3 [early])
  • Troy IV 2100–1950 BCE (Western Anatolian EB 3 [middle])
  • Troy V: 20th–18th centuries BCE (Western Anatolian EB 3 [late])
  • Troy VI: 17th–15th centuries BCE
  • Troy VIh: late Bronze Age, 14th century BCE
  • Troy VIIa: c. 1300–1190 BCE, most likely setting for Homer's story[26]
  • Troy VIIb1: 12th century BCE
  • Troy VIIb2: 11th century BCE
  • Troy VIIb3: until c. 950 BCE
  • Troy VIII: around 700 BCE
  • Troy IX: Hellenistic Ilium, 1st century BCE

The archaeological site of Troy was added to the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1998.

Troy I–V

The first city on the site was founded in the 3rd millennium BCE. During the Bronze Age, the site seems to have been a flourishing mercantile city, since its location allowed for complete control of the Dardanelles, through which every merchant ship from the Aegean Sea heading for the Black Sea had to pass. Around 1900 BCE a mass migration was set off by the 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 Troy.[27]

Schliemann's Troy II

When Schliemann came across Troy II, he believed he had found Homer's city. Schliemann and his team unearthed a large feature he dubbed the Scaean Gate, a western gate unlike the three previously found leading to the Pergamos.[28] This gate, as he describes, was the gate that Homer had featured. As Schliemann states in his publication Troja: "I have proved that in a remote antiquity there was in the plain of Troy a large city, destroyed of old by a fearful catastrophe, which had on the hill of Hisarlık only its Acropolis with its temples and a few other large edifices, southerly, and westerly direction on the site of the later Ilium; and that, consequently, this city answers perfectly to the Homeric description of the sacred site of Ilios."[29]

Troy VI

Troy VI was destroyed around 1250;BCE, probably by an earthquake. Only a single arrowhead was found in this layer, and no remains of bodies. However the town quickly recovered and was rebuilt in a layout that was more orderly.

Troy VII

Troy VII, which has been dated to the mid-to-late-13th century BCE, is the most often cited candidate for the Troy of Homer. It appears to have been destroyed by war.[30] The evidence of fire and slaughter around 1250 BCE, which brought Troy VIIA to a close, led to this phase being identified with the city besieged by the Greeks during the Trojan War. This was immortalized in the Iliad written by Homer.[31]

Troy IX

Tetradrachm from Troy

Silver tetradrachm from Troy during the Hellenistic period, 188–160 BCE. Head of Athena in Attic helmet. Reverse female figure and owl with inscription: ΑΘΗΝΑΣ ΙΛΙΑΔΟΣ, ΚΛΕΩΝΟΣ ΙΛΙΟΥ, "Athēnas Iliados, kleōnos Iliou".

The last city on this site, Hellenistic Ilium, was founded by Romans during the reign of the emperor Augustus and was an important trading city until the establishment of Constantinople in the 4th century as the eastern capital of the Roman Empir]. In Byzantine times, the city declined gradually and eventually disappeared.

Beneath part of the Roman city, the ruins of which cover a much larger area than the citadel excavated by Schliemann, recent excavations have found traces of an additional Bronze-Age settlement area (of lower status than the adjoining citadel) defended by a ditch.

Excavation campaigns

With the rise of modern critical history, Troy and the Trojan War were consigned to the realms of legend. However, the true location of ancient Troy had from classical times remained the subject of interest and speculation, so when, in 1822, the Scottish journalist Charles Maclaren reviewed the available material, he was able to identify with confidence the position of the acropolis of Augustus's New Ilium in north-western Anatolia.[32]

In 1866, Frank Calvert, the brother of the United States' consular agent in the region, made extensive surveys and published in scholarly journals his identification of the hill of New Ilium (which was on farmland owned by his family) as the site of ancient Troy. The hill, near the city of Çanakkale, was known to the Turks as Hisarlık.[33]


In 1868, Schliemann visited Calvert and secured permission to excavate Hisarlık. In 1871–73 and 1878–79, he excavated the hill and discovered the ruins of a series of ancient cities dating from the Bronze Age to the Roman period. Schliemann declared one of these cities — at first Troy I, later Troy II — to be the city of Troy, and this identification was widely accepted at that time. Schliemann's finds at Hisarlık have become known as Priam's Treasure. They were acquired from him by the Berlin museums, but significant doubts about their authenticity persist.


The view from Hisarlık across the plain of Ilium to the Aegean Sea.

Although it is widely believed that Heinrich Schliemann was responsible for starting archaeology on his own with the discovery of Troy, this is inaccurate. Schliemann became interested in digging at the mound of Hisarlık at the persuasion of Frank Calvert. The British diplomat, considered a pioneer for the contributions he made to the archaeology of Troy, spent more than 60 years in the Troad (modern day Biga peninsula, Turkey) conducting field work.[34] As a principal authority on field archaeology in the region, Calvert's findings supplied evidence that Homeric Troy might exist in the hill, playing a major role in directing Heinrich Schliemann to dig at the Hisarlık.[35]

Dörpfeld and Blegen

After Schliemann, the site was further excavated under the direction of Wilhelm Dörpfeld (1893–94) and later Carl Blegen (1932–38). [36][37] These excavations have shown that there were at least nine cities built, one on top of each other, at this site. In his research, Blegen came to a conclusion that Troy's nine levels could be further divided into forty-six sublevels .[38]


In 1988, excavations were resumed by a team of the University of Tübingen and the University of Cincinnati under the direction of Professor Manfred Korfmann, with Professor Brian Rose overseeing Post-Bronze Age (Greek, Roman, Byzantine) excavation along the coast of the Aegean Sea at the Bay of Troy. Possible evidence of a battle was found in the form of bronze arrowheads and fire-damaged human remains buried in layers dated to the early 12th century BCE. The question of Troy's status in the Bronze-Age world has been the subject of a sometimes acerbic debate between Korfmann and the Tübingen historian Frank Kolb in 2001–2002.

In August 1993, following a magnetic imaging survey of the fields below the fort, a deep ditch was located and excavated among the ruins of a later Greek and Roman city. Remains found in the ditch were dated to the late Bronze Age, the alleged time of Homeric Troy. It is claimed by Korfmann that the ditch may have once marked the outer defences of a much larger city than had previously been suspected. The latter city has been dated by his team to about 1250 BC, and it has been also suggested — based on recent archeological evidence uncovered by Professor Manfred Korfmann's team — that this was indeed the Homeric city of Troy.


In summer 2006, the excavations continued under the direction of Korfmann's colleague Ernst Pernicka, with a new digging permit.[39]

Hittite and Egyptian evidence

In the 1920s, the Swiss scholar Emil Forrer claimed that the placenames Wilusa and Taruisa found in Hittite texts should be identified with Ilium and Troia, respectively.[40] He further noted that the name of Alaksandu, a king of Wilusa mentioned in a Hittite treaty, is quite similar to Homer's Paris, whose birthname was Alexandros. Subsequent to this, the Tawagalawa letter (CTH 181) was found to document an unnamed Hittite king's correspondence to the king of the Ahhiyawa, referring to an earlier "Wilusa episode" involving hostility on the part of the Ahhiyawa. The Hittite king was long held to be Mursili II (c. 1321—1296), but, since the 1980s, his son Hattusili III (1265—1240) is commonly preferred, although his other son Muwatalli (c. 1296—1272) remains a possibility.

Inscriptions of the New Kingdom of Egypt also record a nation T-R-S as one of the Sea Peoples who attacked Egypt during the XIX and XX Dynasties. An inscription at Deir el-Medina records a victory of Ramesses III over the Sea Peoples, including one named "Tursha" (Egyptian: [twrš3]). It is probably the same as the earlier "Teresh" (Egyptian: [trš.w]) on the stele commemorating Merneptah's victory in a Libyan campaign around 1220 BCE.

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 BCE. 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.

In later legend

Such was the fame of the Epic Cycle in Roman and Medieval times that it was built upon to provide a starting point for various founding myths of national origins. The most influential, Virgil's Aeneid, traces the journeys of the Trojan prince Aeneas, supposed ancestor of the founders of Rome and the Julio-Claudian dynasty. In a later era, the heroes of Troy, both those noted in Homer and those invented for the purpose, often continued to appear in the origin stories of the nations of Early Medieval Europe.[41] The Roman de Troie was common cultural ground for European dynasties,[42] as a Trojan pedigree was both gloriously ancient and established an equality with the ruling class of Rome. A Trojan pedigree could justify the occupation of parts of Rome's former territories.[43] According to Marcus Terrentius Varro, the gens Salentini descended from Idomeneus.

Jordanes described how the Goths sacked "Troy and Ilium" after they had recovered from the war with Agamemnon.

On that basis, the Franks filled the lacunae of their legendary origins with Trojan and pseudo-Trojan names: in Fredegar's 7th-century chronicle of Frankish history, Priam appears as the first king of the Franks.[44] The Trojan origin of France was such an established article of faith that in 1714, the learned Nicolas Fréret was Bastilled for showing through historical criticism that the Franks had been Germanic, a sore point counter to Valois and Bourbon propaganda.[45]

In similar manner, Geoffrey of Monmouth reworked earlier material such as the Historia Brittonum to trace the legendary kings of the Britons from a supposed descendant of Aeneas called Brutus.

Likewise, Snorri Sturluson, in the prologue to his Icelandic Prose Edda, traced the genealogy of the ancestral figures in Norse mythology to characters appearing at Troy in Homer's epic, notably making Thor to be the son of Memnon. Sturluson referred to these figures as having made a journey across Europe towards Scandinavia, setting up kingdoms as they went.

Alternative views on Troy

A small minority of contemporary writers argue that Homeric Troy was not in Anatolia, but located elsewhere: England,[46] Croatia, and Scandinavia[47] have been proposed. These theories have little historical basis and have not been accepted by mainstream scholars.


  1. Trōia is the typical Latin name for the city. Ilium is a more poetic term: Lewis, Charlton T.; Charles Short. "Ilium". A Latin Dictionary. Tufts University: The Perseus Digital Library.;layout.refdoc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.04.0059;layout.reflookup=Ilium;layout.refcit=;doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.04.0059%3Aentry%3D%2321459. Retrieved 2008-03-01. 
  2. Korfmann, Manfred O. (2007). Winkler, Martin M. ed. Troy: From Home's Iliad to Hollywood Epic. Oxford, England: Blackwell Publishing Limited. p. 25. ISBN 1-4051-3183-7. "Troy or Ilios (or Wilios) is most probably identical with Wilusa or Truwisa...mentioned in the Hittite sources" 
  3. Burney, Charles (2004). "Wilusa". Historical dictionary of the Hittites. Metuchen, N.J: Scarecrow Press. p. 311. ISBN 0-8108-4936-4. 
  4. Wood, Michael (1985). In Search of the Trojan War. London: British Broadcasting Corporation. pp. 54–55. ISBN 978-0-563-20161-8. 
  5. Aşkin, Mustafa (1981). Troy (2005 rev ed.). Istanbul: Keskin. p. 34. ISBN 975-7559-37-7. 
  6. Bryce, Trevor (2005). The Trojans and their neighbours. Taylor & Francis. p. 37. ISBN 978-0-415-34959-8. 
  7. Aşkin, Mustafa (2005). Troy : With Legends, Facts, and New Developments. Istanbul: Keskin Color. p. 72. ISBN 975-7559-37-7. "Hisarlik, a village near the ruins of Troy." 
  8. Wood (1985:16)
  9. Cenker, Işil Cerem; Thys-Şenocak, Lucienne (2008). Shopes, Linda; Hamilton, Paula. ed. Oral History and Public Memories. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press. p. 76. ISBN 1-59213-141-7. 
  10. Strabo, Geography XIII, I, 36, tr. H. L. Jones, Loeb Classical Library; Pliny the Elder, Natural History, V.33, tr. H. Rackham, W. S. Jones and D. E. Eichholz, Loeb Classical Library.
  11. Geologists investigate Trojan battlefield, 7 February 2003, BBC NEWS
  12. Confex.
  13. Nature.
  14. Iliad, Discovery.
  15. Harbor areas at ancient Troy: Sedimentology and geomorphology complement Homer's Iliad, Geoscience World (abstract)
  16. Press Release: Geology corresponds with Homer’s description of ancient Troy, University of Delaware
  17. Starke, Frank. "Troia im Kontext des historisch-politischen und sprachlichen Umfeldes Kleinasiens im 2. Jahrtausend". // Studia Troica, 1997, 7, 447-87.
  18. Latacz, Joachim (2004). Troy and Homer: Towards a Solution of an Old Mystery, page 116. Oxford. ISBN 960-16-1557-1. 
  19. Allen, Susan H. "Finding the Walls of Troy". pg. 142
  20. Homer. Iliad. XVI,
  21. Wood, Michael. "In Search of the Trojan War". pg. 89
  22. Homer. "Iliad". VI, 386
  23. Allen, Susan H. "Finding the Walls of Troy". pg. 143
  24. Wood, Michael. "In Search of the Trojan War". pg. 228
  25. Wood, Michael. "In Search of the Trojan War". pg. 223
  26. Troy VII and the Historicity of the Trojan War, Dartmouth College (2000)- accessed 2007-03-17
  27. Mellaart, James (January 1958). "The end of the early Bronze Age in Anatolia and the Aegean". American Journal of Archaeology 62 (1): 9–33. Retrieved 2009-09-14. 
  28. Schliemann, Heinrich. "Troja". pg. 75
  29. Schliemann, Heinrich. “Troja”. New York: Benjamin Bloom Inc. 1884. pg. 277
  30. "Troy VII and the Historicity of the Trojan War". 2000-03-18. Retrieved 2010-11-16. 
  31. "Archaeological Site of Troy - UNESCO World Heritage Centre". 1998-12-02. Retrieved 2012-08-15. 
  32. Charles Maclaren, A Dissertation On the Topography of the Plain of Troy: Including an Examination of the Opinions of Demetrius, Chevalier, Dr. Clarke, and Major Rennell, Nabu Press, 2010, ISBN 1-146-73161-2 (available online at Google [1])
  33. Wood (1985: 42—44)
  34. Allen, Susan. “Finding the Walls of Troy”: Frank Calvert, Excavator. American Journal of Archaeology Vol. 99, No. 3(July 1995): pg. 379-407. Jstor. Accessed October 2010
  35. Allen, Susan. “Finding the Walls of Troy”: Frank Calvert, Excavator. pg. 380
  36. Wilhelm Dörpfeld, Troja und Ilion, Beck & Barth, 1902
  37. Carl W. Blegen, Troy; excavations conducted by the University of Cincinnati, 1932-1938, Princeton University Press, 1950
  38. Allen, Susan H. "Finding the Walls of Troy". pg. 259
  39. Universität Tübingen setzt Ausgrabungen in Troia fort.
  40. For Taruisa see also Carter-Morris, p. 34–35.
  41. Huppert, George. "The Trojan Franks and their Critics." Studies in the Renaissance 12. 1965. pp. 227-241. & Hays, Denys. Europe: The Emergence of an Idea. 1957.
  42. A. Joly first traced the career of the Roman de Troie in Benoit de Sainte-More et le Roman de Troie (Paris 1871).
  43. Huppert, supra.
  44. Exinde origo Francorum fuit. Priamo primo rege habuerant.
  45. Larousse du XIXe siècle sub "Fréret", noted by Huppert 1965.
  46. Iman Wilkens, Where Troy Once Stood, (Groningen 2005), p. 68.
  47. Felice Vinci, The Baltic Origins of Homer's Epic Tales: The Iliad, the Odyssey, and the Migration of Myth

References and further reading

External links

  • Media
    • "The Age of Iron". Richard Miles. Ancient Worlds. BBC 2. 51:22 minutes in. Retrieved on 20 November 201.
This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Troy. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.

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