Lost City of Troy

The legendary city of Troy, scene of 10-year-long Trojan War, is inextricably linked with some of the most prominent characters in Greek myth. From the goddess Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite (and the matchless beauty of Helen) to the action heroes Achilles, Paris, and Odysseus. Most people are familiar with the story of the fall of Troy. 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 and published A dissertation on the topography of the plain of Troy he was able to identify with confidence the position of the acropolis of Augustus's New Ilium in north-western Anatolia. But is there any truth to the tale of this mighty conflict caused by the love of Paris for Helen, which only ended when the Greeks introduced the Trojan Horse? Did the war really take place? Was there a city called Troy?

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 town of Chanak, was known to the Turks as Hisarlik. The myth of Troy begins with the marriage celebration of King Peleus, one of the Argonauts who accompanied Jason on his quest for the Golden Fleece, and his wife Thetis, a sea goddess. The couple neglected to invite Eris, goddess of discord, to the wedding, but she arrived at the banquet anyway, and in her anger threw a golden apple onto the table inscribed “For the most beautiful.” Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite all reached for the apple at the same time. To resolve the conflict, Zeus assigned the crucial decision to the most handsome man alive – Paris, the son of Priam, king of Troy. Hera promised Paris great power if she were his choice, Athena offered him military glory, and Aphrodite promised the love of the most beautiful woman in the world. Paris decided to present the golden apple to Aphrodite, who gave him Helen, the wife of Menelaus, and Paris set off for the Greek city of Sparta to find her.

The Trojan prince was welcomed as an honoured guest at Menelaus’s palace in Sparta. But when Menelaus was absent at a funeral, Paris and Helen escaped to Troy, taking with them a large amount of the king’s wealth. On his return, Menelaus was understandably outraged to find his wife had been abducted and his treasures stolen. He immediately gathered Helen’s old suitors, who had long before sworn an oath to protect the marriage of Helen and Menelaus, and they decided to raise an army and sail for Troy. And so the seed for the legendary Trojan War was sown.

After more than two years of preparation, the Greek fleet (consisting of more than 1,000 ships under the command of Agamemnon, king of Mycenae) assembled at the port of Aulis in east central Greece, ready for the voyage to Troy. However, there was no wind to carry the ships, so the seer calchia told Agamemnon that in order for the ships to sail he must sacrifice his daughter Iphigenia to the goddess Artemis. With this barbarous – but apparently necessary – act accomplished, the Greeks were able to leave for Troy. For nine years the battle raged, during which time many great heroes from both sides were slain, including Achilles, who was killed by Paris. But still the Greeks could not breach the great walls of Troy and gain entrance to the city.

In the 10th year of the war, the cunning Odysseus organized the building of a giant wooden horse, the inside hollowed out in order to conceal Greek warriors, including Odysseus, within. The horse was placed outside the gates of Troy, and the Greek fleet in the harbor sailed away, as if in defeat. When the Trojans saw the ships leaving and the huge wooden horse outside the city, they believed victory was theirs and dragged the horse inside the walls of Troy. That night, the Greeks climbed down from the horse and opened the gates of the city, letting the whole Greek army. The Trojans, caught completely by surprise, were slaughtered. Polyxena, daughter of Priam, was sacrificed at the tomb of Achilles, and Astyanax, son of Hector, was also sacrifice. Although Menelaus had been intent on killing the disloyal Helen, her beauty overcame him and she was spared.

Portion of he Legendary Walls of Troy (Identified as the site of Trojan War)

The story of Troy was first told in Homer’s Iliad, written around 750 B.C. Details were added by later writers, such as the Roman poet Virgil in his Aeneid, and Ovid in his Metamorphoses. Most ancient Greek historians, such as Herodotus and Thucydides, were convinced of the historicity of the Trojan War. These writers took Homer at his word and placed Troy on a hill overlooking the Hellespont (modern Dardanelles) – the narrow straits between the Aegean and Black seas. This was a position of great strategic importance in terms of trade. For hundred of years, explorers and antiquarians fascinated by the legend of Troy searched the area, known in antiquity as the Troad, now part of noerthwest Turkey.

The most famous and successful searcher for the great city of Troy was German businessman Heinrich Schliemann. Guided by the Iliad of Homer, he decided that Troy was located on a mound at Hisarlik a few miles from Dardanelles, and began excavations there in 1870, continuing until 1890, Schliemann discovered the remains of a series of ancient cities beginning in the early Bronze Age (third millennium B.C.) and ending in the Roman period. Believing Troy must be located in the lower levels, Schliemann quickly and carelessly hacked through the upper levels, irrevocably destroying much vital evidence in the process.

In 1873 he unearthed a variety of gold artefacts, which he dubbed Priam’s Treasure. He announced to the world that he had found Homer’s Troy. There has been much debate about whether or not Schliemann actually found the gold artefacts in the place where he claimed, or if he had them planted there to verify his claims that the site was in fact the fabled city of Troy. Schliemann is known to have distorted the facts on more than one occasion. Although he claimed to have discovered the site of Troy at Hisarlik himself, when Schliemann first visited the Troad, English archaeologist and diplomat Frank Calvert had already been excavating on part of Hisarlik for some time, as it was on his family’s land. Calvert was convinced Hisarlik was the site of ancient Troy and later collaborated with Schliemann on his early excavation on the hill. However, when Schliemann later received worldwide acclaim for discovering the Homeric city, he refused to admit that Calvert had anything to do with the discovery.

Currently, English and American heirs of Frank Calvert are pursuing claims for a portion of the treasure that Schliemann and Calvert recovered from the site of Hisarlik. The spectacular gold finds discovered by Schliemann are now believed to have come from a much earlier city on the Hisarlik mound than he believed. The city Schliemann thought was Homer’s Troy in fact dates from 2400 to 2200 B.C., at least 1,000 years before the generally accepted date for the Trojan War.

Despite Schliemann’s egoistical attitude, he did bring the site of Hisarlik to the attention of the world. After his excavations, further work at Hisarlik was undertaken by Wilhelm Dorpfeld (1893-1894), American archaeologist Carl Blegen from 1932 to 1938. And 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. Possible evidence of a battle was found in the form of arrowheads found 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 2003 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. Excavations at Troy have shown that there were nine separate phases and cities at the site, with various sub-phases. These phases begin in the third millennium B.C. (early Bronze Age) with Troy I and finish in the Hellenistic period (323 B.C – c. 31 B.C) with Troy IX. The Late Bronze Age phase Troy VIIa (c. 1300 – c. 1180 B.C.) is the city usually put forward as the most likely candidate for Homer’s Troy, mainly due to its date, which seems to tie in with homer’s descriptions, and the fact that traces of fire indicate that the city was destroyed during a war.

Archaeological Plan of the Hisarlik Citadel

Contact between mainland Greece and Troy VIIa is attested to in the form of imported Mycenaean (Late Bronze Age) Greek artifacts, especially pottery. Furthermore, the city of Troy VIIa was of considerable size, and finds including partial human remains and some bronze arrowheads have been made in the fort and city. However, a large part of Troy VIIa remains unexcavated, and the finds are generally too meagre to argue with certainty that the destruction of the site was done by human hands over that of a natural catastrophe, such as a massive earthquake. Nevertheless, if we are to interpret the Homeric city of Troy as a historical truth, then on present knowledge Troy VIIa would seem to fit the facts best. Recently, evidence that would seem to support the view of the Hisarlik mound as the site of Troy was revealed by geologists John C. Kraft from the University of Delaware, and John V. Luce from Trinity College, Dublin. The pair undertook a geological study of the landscape and coastal features of the area around Hisarlik, which revealed that the region,s sedimentology and geomorphology are consistent with the features described in Homer’s Iliad.

There may even be some historical fact behind what is perhaps the most outlandish detail in Homer’s narrative – the colossal Trojan Horse. English historian Michael Wood has suggested that rather than being a clever ploy to get inside the city, the Trojan Horse might actually represent a large battering ram or primitive siege engine resembling a horse. Such devices are known from Classical Greece. For example, the Spartans made use of battering rams in the siege of Plataea in 429 B.C. Alternatively, it is known that the symbol of the horse was used to represent Poseidon, the terrible god of earthquakes.

Perhaps the Trojan horse may be a metaphor for an earthquake that struck the city, fatally weakening the defense, allowing the Greek armies easy access. Further evidence, though controversial, for the historical existence of Troy comes from letters found in the archives of the Hittite Empire of Anatolia (modern Turkey). These letters, dating to around 1320 B.C., refer to military and political tension with a powerful empire called Ahhiyawa over the control of the kingdom of Wilusa. Wilusa has been tentatively identified with the Greek Ilios; Troy; and Ahhiyawa (with the Greek word Achaea, the country of the Achaeans, as Homer refers to the Greeks in the Iliad). These identifications remain controversial, but have been gaining more acceptance among scholars as research into the relationships between Greece and the Near East in the Late Bronze Age progresses. Unfortunately, we still do not possess a Hittite text that makes specific reference to a conflict in the Troad that can definitely be identified with the Trojan War.

In a sense then, the story of the Trojan War is based roughly on historic events, though embellished by centuries of retelling, during which the supernatural elements of the tale were inserted. Perhaps even the beautiful Helen of Troy was added by a later storyteller to the original semi-historical narrative.

(Sources : Hidden History by Brian Haughton and Wikipedia)

(Pic sources : http://markelikalderon.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/trojan-horse.jpg;


RiP666 said...

duh salah coment, kirain yg buat award tadinya hahahaha...

kerenn bro, kayak di pilem2 troy

BlackBerry said...

I believe that Troy was more likely located in modern day Cyprus. Hehe. I don't have enough source to prove that, though.

Syifa said...

i like to read about Greek's myth, numbers of god and goddess sounds real.

Have a good morning Tripzibit!

Unknown said...

I believe the Trojan Horse was a war tactic used by the Trojans on horseback. I believe during te War the Horse was infiltrated by 50 men and whaat may have looked like a retreat to the city was how entry was gained

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