TROY

The excavations of Troy (Hisarlik) led by German Henrich Schliemann from 1870, then in collaboration with Wilhelm Dörpfeld in 1882 (and later led by Carl Blegen from Cincinnati University between 1932 and 1938), revealed nine main settlements (Troy I to Troy IX) in different layers from 3000 BC until 400 AD, that is to say from the Early Bronze Period till the Roman Period.
The long history of Troy is that of the development of a wealthy trade city interrupted by tragic episodes, natural disasters, fires, wars, invasions, massacres...But after each resurrection the city extended, improved its town planning and reinforced its fortifacations.
Troy was also known as Ilios* or Ilion, a name which can be found in the Iliad, Homer's epic poem where he immortalized it through mythological characters: Helen**, the spouse of Menelaus, king of Sparta, was abducted to Troy by Paris who had fallen in love with her. Troy became the stake in the ten year-lasting Trojan war between Achilles and the Achaeans led by Agamemnon, the brother of Menelaus and King of Mycenae, and Hector and the Trojans led by Priam, the father of Paris and king of Troy. To avenge the death of his friend Patroclus, Achilles, armed with a shield forged by smith-god Hephaestus, killed Hector in a duel and dragged his body seven times around the city walls behind his chariot. He was himself killed later by Paris. Realizing that the city could only be taken by trickery, the Achaeans feigned to go, leaving as a gift the huge Trojan Horse inside which their warriors were concealed....
According to Archaeoligical evidences, Troy VIIa was destroyed around 1200 BC, at the same period as the Iliad's Troy.

* Dardanos, son of Zeus and the Pleiad Electra daughter of the Titan Atlas and Pleione, was the founder and king of the city of Dardania located in the foothills of Mount Ida (near Çanakkale) on the Asian shore of the Strait of the Dardanelles
. From Dardanus' grandson Tros, the people gained the additional name of Trojans and the region gained the additional name Troad. Tros' son Ilus subsequently founded a further city called Ilion (also Ilios or Ilium) more commonly called Troy and the kingdom was split between Ilium and Dardania.

** The mythological origin of the Trojan War is related to the Myth of the Apple of Discord: Zeus was preparing a wedding banquet for King Peleus and Thetis and did not want to invite the goddess Eris - later called Discordia by the Romans - because she took pleasure stirring up disputes among mortals and immortals alike. This made Eris angry and she, who was terrible in appearance, fashioned a golden apple and inscribed upon it “KALLISTI” ("To The Prettiest One"). On the wedding day, she managed to roll the apple across the floor of the banquet hall. Three of the invited goddesses, Athena, Hera, and Aphrodite, each laid claim to it because of the inscription, and they started to fight. Zeus, to calm things down, chose Trojan Paris as arbitrator, but each of the goddesses offered him a tempting bribe. Athena offered him heroic war victories and Hera offered him great wealth, but Paris chose Aphrodite who offered to help him seduce and abduct the most beautiful woman on earth: Helen the wife of Menelaus, the king of Sparta who led an army to Troy to get her back.
The beauty contest took place on Mount Ida, or Kaz Dagi, located to the south-est of Troy in the Kaz Dagi National Park near the Edremit Bay between the towns of Ayvacik and Edremit. The park offers magnificent landscapes and vistas, peaceful green areas and several hot springs.


The different settlements of Troy :


-Troy I (about 2920 - 2350, Early Bronze) developed the "Troy Littoral Culture" that showed affinities with the Culture of the Aegean and the Cyclades. Troy I is characterized by the first type of house called primitive "megaron" formed by a rectangular room with an open part in front.

-Troy II (about 2550 - 2250) presents a development of the preceding settlement. The fortified city, which became the center of a kingdom, showed evidence of town planning. Due to its strategic location on the trade routes at the entrance of the Strait of the Dardanelles and to its contacts with the East and the West, the city exceled at metalwork (gold, silver, copper, pewter, bronze) and potter's wheel work exporting jewels, pottery... From that period date the solid gold and silver objects and jewels which, among other marvels, belonged to the wrongly designated Treasure of Priam which was discovered by Schliemann and taken to Berlin.

-Troy III (about 2250 - 2200): following the fires that destroyed Troy II and the Indo-European wave of invasion, a progressive decadence and a decline in the prosperity of the city appeared.

-Troy IV, V (2200 - 1700, Middle Bronze) : it is the Period of Anatolian Troy because from now on, the houses were built like in the center of Anatolia, with a terraced roof and they stood the ones next to the others forming a continuous facade. Inside was an oven with a hood.

-Troy VI (about 1700 - 1300, End of Middle Bronze to Late Bronze) : this period marks a real revival of the city as a high artistic level was reached. It is Homer's Ilios, Priam's city with beautiful houses, and defended by high and strong walls. However it was destroyed by an earthquake.

-Troy VIIa (about 1300 - 1200, Late Bronze) : former materials were re-used to mend the houses and city walls. The population increased extensively. But about 1200, Ilios was destroyed by war which agrees with the Trojan War depicted in Homer's Iliad. However, it is also thought that the Achaeans might have achieved victory after the city was first destroyed by an earthquake, and that they erected a horse statue as a token of their gratitude for the efficacious help of Poseidon, the god who made the earth quake. This event might have fed Homer's poetic imagination.

-Troy VIIb1, VIIb2, VIIb3 (about 1200 - 1000, Early Iron Age): the local culture continued until the VIIb2 period when a change in civilization occured. A new type of pottery, which was only found in the Balkans, appeared.

-Troy VIII (about 700 - 85 BC, Greek Archaic to Hellenistic Period): about 700, the city was destroyed and occupied by the Aeolian Greeks. In the 6C BC, Troy came under the domination of the Persians and, according to Herodotus, Achaemenid sovereign Xerxes had 1,000 oxen immolated in the Temple of Athena Ilia. In 334 Alexander the Great in turn came to offer sacrifices to the Temple, promissing to erect a new and more beautiful one. Thanks to this vow fulfilled by Lysimachus who rebuilt the city, Ilion was renamed "Ilion the Holy City". Devastated by the Galatians in 278 and 218, the city was finally destroyed by the Romans in 85 BC.

-Troy IX (85 BC - 400 AD, Roman Period): as the Romans considered that Trojan Hero Aeneas was their ancestor, they attached much importance to the city which they called Ilium. Julius Caesar offered sacrifices, but it was Emperor Augustus who had the Temple enlarged and building works done such as the construction of the walls, the bouleuterion, the theatre...

From the 5th century, Troy, which had become a bishopric during the Byzantine Period, little by little fell into oblivion. Recently, Byzantine vestiges and numerous tombs dating back mostly to the 13th and 14th centuries, have been brought to light.
During 500 years, there was no other settlement until Schliemann founded "Schliemannopolis" formed by the hutments installed near the citadel for the purpose of the excavations.

The excavations, that started again in 1988 and led by Manfred Korfmann from Tübingen Üniversity, are still in process today.

The archaeological site of Troy is of major significance in the understanding of the development of the European civilization at a critical stage in its early evolution. It is moreover of exceptional cultural importance because of the profound influence of Homer's Iliad on the creative arts.

Troy has been declared by UNESCO to be one of the Eminent Cultural Heritages of the World.


The different settlements of Troy
Troia- projekt des Instituts für Ur- und
Frühgeschichte un Archaeologie des Mittelalters
der Eberhard- Karls-Üniversitat Tübingen

Reconstruction of Troy VI-VII
Troia- projekt des Instituts für Ur- und
Frühgeschichte un Archaeologie des Mittelalters
der Eberhard- Karls-Üniversitat Tübingen
© Christoph Haussner, Munich

At the entrance of the site stands an
interesting adaptation to the mythological
Trojan Wooden Horse


South Gate - Troy VI


Mudbrick megaron constructed
in alignment with the citadel wall.
Troy II-III


South gate - Troy VI



Sanctuary, Troy VIII-IX

Roman Odeon, Troy VIII-IX.
At the back stand fortification walls
and the pillar of the "pillar house" - Troy VI

Old King Priam begging Achilles to give him
back the dead body of his son Hector.
Red-figure skyphos by the Brygos Painter
ca. 480-470.
Kunsthistoriche Museum - Wien


Achaeans warriors hidden inside the Trojan Horse
Cyclades Ceramic Amphora ca. 670 BC
Archaeology Museum - Delos