Troy is a legendary city and center of the Trojan War, as described in the Epic Cycle, and especially in the Iliad, one of the two epic poems attributed to Homer. Trojan refers to the inhabitants and culture of Troy.
Today it is the name of an archaeological site, the traditional location of Homeric Troy, Turkish Truva, in Hisarlik in Anatolia, close to the seacoast in what is now Canakkale province in northwest Turkey, southwest of the Dardanelles under Mount Ida.
A new city of 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 the 1870s a wealthy German business man Heinrich Schliemann excavated the area. Later excavations revealed several cities built in succession to each other. One of the earlier cities (Troy VII) is often identified with Homeric Troy. While such an identity is disputed, the site has been successfully identified with the city called Wilusa in Hittite texts; Ilion (which goes back to earlier Wilion with a digamma) is thought to be the Greek rendition of that name.
The archaeological site of Troy was added to the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1998.
Details concerning Troy were transmitted to the historical Greeks entirely through the written Epic Cycle, of which Homer's Iliad is the familiar part. Other epic material, such as Cypria was known in Antiquity but is lost to us. Further ancient material is only known to us in much later literary recensions, such as the fourth century CE Posthomerica of Quintus of Smyrna. Aside from this mass of material, modern philologists have laboured to tease out the few discernible threads of the earlier legendary material that preceded Homer, from which he worked.
According to Greek mythology Troy was an ancient city in the Troad region of Anatolia. It is presented anachronistically in legend as if it were part of the Greek culture of city-states. Since the entire state comprised more than the city of Troy itself, anyone from its jurisdiction, which was mainly the Troad, might be termed "Trojan" in ancient literature. An alternative classical Greek and Latin term was "Teucrians", a name taken from an ethnicity of the south Troad. Troy was known for its riches gained from port trade with east and west, fancy clothes, iron production, and massive defensive walls. The major language spoken there and the derivative cultures remain uncertain. Legend for the most part ignores language and makes the presumption that Trojans were fluent in Greek.
The Trojan royal kinship, in Greek eyes, traced its descent from the Pleiad Electra and Zeus, the parents of Dardanus. According to Greek myths, Dardanus was originally from Arcadia but according to Roman myths, he was originally from Italy, having crossed over to Asia Minor from the island of Samothrace, where he met King Teucer. Teucer was himself also a coloniser from Attica, and treated Dardanus with respect. Eventually Dardanus married Teucer's daughters, and founded Dardania (later ruled by Aeneas). Upon Dardanus' death, the Kingdom was passed to his grandson Tros, who called the people Trojans and the land Troad, after himself. Ilus, son of Tros, founded the city of Ilium (Troy) that he called after himself. Zeus gave Ilus the Palladium. Poseidon and Apollo built the walls and fortifications around Troy for Laomedon, son of Ilus the younger. When Laomedon refused to pay, Poseidon flooded the land and demanded the sacrifice of Hesione to a sea monster. Pestilence came and the sea monster snatched away the people of the plain.
In Sardis a self-identified Heracleid dynasty ruled for 505 years until the time of Candaules. The dynasty's founding myth legitimizes their rule by asserting that one generation before the Trojan War, Heracles captured Troy and killed Laomedon and his sons, except for young Priam. Priam later became king. During his reign, the Mycenaean Greeks invaded and captured Troy in the Trojan War . The Ionians, Cimmerians, Phrygians, Milesians of Sinope and Lydians moved into Asia Minor. The Persians invaded in 546 BCE.
Several far-flung tribes claimed descent from the Trojans: the Paeonians, the Elymi of Egesta, and the west Libyan Maxyes. The Trojan ships transformed into naiads, who rejoiced to see the wreckage of Odysseus' ship.
Some famous Trojans are: Dardanus (founder of Troy), Laomedon, Ganymede, Priam and his children , Tithonus, Corythus, Aeneas and Brutus. Kapys, Boukolion and Aisakos were Trojan princes who had naiad wives. Some of the Trojan allies were the Lycians, the Ethiopians led by Memnon, and the Amazons, led by their Queen Hippolyta. The Aisepid nymphs were the naiads of the Trojan River Aisepos. Pegsis was the naiad of the River Granicus near Troy. "Helen of Troy" was born not in Troy, but in Sparta, of which she was queen until she eloped with Paris to Troy.
Mount Ida in Asia Minor is where Ganymede was abducted by Zeus, where Anchises was seduced by Aphrodite, where Aphrodite gave birth to Aeneas, where Paris lived as a shepherd, where the nymphs lived, where the "Judgement of Paris" took place, where the Greek gods watched the Trojan War, where Hera distracted Zeus with her seductions long enough to permit the Achaeans, aided by Poseidon, to hold the Trojans off their ships, and where Aeneas and his followers rested and waited until the Greeks set out for Greece. Buthrotos (or Buthrotum) was a city in Epirus where Helenus, the Trojan seer, built a replica of Troy. Aeneas landed there and Helenus foretold his future.
Ancient Greek historians placed the Trojan War variously in the 12th, 13th or 14th century BCE: Eratosthenes to 1184 BCE, Herodotus to 1250 BCE, Douris to 1334 BCE.
In the Iliad, the Achaeans set up their camp near the mouth of the river Scamander (presumably modern Karamenderes), 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 kilometers from the coast today, but the ancient mouths of alleged Scamander, some 3,000 years ago, were about that distance inland,Natural History, V,33, Pliny the Elder, tr. H. Rackham, W. S. Jones and D. E. Eichholz, Loeb Classical Library. pouring into a large bay which formed a natural harbour, but 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.
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 work the Aeneid. The Greeks and Romans took for a fact the historicity of the Trojan War, and in 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 the alleged tombs of the Homeric heroes Achilles and Patroclus.
In November 2001, geologists John C. Kraft from the University of Delaware and John V. Luce from Trinity College, Dublin presented the results Iliad, Discovery. 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.
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 Tubingen recently demonstrated that the name of Priam is connected to the Luwian compound Priimuua, which means 'exceptionally courageous'. '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.
A small minority of contemporary writers argue that Homeric Troy was not in Anatolia, but located elsewhere: England,Iman Wilkens, Where Troy Once Stood, (Groningen 2005), p. 68. Croatia, and Scandinavia have been proposed. These theories have not been accepted by mainstream scholars.
The layers of ruins in the citadel at Hisarlik are numbered Troy I Troy IX, with various subdivisions:
Troy I 30002600 (Western Anatolian EB 1)
Troy II 26002250 (Western Anatolian EB 2)
Troy III 22502100 (Western Anatolian EB 3 [early])
Troy IV 21001950 (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: ca. 1300–1190 BC, most likely setting for Homer's story
Troy VIIb1: 12th century BCE
Troy VIIb2: 11th century BCE
Troy VIIb3: until ca. 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.
The first city 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.
Troy VI was destroyed around 1300 BCE, probably by an earthquake. Only a single arrowhead was found in this layer, and no remains of bodies.
Troy VIIa, 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.
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 fourth century as the eastern capital of the Roman Empire. 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.
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. 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.
In 1868 the German, self-taught archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann visited Calvert and secured permission to excavate Hisarlik. In the 1870s 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 Hisarlik have become known as Priam's Treasure. They were acquired from him by the Berlin museums, but significant doubts about their authenticity persist.
After Schliemann, the site was further excavated under the direction of Wilhelm Dorpfeld (1893/4) and later Carl Blegen (1932-8). These excavations have shown that there were at least nine cities built one on top of each other at this site.
In 1988 excavations were resumed by a team of the University of Tubingen 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 Tubingen 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.
In summer 2006 the excavations continued under the direction of Korfmann's colleague Ernst Pernicka, with a new digging permit.
Hittite and Egyptian evidence
In the 1920s the Swiss scholar Emil Forrer claimed that placenames found in Hittite texts — Wilusa and Taruisa — should be identified with Ilium and Troia respectively. He further noted that the name of Alaksandus, king of Wilusa, mentioned in one of the Hittite texts is quite similar to the name of Prince Alexandros or Paris, of Troy.
An unnamed Hittite king wrote a letter to the king of the Ahhiyawa, treating him as an equal and implying that Miletus (Millawanda) was controlled by the Ahhiyawa, and also referring to an earlier "Wilusa episode" involving hostility on the part of the Ahhiyawa. This people has been identified with the Homeric Greeks (Achaeans). The Hittite king was long held to be Mursili II (ca 1321-1296), but since the 1980s his son Hattusili III(1265-1240) is commonly preferred, although Mursili's other son Muwatalli (ca 1296-1272) is still considered a possibility.
The nation T-R-S is mentioned as one of the "Peoples of the Sea" in ancient Egyption inscriptions.
An Egyptian inscription at Deir al-Madinah records a victory of Ramesses III over Sea Peoples, including some named Tursha (spelled [twrs3] in Egyptian script). These are probably the same as the earlier Teresh (found written as [trs.w]) of the Merneptah Stele, commemorating Merneptahs victory in a Libyan campaign at about 1220 BCE. Although this may be too early for the Trojan War, some scholars have connected the name to the city mentioned in Hittite records as Taruisas, or Troy.
These identifications were rejected by many scholars as being improbable or at least unprovable. Trevor Bryce in 1998 championed them in his book The Kingdom of the Hittites, citing a recovered piece of the so-called Manapa-Tarhunda letter, which refers to the kingdom of Wilusa as beyond the land of the Seha (known in classical times as the Caicus) river, and near the land of Lazpa (Lesbos Island).
Recent evidence 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 archaeological Troy and of the Achaeans with the Ahhiyawa remain controversial, but gained enough popularity during the 1990s to be considered a majority opinion.
Trojan language and script
The language of Trojans is unknown, although several Trojan names may be identified as Luwian. The status of the so-called Trojan script is still disputable.
Troy 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 progenitor of all of them is undoubtedly that promulgated by Virgil in the Aeneid, tracing the ancestry of the founders of Rome, more specifically the Julio-Claudian dynasty, to the Trojan prince Aeneas. The heroes of Troy, both those noted in the epic texts or those purpose-invented, continued to perform the role of founder for the nations of Early Medieval Europe.George Huppert, "The Trojan Franks and their Critics" Studies in the Renaissance 12 (1965), pp. 227-241. Denys Hay noted the widespread adoption of Trojan forebears as an authentication of national status, in Europe: the Emergence of an Idea (Edinburgh 1957). The Roman de Troie was common cultural ground for European governing classes,A. Joly first traced the career of the Roman de Troie in Benoit de Sainte-More et le Roman de Troie (Paris 1871). for whom a Trojan pedigree was gloriously ancient, and it established the successor-kingdoms of which they were direct heirs as equals of the Romans. A Trojan pedigree justified the occupation of parts of Rome's erstwhile territories (Huppert 1965).
The Franks filled the lacunae of their legendary origins with Trojan and pseudo-Trojan names; in Fredegar's seventh-century chronicle of Frankish history, Priam appears as the first king of the Franks.Exinde origo Francorum fuit. Priamo primo rege habuerant, The Trojan origin of Franks and France was such an established article of faith that in 1714 the learned Nicolas Freret was Bastilled for showing through historical criticism that the Franks had been Germanic, a sore point counter to Valois and Bourbon propaganda.Larousse du XIXe siecle sub "Freret", noted by Huppert 1965.
Similarly Geoffrey of Monmouth traces the legendary Kings of the Britons to a supposed descendant of Aeneas called Brutus. Snorri Sturluson, in the Prologue to his Prose Edda, converts several half-remembered characters from Troy into characters from Norse mythology, and refers to them having made a journey across Europe towards Scandinavia, setting up kingdoms as they went.
Today there is a Turkish town called Truva in the vicinity of the archaeological site, but this town has grown up recently to service the tourist trade. The archaeological site is officially called Troia by the Turkish government and appears as such on many maps.
A large number of tourists visit the site each year, mostly coming from Istanbul by bus or by ferry via Canakkale, the nearest major town about 50 km to the north-east. The visitor sees a highly commercialised site, with a large wooden horse built as a playground for children, then shops and a museum. The archaeological site itself is, as a recent writer said, "a ruin of a ruin," because the site has been frequently excavated, and because Schliemann's archaeological methods were very destructive: in his conviction that the city of Priam would be found in the earliest layers, he demolished many interesting structures from later eras, including all of the house walls from Troy II. For many years also the site was unguarded and was thoroughly looted. However what remains, particularly if put into context by one of the knowledgeable professional guides to the site, is an illuminating insight into civilizations of the Bronze Age, if not to the legends.
References and further reading
Carter, Jane Burr; Morris, Sarah P. The Ages of Homer. University of Texas Press, 1995. ISBN 0292712081.
Easton, D.F.; Hawkins, J.D.; Sherratt, A.G.; Sherratt, E.S. "Troy in Recent Perspective", Anatolian Studies, Issue 52. (2002), pp. 75109.
Fantasies of Troy: Classical Tales and the Social Imaginary in Medieval and Early Modern Europe, edited by Alan Shepard and Stephen D. Powell. Toronto: Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies, 2004.
Ilios. The city and country of the Trojans: the results of researches and discoveries on the site of Troy and through the Troad in the years 1871-72-73-78-79;
* Troy on the Internet Educational website, University of Cincinnati
* The Identification of Troy by Jan Sammer
* the Troad (with an image of a model of Troy II)
* Geology corresponds with Homers description of ancient Troy, article by Neil Thomas on the University of Delaware site.