THE ANCIENT CITY OF TROY (TROIA)
First, there was Iliad... Troy (Troia) -where history blends with the legend- is special from the point of literature and mythology besides being an open-air workshop with its location and history for modern archaeology. Other than the holy texts, there is not any other book in our past that has affected people's' history like the epic Iliad of Homer. The Roman Emperors have accepted Aeneas, son of Aphrodite as their ancestor and likewise, most of the European nobility including French and British dynasties; have tried to set up a linkage with the Trojan heroes for hundreds of years. In fact, the Institute of chivalry of the Middle Ages was nothing more than an elaboration on being like those heroes.
It was the key force who controlled the important trade routes owing to its strategical location on the Dardanelles that connects Aegean Coast and the Black Sea via Sea of Marmara and Bosphorus. Trade vessels wouldn't be able to cope with the strong seasonal northeast winds in sync with the surface currents and thus had to stay at the Troia Harbor for days or even weeks waiting for the winds subside. It is said that those winds brought the ancient settlement its legendary wealth. (Alas, that glory is “gone with the wind).
It had been established in 3000s BC along with a defense system and has witnessed numerous fierce wars throughout the history due to its location between Aegean, Asia, and Europe. It has been rebuilt after each of destruction. In Hittite documents in 2000 BC it is mentioned as Wilusa of Troas region, which evolved as; Wilios - Ilios and Taruisa – Troy. Homer describes the “Holy Ilios” as “fortified with strong walls”, “has strong towers”, “with wide streets”, and “windy”.
Who knows what the Achaeans were after when they sacrificed Iphigenia with the blink of an eye and set off for the city with more than a thousand ships and hundred thousand troops; Helena who fled to Troia with Paris to avoid the consequences of the first beauty contest in the world or the fabled riches of the ancient city itself.. According to Iliad which seems like a tale of valor at first sight but tells about the tragedy and destruction of war; whole Anatolian peoples did side the Trojans like the Lycians did under the leadership of Glaucus and Sarpedon when Achaeans started their campaign against Troia with an immense army that would doom the area for the following ten years. The Trojan War thought to have taken place in the 12th century BC, happens to be the first East vs. West War. Despite the thousands of years that have piled upon this most pointless war in the history, every ruler who has marched to east or west felt the need to take a side like the gods on the Mt. Ida, nearby. If you are interested in history, politics or arts, you should visit this city that had been inspiring humanity since as long as the beginning of time.
It is accounted that Xerxes I of Persia visited Troia in 480 BC and sacrificed a thousand cattle at Temple of Athena for Hector and all the heroes before marching on to Greece. Likewise, Alexander the Great donated his shield to the Temple of Athena after visiting the tomb of Achilles in 334 BC. Latins, when they invaded Constantinople in 1204, have based their actions here on destructive deeds of Achaeans in the ancient city. In those days conquest of Constantinople by the Ottomans was a matter of time and both the citizens and the Europeans were anxious that Turks, whose ancestor was Turkos from Troia would take their vengeance of the place. It is a common belief that Sultan Mehmet II had visited the ancient city after the conquest and was glad to have taken vengeance of Hector. It was not coincidental that the British battleship, the pilot of the Allied Powers' joint navy in WW I who was guiding them through Dardanelles was named as Agamemnon, the commander of the Achaeans.
Is it completely Homer's intense imagination that fascinates us, or is there a historic nucleus from where it all started? Do you think is it possible that famous Trojan Horse of Odysseus which was incorporated to the original Iliad was an attribution to Poseidon who weakened the city walls with earthquakes? Is it also a mere coincidence that the tumulus which is thought to be Achilles' Tomb and according to the Iliad where Cassandra was sacrificed by the Achaeans, is called “The Maiden's Death Hill” by the Turkish people for hundreds of years.
When you visit the site with us, the holy Ilion Constantine the Great wanted to make “Nova Roma” before he decided on former Byzantium Constantinople, you may suddenly find yourself in the glorious days of Priamos and search for the answers yourself on-the-spot. But beware; if you run into an Achaean and he has a present for you, you better not accept it.
It was excavated by Dorpfeld and Blegen after F. Calvert and H. Schliemann, who was searching for Priamos' legendary treasury, but it was Professor Manfred Korfmann who made the site a worldwide place of interest with his enthusiasm and we think he already has a rank amongst the Trojan heroes.
Let him be blessed by KASKAL.KUR and APPALUNAS!
THE LAYERS OF TROY
TROY II. (2500 - 2300 BC)
The second settlement at Hisarlik was built on top of the ruins of the layer I. It seems that the inhabitants of Troia I. completely reconstructed the citadel after the disaster. There is evidence that the culture of the layer I. continued in this period. Megarons were the general style of houses. Some of them were quite large and some of them had more rooms but the design was basically the same.
During recent excavations, a wall from the biggest megaron was uncovered, under a cone which was used as a measuring point and left unexcavated by Schliemann. The cone was excavated by Prof. Gunter Mansfeld, one of the archeologists in the German team. As well as some findings belonging to different periods, the mudbrick wall of the biggest megaron-which can be accepted as the palace of the layer II- was unearthed. The plaster of the brick wall was found in very good condition. Due to a great fire, the plaster and the bricks turned red. This 4500-year-old palace wall was buried again at the end of the 1991 excavation season to preserve it for future generations.
The layer II had a roughly circular plan about 110m. in diameter. It was a little larger than Troia I. The powerful defensive fortification wall was built of relatively small unworked stones and had a broadly sloping outer face. Sloping walls are stronger against earthquakes and easier to build. The upper part of the wall was supported by a vertical superstructure of sun-dried brick. Small rectangular towers, at intervals of approximately 10m. would have strengthened the defensive arrangements. In some places, the wall is seen to have been built in separate parallel sections. These are the different building phases of layer II. One of the early Troia II. towers was reconstructed in 1992.
There were two main gates; one on the southeast, the other one on the southwest. Both display o peculiar plan with fairly large covered corridors which ran directly beneath a huge tower and jutted out from the wall. The sides of the corridor were shored up with vertical timbers. They presumably also supported transverse beams to prevent the stonework of the tower falling into the corridor.
The southwestern gateway is better preserved and the roadway, which was paved with great slabs of limestone, rose 5m. to the level of the gate by means of a ramp 21 m. long and 7.55m wide which was bordered on each side by a stone wall. It was however too steep for wheeled traffic. The southeastern gate has the same plan as the southwestern except for the paved ramp. There is another small gateway about 8m. long and 5m. wide to the south which leads to a cobbled court. The findings show us that the inhabitants of Troia II. had quite a high standard of living. The treasure found by Schliemann of gold, silver, electron (an alloy of gold and silver) and bronze all belong to this period. Objects included among this treasure make it clear that the women of this time led a life of relative luxury. The artisans who made these handicrafts were very skillful. The potters started using the potter's started using the potter's wheel and made beautiful ceramics. Two-handled depas for wine were characteristic pots of this period.
A vast amount of jewelry and traces of fire led Schliemann to believe that this level was of Priam and Homer. Latter, with the help of architect Wilhelm Dörpfeld, he accepted Troia VI as the city of Priam. However, the American expedition concluded that the Troia of Priam was level VIIa.
Troia II was burned down by a warrior nation.
TROY III. IV. V. (2300 - 1700 BC)
After the disaster that brought Troia II. to an end, the survivors rebuilt the whole town. The absence of any fresh influence from outside the Troad indicates that there was no break in cultural continuity. The same people followed some way of life and clung to the same traditions.
Probably the invaders of Troia II. left this place and emigrated somewhere else, or mixing with the natives they lost their own character and lived together, for a long era, through Troia III. IV. and V. till the end of the Early Bronze Age.
Although each of these settlements had a greater population and occupied a larger area, none could create a better civilization than its predecessor. Each was like e village with irregular blocks of houses, separated by narrow streets. This can be explained in terms of people living in fear of another disaster. Actually, during this period Anatolia had many invasions. The Hittites, in particular, became a great power at this time. Because Schliemann removed all the walls of these periods, there are hardly any remains left today, nor do we know what brought each of them to an end.
During recent excavations in the southern excavations in the southern part of Schliemann's north-south trench, some sturdy walls were uncovered. These walls, which look like defense walls, maybe the city walls of these periods. Further excavations will enable us to get more information about these periods.
TROY VI (1700 - 1250 BC)
The findings of Troy VI. indicate to us a break with the past and a course of gradual change and development. Powerful fortifications and free-standing houses show that these people were highly advanced in military engineering, masonry and town planning.
Today we can only see the remains of the fortification wall and a few houses, along with the outer periphery of the Acropolis. In the central part of the citadel, there are almost no remains of VI because the top of the mound was shaved off in Hellenistic and Roman times in order to provide an open court around the temple of Athena.
The monumental fortification walls of VI and its towers were built of squared blocks of hard durable limestone. There are five gateways, which were designated Vlu, Vlv, Vlt, Vls, and Vlr.
The main eastern gateway is a passage about 2m. wide and 5m. long between overlapping walls. At the end of this corridor, the gateway turns sharply inward and here there was once actually a door that could be opened and closed. As seen today, it was very well planned to resist attack.
The southwestern part of the wall and its tower, which we see at the entrance of the ruins today, is still in good condition. But the southern part of this wall was badly damaged when a roman bouleuterion (Senate) was built over it. On this wall, large limestone blocks were freely used in the lower part; smaller stones in the upper. The sloping outer face of the wall was divided into straight segments by vertical offsets.
What were these vertical offsets for? Were they merely decorative or had they some purpose?
An American architect I guided through the ruins gave me one possible explanation which seems to make sense. He suggested that the Trojans constructed the city wall, block by block and that the offsets were intended to disguise the weakest part of the construction, the point where two blocks interlocked. The offsets are carved so as to be easy for an enemy to observe, the intention was presumably to give an attacker a false impression of the strength of the weakest part of the wall. But the existence of the same sort of carving on a house wall inside the city walls, make us believe that in fact, it was merely decorative. Some visitors I guide through the site believe that this was an extraordinary effort just for decoration.
It is true that this was no easy task for the bronze age when they did not have iron tools, but throughout history, men have gone to great time and expense merely for decoration.
The tower was added to this wall later as further protection for the east gate. If you compare the masonry of the wall and the tower you can easily see the different workmanship.
The northeastern tower is a huge tower with very handsome stonework. Inside is a well or cistern. It is too large to be an ordinary well, too deep for an ordinary cistern. Probably it was built for both purposes. This tower was built as an observation tower, dominating not only the Acropolis but the whole Trojan plain as well as enclosing the well-cistern within the fortification, thus ensuring a safe supply of water in emergencies. On the south part of the tower, there is a side gate that facilitated communication between the tower and the outside world. The stairway on the northern side of the tower is in good condition but it is believed that this was built in the Hellenistic period.
The wall between the northeastern tower and the east gate was cut across by a Roman foundation.
The southern gate is the principal entrance to the fortress. It was a simple opening, 3.30 m. wide with a relatively broad street which ascended from the gate towards the citadel. The gateway was protected by a tower about 7 m. wide. It is exactly the same as the eastern tower. We wonder if this was the famous gate mentioned in the Iliad as the "Scaean gate" where the duel between Achilles and Hector took place. Between the south gate and southwest gate, for a distance of some 121 m., lies the southern part of the fortification wall. The greater part of this wall was badly damaged by the construction of a small Odeon and other public buildings in the late classical and Roman times. At the west end of this wall, there was a gateway which for some reason was later blocked up. What could this reason be?
Today we all accept that the fortification walls of Troy VI were used during Troy VII a. The American expedition proved that of Priam was the first Phase of Troy VII. According to Prof. Fritz Schachermeyr, the Austrian archeologist, and Prof. Ekrem Akurgal, the Turkish archeologist, Troy VI was the city of Priam. Whether it was VI. or VII. the same city walls were used in both periods. That means these walls are certainly the walls of Priam's city.
In the light of this knowledge and with the help of a little imagination, the blocking up can be explained by the wooden horse story. As we take this mythological approach, we want to make you think, though as yet this theory cannot be proved. In fact, if we examine this gate carefully, we can see evidence of its having been enlarged. That is, the Trojans tore down the wall to enlarge the gate to take the huge wooden horse into the citadel. Soon after this, instead of rebuilding the gate, which would have taken time, they completely closed it off using unworked stones.
This explanation makes sense if the wooden horse story actually occurred as told in the legend, otherwise, there must be another explanation.
Freestanding houses of different designs and megaron-like large houses were characteristic of this period. The pillared house, a megaron with the roof supported by wooden pillars, was introduced. Examining these houses and others, we can say that building techniques reached their full development and some powerful authority controlled the planning of the houses in the Acropolis.
At this level, black and gray Minoan pottery have been found in a wide variety of characteristic shapes.
The layer VI was brought to its end by a violent earthquake.
TROY VIIa (1250 - 1180 BC)
After the earthquake that laid Troy VI in ruins, the survivors immediately repaired the fortification walls, reconstructed the old houses and built many new ones. The same people continued to occupy the same place through Troy VIIa with a direct, unbroken continuation of the culture of Troy VI.
After the earthquake, the upper part of the great wall was rebuilt and some additions were made. On the eastern side of the fortress, a new wall was added to the older wall which overlapped the east gateway, but this extension was destroyed during the excavations.
The south gateway was also repaired and it continued to be the principal entrance to the citadel. The way through the opening was paved with large flat stones. In the middle of the paved area an underground drain, which was made to carry off rainwater from the upper part of the Acropolis, can still be seen today.
The houses which were found within the outer ring of the Acropolis were smaller and roughly built because the Acropolis at this time was obliged to shelter a larger population than its predecessor. The walls were thick and sturdy, but no real effort was made to build handsome structures.
In this period in almost every house, large storage jars were set deeply into the ground and covered with a heavy stone slab. The size of these jars ranged from 1.75m. to 2m. in height and 1m. to 1.25m. in diameter. These large jars were regularly used for the storage of solids-as well as liquid supplies for an emergency.
The numerous small, roughly built houses everywhere in the Acropolis and innumerable storage jars indicate that a large number of people sheltered within the fortification from an invasion. This and some traces of fire and fighting like arrowheads and spearheads on the walls and abundance of human skeletons. Especially a human jaw cut by a sword makes us think that the layer VIIa was of Priam which was besieged and captured by the Achaeans and destroyed by fire.
This is the opinion of the American Cincinnati University team but according to Prof. F. Schachermeyr and Prof. Ekrem Akurgal, Troy VI was the city of Priam. With fine fortifications, ingenious design and carefully constructed buildings, Troy VI fit in well with the Iliad.
"Priam and his sons Paris and Hector or else the king and princes are known to us by their names in myth, must have lived during this glorious period. To take this powerful city the Greeks fought for ten years. They could only achieve their goal after the city had been destroyed by an earthquake. Since the Greeks well knew that they owed their victory to Poseidon, the Earthshaker, they offered him a wooden horse for his great help"
The horse was the symbol of Poseidon.
TROY VIIb. (1180 - 1000 BC)
After the departure of the Achaeans, the citadel was reoccupied by the survivors. The first phase of Troy VIIb. followed the same way of life as Troy VIIa. but later changed as a result of migrations. This stratum too was destroyed by fire.
TROY VIII (1000 - 85 BC)
Troia VII was the first Greek settlement on the site. At this time Greek culture was dominant and this stratum a typical Greek colony. A religious area with a place for worshipping and sacrificing, just outside the western part of the Troy VI city wall, was built in this period. The Persian king Xerxes stayed here and sacrificed 1000 oxen to the Greek gods on his way to Greece (480 BC)
After bribing the enemy gods with the 1000 oxen, Xerxes had a bridge of ships over the Dardanelles. But the bridge was destroyed by the strong current. Then he punished the Dardanelles by whipping the waters 300 times (!) Later two new bridges were built. One for the animals, the other for the soldiers.
Alexander the Great, on his way to Granicus, stayed here and made valuable offerings. (334 BC) he also ordered Lysimachus, one of his commanders, to build the Temple of Athena.
TROY IX (85 BC - 400 or 600 AD)
The top stratum, which was built on the ruins of the earlier settlement at Hisarlik, was a Hellenistic and Roman city. This last settlement which is known as Novum llium or "New llion" made great progress at the time of the early Roman emperors. The great Roman emperors chose the Trojans as their ancestors. Augustus especially showed great interest in the city and enlarged and beautified the Temple of Athena.
Also at this time the town spread all over the ridge and was bigger than it had ever been in its long history.
To supply water for the city, water pipes and aqueducts were built. An aqueduct which is still in good condition can be seen today in Kemerdere village, 14 km. from the site, on the mountainside.
The greater part of the city is still unexcavated. In the excavated area, a Roman Odeon (music theatre) and a bouleuterion (council chamber-senate), built over the southern part of the fortification wall of Troy VI, can be seen, also a Roman bath opposite the Odeon and a few marble pieces of the Temple of Athena.
Only eight rows of seats from the Odeon are relatively well preserved. The marble seat on the eighth row was the imperial box and the changing room on the left of the stage was marble surfaced same as the orchestra.
The Odeon was probably a covered construction, for there is no channel for rainwater.
The floor of the Roman bath was once covered with beautiful mosaics. The bath and the mosaics were uncovered by the Cincinnati team. The mosaics were not protected and tourists too them as small souvenirs of the site and nothing was left behind.
The temple of Athena was built in the northeast part of the Hisarlık mound. This temple was a huge building with thick marble columns. From this Doric temple only a few marble capitals, a few marble capitals, a few marble blocks from its ceiling and a piece of the stone pavement from its terrace can be seen today. The eastern part of the two parallel temenos walls which surrounded the terrace is still standing. Some of the marble pieces from the temple were burned by local villagers to produce lime and some of them were possibly used as gravestones. For example, in Kumkoy graveyard down on the plain, near the point where the river Simois joins the Scamander, and in a graveyard near Ciplak Village. Also, it is possible that the material in the graveyard of Eski Kumkale, an old Ottoman harbor at the mouth of the Scamander, was taken from the same source.
Down the northeast slope of the mound lies the large theatre. The stage was excavated previously and new excavations are being carried out every year. The seating capacity was probably six or eight thousand.
Partly because a greater part is unexcavated and partly because of not having any written records from this era, we do not know much about this settlement. According to recent records, llion was completely destroyed by the Roman Legate Fimbria, during the Mithridatic Wars (85 BC). Soon after that Emperor Sulla provided some financial relief for rebuilding the city. This was because llion was recognized as the mother city of the Romans. But it especially benefited from this legendary connection during the reign of the Julio-Claudians. At this time the city experienced a second "building boom". Augustus visited the site in 20 BC the temple of Athena, bouleuterion and the big theatre was restored or rebuilt with the financial relief provided by Augustus. Because of llion's legendary connection with Rome its special status as a "free and federate city" was renewed periodically. Many Roman emperors visited the site. Caracalla was one of them. Emperor Constantine the Great also visited the site in the early fourth century AD. He decided to build a new capital for the Roman Empire in the east and thought of establishing it on the site. But the strategic importance of llion in trade had completely lost its place to Byzantium. Because of this great change, he passed over llion and moved to Byzantium. He rebuilt the whole city and made it the capital of the Roman Empire, and the name of the city became Constantinople.
After losing its importance in trade, llion became more and more neglected. Only some tourists were visiting the neighboring tumuli which were identified as tombs of the Greek and Trojan heroes. Then for a few more years the Trojans offered sacrifices at the Trojans offered sacrifices at the ancient altars, but with the coming of Christianity, the city lost its importance completely. In the fourth century, the town became the seat of a bishopric.
Although the new excavation team is getting new information about this period today still we do not know much about this settlement or what brought this era to its end. Probably a severe earthquake in the early sixth century tumbled down the city and the people left this place forever.
Though destroyed, Troy remained. Homer and Virgil have kept it alive right up to our time.
The year 2018 was announced as "The Year of Troy" by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Troy's getting registered on UNESCO World Heritage List. The project started to be discussed by 2011 and then two years later, the present design was approved out of 150 different projects and with a break in 2015, the construction started again and finally opened to the public on 10th October 2018.
The museum is built at a large space of 11.314 m2 on 100 acres of land at the entrance of the ancient Troy ruins and the exhibition hall is around 3,000 m2 exhibition hall in the Museum of Troy divided into 7 sections following the below headlines:
- Troas Site Archeological Findings
- Bronze Age of Troia
- Homer's Iliad and The War of Troia
- Ilion & Troas in Ancient History
- Eastern Rome & Ottoman Era
- The Archeological History and The Traces of Troia
|Sections||Excavation Areas||Artifacts / Treasury|
|Basement Floor||Assos, Tenedos, Parion, Alexandria Troas, Smintheion, Lampsakos, Tyhmbria, Tavolia, and Imbros||Clay figurines, medical instruments, stone, and bone made tools, masks, plates and other utensils, statues and glass made items|
|Ramp 1||Besiktepe, Kumtepe and Sivritepe Tumulus Tombs||Amphoras, idols, grinders, ax, loom weights, bone needles, Bronze Age friezes and pieces of tin|
|1st Floor||Troia II and Troia VI-VII||Bronze Age developments: wall building, weaving, pottery making, and cooking|
|Ramp 2||Transition Period Between Bronze Age and Classical Era||Iron Age, Protogeometric Pottery as a symbol of the ongoing trade on the Aegean area|
|2nd Floor||Archaic Period to Hellenistic Era||Maps of Troas Cities (Neandria, Kebrene, Larissa) as on Homer's Iliad - Huge items decorating the floor making a reference to agoras and large courtyards of temples|
|Ramp 3||Roman Empire||Maps, notes, illustrations, cross, and earrings displayed|
|3rd Floor||Ottoman Empire||Settlements around Canakkale and Dardanelles and another corner sharing detailed information about the process of excavations up to 2005|
Treasury & Findings are Coming Back Home
The museum hosts over 2,000 artifacts/treasury while more than 40,000 are still in the store and planned to be exhibited in the near future. Among those, Troia treasury and artifacts from The Museum of Anatolian Civilizations in Ankara and Istanbul Archeology Museum.
Among the worldwide famous, "Priam’s Treasure" was taken away by Schliemann who smuggled it to Germany via Athens and then from there, it was taken to Russia after World War II and it has been displayed at the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow as one of the most prestigious treasures.
What Else is Around Troy
- The Temple of Apollo Smintheus
- Alexandria Troas Ancient City
- Assos Ancient City
- Parion Antique City
- The Altar of Zeus
- Mt. Ida - Kazdagi National Park
- Bozcaada (Tenedos)
- Gokceada (Imroz)
- Gallipoli Peninsula Historical National Park
Troia Tour Route from Canakkale to Assos
From Troy to Assos, the project is still ongoing passing through beautiful remote villages and as Travel Atelier, we will be more than happy to design a cultural itinerary for the hike and history lovers by assigning one of our professional tour guides specialized in archaeology and history.