"She, Helen, brought to Ilium her dowry,
destruction." [Aeschylus, "Agamemnon, 406.]
"Was this the face that launched a thousand ships,
And burnt the topless towers of Ilium?" [Marlow, "The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus, scene xiv.]
"The Iliad emanates from a world that was witty, ironic, mordant, decorative, compassionate, energetic and human. It is the "first poem that gives equal dignity" to Trojans and Achaeans and shows the enemy in a compassionate and noble light. Of the Iliads great power and influence, there has never been any argument. Of its historical truth and its origins, there has never been anything but."[John Fleischman, Smithsonian]
"We search for Troy because of Homer. Homers Iliad, the story of the siege of Troy by an army of Greeks under the great king Agamemnon, is the wellspring of Western literature. The characters resonate still, instantly recognizable in our imaginations Agamemnon, Achilles, Hector, Helen, Paris, Priam, and Hecuba. It is the very first poem that is distinctly European. Outside of religion, it is one of our oldest stories." [John Fleischman, Smithsonian]
"The whole complex associated with Troy the Trojan War, the Trojan Horse belongs to the oldest uninterrupted memories and effective components of European culture. The Trojan War in particular has become the symbol of war per se in art and literature from Homer, Aeschylus and Euripides, through Chaucer, Shakespeare and Giraudoux, up to Christa Wolf. The imaginative reality this war produced has long bypassed the question of its historical reality. Yet the fascination emanating from the giant walls of the citadels ruin on the spur of Hisarlik still grips the visitor today." [Joachim Latacz, Berytus Archaeological Studies, American University of Beirut, 1986.]
"Poetry makes immortal all that is best and most beautiful in the world." [Shelly]
"Troy was the setting of the great legendary war of the Greeks against the Trojans that the Greeks recalled centuries after it was believed to have taken place. The story of part of the Trojan War was told by a Greek poet named Homer in his epic work the Iliad. People reading the epic have wondered, almost ever since it was written, if there was any historical truth to the tale. One way to find out was to excavate the site of Hisarlik, which is believed to be the location f ancient Troy, and to search for clues that would confirm Homers description of it. Archaeologists also looked for evidence of an invasion that might represent the Greeks conquest of the city." [Amanda H. Podany, "The Trojan War" in The Origins of Greek Civilization: from the Bronze Age to the Polis ca. 2500-600 B.C. National Center for History in the Schools, 1991), p. 42.]
The name Troy as traced by Greek tradition went back to the eponymous (legendary person to whom a social or political groups attributes its origin and name) hero Tros, father of Ilus, father of Laomedon, father of Priam. Hence the variant names of the city Troas, Ilios, Ilion, Ilium, and of course the source of the title of Homers epic the Iliad.
To sail with the keel-less ships of the Bronze Age through the Hellespont into the Propontis required either waiting weeks for a favorable wind or hauling the cargo overland to central Anatolia. Either way, the last possible port was the Bay of Besik, the main harbor of Troy, where the Trojans exacted their tribute.
Born in 1822, son of a German pastor, young Heinrich Schliemann became fascinated with a picture book that depicted Troy in flames. His father told him the picture was fanciful and that Troy was only a fictional city. But the young Schliemann silently vowed to find it. He began his career as a grocery clerk in St. Petersburg, Russia. In 1850 he migrated to California where he earned a fortune in "banking activities" (short-weighing gold dust?). During the Crimean War he traded in indigo and saltpeter (shady dealing?) and became one of the richest men in Europe. With the leisure time and money to pursue his lifelong obsession, he engaged in a frenzy of self-education and mastered a dozen modern languages and the classical ones as well. In 1866 he visited Turkey and met the British consul, Frank Calvert, who convinced him that the Hill of Hisarlik was the site of ancient Troy. Schliemann concluded that the site completely agreed "with the description Homer gives . That hill seems," he wrote, "destined by nature to carry a great city there is no other place in the whole region to compare with it." Before beginning excavations the now middle-aged Schliemann sought a Greek wife and found her in the teenage Sophia. Together they undertook excavations. They labored for three years in withering heat, dust storms, rainy seasons and battering north winds while enduring the threat of scorpions and malaria. Their persistence resulted not only in discovering the long-lost Troy but in (May- June 1873) unearthing a fabulous treasure consisting of some 8, 830 objects, many of them gold, which Schliemann called "Priams Treasure."
"As soon as I had learnt to speak, my father related to me the great deeds of the Homeric heroes. I loved these stories; they enchanted me and transported me with the highest enthusiasm. The first impressions which a child receives abide with him during his whole life; and, though it was my lot, at the age of fourteen, to be apprentices in the warehouse of E. Ludwig Holtz in the small town of Furstenberg in Mecklenburg, instead of following the scientific career for which I felt an extraordinary predisposition, I always retained the same love for the famous men of antiquity which I had conceived for them in my first childhood." [Heinrich Schliemann, Troy and Its Remains, ed. by Philip Smith, New York, Arno Press, 1875]
"At last I was able to realize the dream of my whole life, and to visit at my leisure the scene of those events which had such an intense interest for me, and the country of my heroes whose adventures had delighted and comforted my childhood." [Heinrich Schliemann, Troy and Its Remains, ed. By Philip Smith, New York, Arno Press, 1875.]
Today "Hisarlik is a small place, a sandy stone-strewn ridge cut up into gullies and hummocks." [John Fleischman, Smithsonian]
"The high promontory called Hisarlik is only about 650 feet by 490 feet in total area and rises just 95 or so feet above the plain. Windy year-round, it commands a view of fertile farmlands to the west, though which the Scamander River flows north toward the Dardanelles." [James G. Ottaway, Jr., "New Assault on Troy," Archaeology (September-October, 1991), p. 56.]
"Freighted with history and legend, the stony ridge of Troy endured as a series of great citadels for 3,500 years. Archaeologists divide the complex site into nine principal strata. The oldest (or deepest) settlement, Troy I, survived as an early Bronze Age fortress for several hundred years. A sophisticated, innovative people built Troy II and its palaces, one of the splendid achievements of the age. [Schliemann unearthed the treasures he called Priams from this level.] The two successive strongholds Troy III and IV, dating as well from the Early Bronze Age, grew into substantial walled towns. But neither these fortresses, nor Troy V, attained the grandeur that was Troy II. As the Late Bronze Age dawned, a new ruling dynasty created the great and powerful Troy VI Homers Troy . Impoverished Troy VII rose from the rubble in the Late Bronze Age. Greek colonists tradition says, founded the town that grew into thriving Ilion, or Troy VIII. Over its ruins the Romans raised the city of Ilium, Troy IX, with its elaborate public architecture. archaeologists have discovered proof of habitation into the 13th century AD." [John Fleischman, Smithsonian]
A. Schliemann Troy Level II
After finding the treasure in 1873, Schliemann smuggled it out of Turkey and tried to sell it to several European museums. He then donated it to the Berlin Museum of Ethnology where they were on display until 1922 when they went to the Museum of Pre- and Early History. The city named him an honorary citizen.
During the early years of World War II, German authorities packed the treasures in three sealed boxes and stored them in a bank safe-deposit box. However, in 1941, fearing Allied air strikes, they were moved to a concrete bunker at the Berlin Zoo. There Soviet experts discovered them in 1945.
The Soviets moved them to Moscow in June of 1945, claiming them as compensation for the damage inflicted on the Soviet Union by the German war machine. And, they reasoned, this was fair turnabout for the art looted from Russian collections by Nazi soldiers.
For the duration of the Cold War the Soviets denied possession of the collection. Not until 1993 did the Russian Culture Minister Yevgeny Sidorov acknowledge that the treasure was indeed in Russia, part in the Puskin Museum in Moscow and pat in the Hermitage in ST. Petersburg, and that it belonged to the world.
D. Sixth city was probably Homers Troy may have been VIIa or there may have been no Trojan War
E. Dorpfelds Troy, Level VI
"Wilhelm Dorpfeld was an architect who helped Schliemann excavatge the Trojan site. In the spring of 1893, two years after Schlemanns death, Dorpfeld, financially aided by Sophie Schliemann and Kaiser Wilhelm III of Germany, returned to Troy to continue the excavation. Dorpfeld opened up the southern slope of Hisarlik in a great curve around the hill and concluded that the Troy of the great war was Troy VI, a level that represented a time period some 1000 years later than Schliemanns Troy II."
"If Homers Troy of the towering gates had a basis in fact, it was Troy VI that the Iliad immortalized. The imposing citadel, facing out toward the Aegean, stood as testament to the ingenuity and prowess of its creators. Enclosed in massive cut-stone walls [16 feet thick] topped by mud-brick ramparts and watchtowers, the fortress housed a magnificent town. Laid out in concentric terraces and transected by broad streets, Troy VI consisted of two tiers. The lower precincts contained stone manor houses, most likely private dwellings. Within an inner-wall stood temples and palaces, the heart of Hisarliks richest, most enduring citadel." [John Fleischman, Smithsonian.]
F. Carl Blegens Troy, Level VIIA
"Carl Blegen was a trained archaeologist and University of Cincinnati Professor of Archaeology. After spending many years in excavating Mycenaean sites, he received permission from the Turkish government to continue the excavation at Troy. His dig lasted for seven seasons from 1932-1938"
H. Archaeological Evidence Summary
"Heinrich Schliemanns conclusion was that level II represented the Troy of the Iliad. He believed that the richness of the objects found in connection with level II represented a city as wealthy as that described by Homer. AT the time of his excavation Mycenaean sites had not yet been explored, so Schliemann did not recognize that the pottery found in association with level II was earlier than that of the Mycenaeans. Since it was Mycenaean Greeks who fought the Trojans [it is likely] that the occupation of level I was too early to represent the time of the Trojan War."
"Archaeologists and historians are divided as to whether level VI or level VIIA is more likely to be the Troy of the Trojan War. Level VI includes grand buildings and Mycenaean pottery, but it was destroyed without fire and was not looted, which suggests that the city suffered from a natural disaster rather than an invasion. Level VII A, on the other hand, was burned and showed signs of people living under siege, as they would during a war. But the small houses and poor construction techniques of level VIIA show that the city would not have looked like the splendid place described by Homer. The city attacked by the Mycenaeans may have been either that of level VI or level VIIA." [Amanda H. Podany, "Archaeological Evidence from Troy," in The Origins of Greek Civilization: From the Bronze Age to the Polis ca. 2500-600 B.C. ( National Center for History in the Schools, 1991), p. 51.]
2. No archaeological proof that the Trojan War ever took place or ended with the destruction of Troy
"The Trojans traded regularly with the Mycenaeans, especially during the early fourteenth century B.C. This is seen in the large number of pieces of Mycenaean pottery that are found towards the end of the level VI period of occupation at Troy. On the other hand, no recognizably Trojan have been found in Greece. Perhaps the Greeks were obtaining textiles, horses, or even food from the Trojans.
"By the time of level VIIA at Troy, trade with the Mycenaean Greeks had decreased considerably." Perhaps this was because "the Mycenaeans, the Trojans, or both, had economic problems at the time," or it may have been because they had become enemies. [Podany, "The Trojan War," pp. 42-43.]
"The Dardanelles is the outlet for all the great rivers of the interior the Danube, the Don and the Dnieper that pour into the Black Sea. The water flows through the Bosporus and down the Sea of Marmara. As the land narrows, the westward current surges through the Dardanelles at an average of about three mile per hour. The current is often driven by a prevailing north wind that can hold for weeks and months at a time."
For the Bronze Age ships under sail and oar to make a successful run of the Dardanelles would have required a perfectly timed approach. And when the wind was not right, they would have had to wait in Besik Bay, the last safe harbor before the strait. They dragged their galleys up onto the sandy beach and camped until the wind changed, and in these latitudes the wait might be days, weeks, or even months.
"In the small hours of the night, the flocks move quietly over the hills from Troy until they reach Besik. Unobserved, the shepherd counts the campfires on the beach below, looking for new arrivals. Long before dawn, the princes in the citadel at Troy have word: another ship of foreigners bound for the Dardanelles has been driven into Besik Bay."
"Bronze Age ships carried no more than 50 rowers. Appearing without warning, a war party from the citadel could overpower them easily. Perhaps their leader took the ships master aside. Favorable winds might not come for some time, the armed prince might have said. You could be our guest for months. Your ship has many rich things on board. Perhaps youd like to give us something. Extortion or dockage fee, the message was clear to the sailors."
"`Troy was known and disliked for this throughout the eastern Mediterranean for centuries ." The Trojans probably levied a fee on wind-bound shipping as early as 3,000 B.C. They operated from a" small, windswept hamlet perched on the headland above the beach at Besik. Eventually the hamlet became too exposed, both to wind and sea raids. But inland, a citadel, perched on a hill to be called Hisarlik, rose against the horizon, and over time grew stronger and richer. Centuries later, the citadel of Late Bronze Age Troy stood there."[John Fleischman, Smithsonian.]
The Trojan horse was probably an engineers device for breaking down the walls. The legends stress that the wall came down when the horse entered the city. This could have been a garbled recollection of a siege machine. They certainly existed in Near Eastern warfare at the time. Powerful wooden horses containing many men to operate the ram which opened up city walls had been developed in Assyria. However, there is no proof that Aegean-area warriors of the 12th century used them.
H. Unlikely that the Greek fleet landed at the mouth of the Scamander River, directly north of Troy, inside the southeast entrance to the Dardanelles in what was a bay with a river delta " the strong, five-knot southward current of Black Sea water funneling through the mouth of the Dardanelles near Troy, and the steady northwest winds averaging nine-and-a-half miles and hour down the straits of the Dardanelles, would have made it very difficult for Mycenaean Greeks to sail into the Dardanelles to the mouth of the Scamander. They did not know how to sail against the wind, and their ships did not have a deep keel. Also, there were, and still are, good water sources southwest near Besik Bay; there are none in what would have been a marshy delta of the Scamander River to the north." [James H. Ottafway;, "New Assault on Troy," Archaeology (September/October, 1991), p. 58.]