Topics: Greco-Roman World - Troy (3000 -100 BC)

Troy (3000 -100 BC)

Troy (Greek: Troia, also Ilion; Latin: Troia, Ilium; Hittite: Wilusa or Truwisa) was a city, both factual and legendary, best known for being the focus 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.

Metrical evidence from the Iliad and the Odyssey seems to show that the name Ilion formerly began with a digamma: this was later proved by the Hittite form Wilusa.

Today it is the name of an archaeological site, the traditional location of Homeric Troy, Turkish Truva, in Hisarlık, Anatolia, close to the seacoast in what is now Çanakkale 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 1865 an English archaeologist, Frank Calvert, excavated trial trenches in a field he had bought from a local farmer at Hisarlık, near Truva and in 1868 a wealthy German businessman, Heinrich Schliemann, after a chance meeting between the two men in Çanakkale town, also began excavating in this area. Later excavations revealed several cities built in succession to each other. One of the earlier cities (Troy VII) is generally 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.

Homeric Troy

Ancient Greek historians placed the Trojan War variously in our 12th, 13th, or 14th century BCE: Eratosthenes to 1184 BCE, Herodotus to 1250 BCE, Duris of Samos to 1334 BCE. Modern archaeologists associate Homeric Troy with archaeological Troy VII.

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 km from the coast today, but the ancient mouths of alleged Scamander, some 3,000 years ago, were about that distance inland, 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 Aeneid. The Greeks and Romans took for a fact the historicity of the Trojan War and 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 tombs there associated with 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 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 Tübingen 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.

Archaeological Troy

The layers of ruins in the citadel at Hisarlik are numbered Troy I – Troy IX, with various subdivisions:

* Troy I 3000–2600 BCE (Western Anatolian EB 1)

* Troy II 2600–2250 BCE (Western Anatolian EB 2)

* Troy III 2250–2100 BCE (Western Anatolian EB 3 [early])

* Troy IV 2100–1950 BCE (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.

Troy I–V

The first city on the site 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. Around 1900 BCE a mass migration was set off by the Hittites to the east. Cities to east of Troy were destroyed and although Troy was not burned, the next period shows a change of culture indicating a new people had taken over Troy.

Troy VI

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 VII

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.

Troy IX

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.

Excavation campaigns

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 Çanakkale, was known to the Turks as Hisarlik.


In 1868 the German self-taught archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann visited Calvert and secured permission to excavate Hisarlık. In the 1870s (in two campaigns, 1871–73 and 1878–9) 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.

Dörpfeld, Blegen

After Schliemann, the site was further excavated under the direction of Wilhelm Dörpfeld (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 Tübingen and the University of Cincinnati under the direction of Professor Manfred Korfmann, with Professor Brian Rose overseeing Post-Bronze Age (Greek, Roman, Byzantine) excavation along the coast of the Aegean Sea at the Bay of Troy. 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. The latter city has been dated by his team to about 1250 BC, and it has been also suggested- based on recent archeologic evidence uncovered by Professor Manfred Krofmann's team- that this was indeed the Homeric city of Troy.


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 Egyptian inscriptions.

An Egyptian inscription at Deir el-Medina records a victory of Ramesses III over Sea Peoples, including some named Tursha. These are probably the same as the earlier Teresh of the Merneptah Stele, commemorating Merneptah’s 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 not provable. 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 the Trojans is unknown, although several Trojan names may be identified as Luwian. The status of the so-called Trojan script is still disputable.

Source: Wikipedia

Troy (3000 -100 BC)
Archeological plan of the Hisarlik citadel