Troy is a city which existed over 4.000 years and known as the center of ancient civilizations. For several years people thought that it was the city mentioned only in the tales and never existed until it was initially based in the 19th century.
Troy (Truva in Turkish) is located in Hisarlik near Canakkale province where the remains of this once-great city can be visited.What was left are the remains of the destruction of Schliemann, the famous German archaeologist or a treasure hunter as some people call him.
Today, an foreign team of German and American archaeologists bring the Troy of the Bronze Age back to life under a sponsored project by Daimler – Benz, and another Turkish team is at law wars with Russia and Germany to get back the stolen Trojan treasures.
Troy appeared in Greek and Latin literature. Homer first mentioned story of Troy in Iliad and Odyssey. Later, it became the most popular subject in Greek drama. The book of Virgil’s Aeneid contains the best known account of the sack of Troy. In addition, there are untrue stories under the names of Dictys Cretensis and Dares Phrygius.
In the Bronze age, Troy had a great power because of its strategic location between Europe and Asia. In the 3rd and 2nd millennia BC Troy was a cultural center. After the Trojan War, the city was abandoned from 1100 to 700 BC. About 700 BC Greek settlers began to occupy the Troas region, Troy was resettled and named as Ilion. Alexander the Great ruled the area around the 4th century BC.
After Romans captured Troy in 85 BC, it was restored partially by Roman general Sulla and named as New Ilium. Through the Byzantine rule, Troy lost its importance.
The ruins of Troy were first found by Charles McLaren in 1822. The German archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann excavated Troy from 1870 to 1890. His theft of treasure from Troy and his damage to the site will be always remembered in Turkish archaeological history. Wilhelm Dorpfeld followed to excavate Troy after Schliemann. Today, a new German team ‘s still working to rebuild Troy ruins by using new advanced technologies since 1988.
There are nine levels at Troy; Troy I to V relates roughly with early Bronze Age (3000 to 1900 BC). Its inhabitants were known as Trojans in this period. Troy VI and VII were built in the Middle and Late Bronze Age. Troy VIII to IX belongs to Hellenistic and Roman Ilion (Latin Ilium). Troy was destroyed many times and rebuilt each time.
Troy is one of the most famous cities in the history, remembering us Hector, Achilles and Achaean Greeks, the sake of Helen, Paris, Agamemnon and Priam. Its story is written in every language, Trojan heroes, Achilles’ heel and Odyssey became figures in poems. From Alexander the Great to Lord Byron, many important figures of the history stood on the site of the great heroes. However, people always wondered whether the Trojan War happened or not, or if there was really a wooden horse or not.
The tale of Troy is told by Homer with the Iliad and the Odyssey. Homer was drawing on a vast cycle of stories about Trojan War. The Iliad features a few weeks in the tenth year of the war.
Reported by Greek sources, Troy stood near the Dardanelles. There was clearly no dispute about its location in the story that we are all familiar: the Dardanelles, the islands of Imbros, Samothrace and little Tenedos, Mount Ida to the south east, the plain and the river Scamander.
It was an ancient city an its inhabitants were known as Teucrians or Dardanians but also as Trojans or Ilians which got this name from eponymous heroes, Tros and his uncle Ilus. In other source mentioned that Troy and Ilius were two separate places but Homer insists on using these two names for Troy.
On the mainland of Greece at that time, the most powerful king was Agamemnon. His residence was at Mycenae. At that time, the inhabitants of Greece called themselves as Arhaians, Danaans, or Argiues not Greeks or Hellenes. Agamemnon married Clytemnestra, daughter of Tyndareus of Sparta and sister to Helen. Helen was the most beautiful woman in the world, she had married with Agamemnon’s brother Menelaos who became king in Lakonia. Two brothers had a great power in southern Greece.
On the other hand, in Troy Laemedon was the king of Ilios, the son of Ilus who had given his name to Troy. Laemedon tried to cheat the gods of their rewards. He would not give up the immortal snow – white horses sent by Herakles (Hercules). But Herakles sailed to the Troad (Troy), attacked, and captured the city.
Laemedon and his sons were killed except the youngest, Podarces, who was released and took a new name, Priam, as a young king of Troy and the city was restored again.
Priam ruled over Troy successfully for three generations. He had fifty sons and twelve daughters. His eldest son was the great warrior Hector. And one of his sons, Paris, was the important figure in Troy’s History.
The famous myth tells; Eris -strife- had thrown down a golden apple ‘for the fairest’ at the wedding of Peleus and Thetis, and Zeus couldn’t decide between his wife Hera, Athena (goddess of wisdom), and Aphrodite (goddess of love). The goddesses were led to the Trojan Mount Ida where Priam’s most handsome son Paris lived. Hera offered him the lordship of all Asia; Athena the victory in war and wisdom beyond any other man; Aphrodite the most beautiful woman in the world. As usual, men being men, stories being stories, Paris gave the apple to Helen.
Paris went to Sparta to give the apple to Helen. Menelaus, husband of Helen, arranged a feast for him. When Menelaus left there to visit the king of Knossos, Helen and Paris ran away and sailed to Troy. But there is some contradiction in this part, some source says that Paris carried of Helen by force and plundered elsewhere in the Aegean sea before time for Troy.
When Menelaus heard how it happened, he begged his brother Agamemnon to take revenge. The king sent envoys to Troy to demand Helen’s restitution but envoys came back with empty hands. Then Menelaus gathered an army. In the story, great heroes were Achilles, Odysseus (Ulysses) and Ajax. At Aulis, the army seers read the signs that Troy would fall in the tenth year of the war.
Then Menelaus army sailed to Asia Minor and attacked Teuthrania in Mysia opposite of Lesbos, but they had mistaken depending on Trojan territory and the army were beaten at the mouth of the Caicus river and driven back to their ship by Telephus, king of Mysia and ally of Troy.
The Greeks assembled again at Aulis but they were wind bound and unable to sail. Wings, hunger, evil harborage, crazing men, routing ships and cables stopped the Greek army, because Agamemnon had offended Artemis and his most beautiful daughter had to be sacrificed to change the fortune.
After the sacrification of Iphigenia, the army reached first Lesbos, then Tenedos which is an island visible from Troy. The islands were plundered. At the end, Greek army was at the bay of Troy. The Trojans also had allies from several places in Asia Minor and Thrace. The war took 10 years. In the tenth year of the war, the Greeks stopped raiding Asia Minor and attacked Troy. In a part of Homer’s Iliad, Hector falls in a single combat with Achilles, the best Greek warrior, because he killed Patroclus, Achilles’ best friend. The fight ended with the death of Hector.
Achilles sacrificed twelve noble Trojan captives over Hector’s funeral. After the death of Trojan ally Memnon in a battle at the Scaeon gate, Paris hit Achilles in his heel (the famous ‘Achilles heel’ comes from here), the only place where Achilles was vulnerable. And the greatest of all Greek heroes was burned and his ashes buried on a hill overlooking the Hellespont. Ajax committed suicide with the silver sword which had been given to him by Hector as a mark of respect. Somehow Priam’s son Paris was killed by Philoktetes, but the Trojans still refused to give Helen up.
The Greeks had a plan; they built a wooden horse in order to get access to the city. Well armed men, among them Odysseus of Ithaca and Menelaus, were hidden in it. The horse was left as a thank to Athena and the Greeks burned their camps and sailed as if they had given up.
Trojans found the horse and pulled the horse into the city. At midnight, Greek soldiers jumped down from horse and opened the gates by killing the guards. The Greeks entered into the city and killed all Trojans. After the Greek massacre, none of the males were left alive in the city. Neoptolemus killed old Priam on the threshold of his royal house. The male children of Trojan heroes were slaughtered, Hectors little boy was thrown from the walls. Menelaus decided to kill Helen but in front of her beauty he gave up. After plundering and burning the city, the Greeks left Troy.
But this victory brought only more suffering to the Greeks. They were split up by storms and lost their way to return. Agamemnon, the king of Greeks was killed by his wife. Philoktetos was expelled from Thessaly by rebels.