The Ancient City of Troy .

If you've ever read the ancient Greek Classic The Ilium by the poet Homer, you've thrilled to the stories of heroism by the Warriors Hector and Achilles, the lovers Paris and Helen, the vain kings Agammemnon and Prium, and the devious, if effective cunning of Oddyseus who suggested the strategy of abandoning the field and leaving a "gift" of a wooden horse for the Trojans to enjoy. A thousand years after the war, the story had become a legend. By then, most scholars no longer believed that the Trojan Wars had ever happened. But in 1873, the ruins of the lost city were rediscovered in the present day country of Turkey, and with that discover the romantic if tragic myth again moved into history. . The ruins of ancient Troy are to be found 30 km from the Turkish city of Canakkale in the Northwest corner of the nation of Turkey. If you are familiar with Homer’s epic poem, The Iliad, you know that in sight of the city lie the mountain peak of Mount Ida and the twin rivers of Scamander (now known at the Black Menderes) and the Simois. The city seems to have been known by more than one name in old times. In the Illiad, it was referred to as Troia, Ilion or Ilios, which may have been taken from the names of two ancient kings of the area: Tros and Ilos. It is also known that the lands between the Dardanelle, the Sea the Marmara, and Edremit Bay were known during the city’s heyday as Troas or Troad. . Three thousand years ago, the Sea of Marmara came right up to the city, but in the centuries since the legendary city’s heyday, the land between the city and the Sea has been filled in by silt brought down to the sea by the two rivers, and the Sea today lies several miles from the city ruins. Likewise, the ancient ruins were covered by the build up of soil and dust until today, the ruins lie under a hill overlooking the Strait of the Dardanelles. . For two thousand years, the existence of the city was thought to be a myth. Homer’s epic was the only evidence that it ever existed. Then the city was “discovered” by the German businessman, Heinrich Schlieman, who became obsessively convinced that the city really existed and undertook to find it using the information contained in Homer’s epic and recover any “treasure” that might be interred with its bones. After a great deal of scheming and politicking, in 1873 he succeeded in securing permission from the Turkish government to excavate and after a great deal of clumsy excavating, discovered a small treasure of gold and copper items and jewelry which he then smuggled out of the country by diverting his workers. Schleiman made six trips overall to Troy to excavate, finding “treasures” of various times, but nothing as grand as his first discoveries. He died in 1890 and his “smuggled treasures" disappeared. No one today knows where those treasures

went. Other better trained archeologists followed as word of the rediscovery of the city spread however, and detailed plans of the city were made using more exacting methods of evaluating the discoveries. . These investigations discovered that the “city” actually had nine levels. In other words, the evidence was that there had been nine periods or cultures living at this site over the centuries, and the evidence uncovered reveals the profound insecurity and threat of violent death which people of Troy and other city states of the era lived under. . Homer’s Troy was actually Troy VI or VII; there had been five or six cities, or civilizations, on the site before the epic struggle between the Troy of Hector and the Armies of Agamemmon described in Homer’s Illiad. Troy I was built 4500 years ago (3000 – 2500 BC) and was considerably more primitive. Traces of the older levels still can be seen in the old city walls which have been uncovered. This city was destroyed in a great fire. So too was Troy II destroyed by an attack which destroyed the city by fire. The remnants of Troy III, IV and V were largely destroyed by Schieman’s clumsy excavations in search of “treasures,” but it is thought that those cultures were extensions of the previous cultures. It is known however that the Hittites rose to prominence during this time, so the fates of those cities may have suffered as a result of wars with warrior cultures of the region. . Today, only the outer fortifications of Troy VI, which existed during the time between 1700 – 1250 BC) are evident. In the central part of the city, there are virtually no remains because the top of the mound was shaved off during Hellenistic and Roman times in order to open the area around the Temple of Athena, so visitors to the site view mostly the defensive walls which remain from the city. Research suggests that this city was destroyed by a terrible earthquake. The walls of Troy VI however are believed to have been used by the succeeding rebuilt city of Troy VII, and human remains and the prevalence of arrow heads and spear heads at this level suggests that during this era ((1250 – 1000 BC) was the city of Priam which took its population behind the city walls to defend against the attack of the Achaens. After the departure of the Achaens, the city was rebuilt by the survivors, but this stratum was also destroyed by fire (1180 – 1000 BC). . Troy VIII was a city rebuilt and resettled by Greek settlers. It endured from 1000 – 85 BC. This city hosted Xerxes, King of Persia—480 BC, and later, Alexander the Great – 334 BC, as guests. Alexander gifted the city with a new Temple to Athena following his visit. .

Troy IX was built upon this site, and was a Hellenistic and Roman city known as New Ilion. The greater part of this level is still unexcavated, including a Roman Odeon (music theatre), baths, the bouleuterion (council chamber for meetings of city officials), and a theatre. New Ilion was completely destroyed by the Roman Legate Fimbria during the Mithreaditic Wars (85 BC). The city, however, was a favorite of early Roman Emperors, especially Augustus, who rebuilt the city and reconstructed its Temple to Athena. The city continued to be populated until the fourth century AD, gradually falling into disuse. After the designation of Byzantion as capital of the Eastern Roman Empire, Troy began to lose its strategic importance and its attraction as the “Home of Heros.” After Christianity became the official religion of the empire, the city became a bishopric. . Mustafa Askin, Troy (Keskin Color AS: 2006)

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