The Truth Behind Troy
The actual location of Troy and its mere existence have been the subject of intense speculation for thousands of years. But after recent excavations, including some particular discoveries, the truth behind this age-long mystery may finally be revealed!
The Longest Search
Although Troy and the events surrounding it were long considered to be a myth, historians, and archeologists became more and more excited about the prospect of discovering the ancient city. Early explorers believed that the ruins of Alexandria Troas were what was left of it. Then, in the 18th Century, Jean Baptiste LeChevalier claimed the Turkish village of Pinarbas, Ezine, to be its location. After documenting his findings in Voyage de la Troade, this was the most accepted theory for a century, until…
The Hill Of Hisarlik
In 1822, Scottish journalist Charles Maclaren became the first individual to identify the location that Troy is most commonly believed to be located. This was later attested to by Frank Calvert who, in 1866, identified the hill of New Ilium in the exact same location and documented his findings for the archeological world to see. It was situated on a hill called Hisarlik, which can be found close to the city of Çanakkale. But have recent developments finally disproven this longstanding theory?
Stuff Of Legends
One thing is for sure, the search for Troy has always had the potential to create a blur between historical research and the gateways to a mythological story. The most common understanding of Troy comes from Homer’s Iliad. It documents the final stages of the Trojan War, which occurred around the 13th Century BCE. It is written that it was King Agamemnon of Mycenae who formed a Greek coalition and enforced a siege on the city that lasted a decade.
After Calvert’s findings, it was German archeologist Heinrich Schliemann who commissioned the excavation of Hisarlik. In two periods during the late 19th Century, Schliemann discovered many ancient sites that could be dated back to the Bronze Age and even the Roman Ages. After declaring these cites as Troy I and later Troy II, Schliemann coined his findings as Priam’s Treasure. However, even though his findings have been awe-inspiring for many, they haven’t come without their fair share of doubts…
Discovered Or Destroyed?
What made Schleimann’s findings dubious to many was the fact that his predecessor, Calvert, had spent more than 60 years dedicated to the search and his evidence heavily suggested that this was the location that Homeric Troy once stood on. Although these findings were the basis for which Schliemann built his search, he then downplayed the influence that Calvert had on his work. Some archeologists even believe that he may have destroyed the original layers of Troy during his excavation…
After Schliemann’s reputation went downhill, future explorers built on his work. These included Wilhelm Dorpfeld and Carl Blegen. The findings showed that there were at the very least, nine different cities built in this part of the world. What made the finding even more interesting was that each city was built on top of the other, like a cake. At any rate, Blegen believed that each city was connected and most likely, had something to do with the history of Troy.
From The Battlefield?
50 years after Blegen completed his findings, Professor Manfred Korfmann led a team of researchers to perform research at what was believed to be the Bay of Troy. The bronze arrowheads that they discovered, as well as human remains that appeared to have been damaged by fire, were early proof that a battle may have happened in these parts. These findings also dated back to the 12th Century BC. But that wasn’t all that Korfmann discovered that suggested the location’s Bronze Age roots…
Unlocking The Fortress
In 1993, five years after the start of his investigation, Korfmann found a deep ditch that he dated back to the Bronze Age, the period that Homeric Troy was believed to have existed in. Korfmann believed that it may have been the surrounding defenses of Troy and that this structure was in fact, in operation around 1250 BC. Until recently, this has been the most reliable evidence of Troy’s location. But now, recent findings may have changed everything…
Troy Was In England?
Practically all researchers agree that Troy was, in some shape or form, situated in what is now modern-day Turkey. But this doesn’t mean that all scholars have unanimously agreed that Troy was built on Hisarlik. Some claim that it was most likely located elsewhere in the Anatolian region. However, there are small minorities who have also suggested that the city could have been in Herzegovina, Pergamum, and even as far as Scandinavia and the British Isles. One particularly unexpected society has ties to Troy…
Pop Culture Phenomenon
It isn’t just scholars and archeologists who have a had a strong interest in Troy over the years. The ancient city has also been the subject of many pop culture references and has often been reimagined in many art forms. One of the most notable adaptations of the story came in 2004 when Brad Pitt and Eric Bana starred in the action movie Troy. It is loosely based on Homer’s Iliad. However, it was condensed from a decade-long war to one that lasted just a couple of weeks.
Truth Of The Trojan Horse
One of the most iconic images about Troy is undoubtedly the Trojan Horse. According to legend, the large wooden horse was a way to smuggle to the Greeks into the city to win the war. As a result, the horse was the victory trophy. However, researchers have attempted to verify the truth behind it, suggesting that it could have been a battering ram or even a ship. But that’s not the only cultural reference to come from Troy…
Achilles’ Heel Is Real?
Although the event surrounding Achilles’ Heel isn’t actually mentioned in Homer’s Iliad, it was documented in later Greek and Roman works, detailing the later stages of the Trojan War. The story goes that Achilles died after Paris shot an arrow through his heel. Nowadays, the term Achilles’ Heel, alludes to one’s single weakness and is a common expression used when someone who is seemingly great at everything has one outstanding flaw. But did it actually happen?
With over 4,000 years of history, a plethora of cultural references and the center of much speculation, the archeological site of Troy is undeniably important. Located in the province of Canakkale, it was eventually given one of the highest honors. In 1998, the site was added to the UNESCO List of World Heritage Sites for its historical and cultural significance. Just eight years later, Manfred Korfmann’s colleague Ernst Pernicka led a new excavation, which would be the main team working on the site, until…
In 2014, a Turkish company funded an excavation that was ultimately carried out by Canakkale Onsekiz Mart University. The project, led by associate professor Rustem Aslan, was scheduled for 12 months. According to university’s website, “pieces unearthed in Troy will contribute to Çanakkale’s culture and tourism. Maybe it will become one of Turkey’s most important frequented historical places.” But now, the team look like they may have made a series of recent discoveries that have finally made this dream come true.
After three years of hard work, it seems like Aslan and the team have finally made some important breakthroughs. “As we went deep into the lower layers, we found the late-Roman era structures…Hellenistic-era walls and a 3,500-year-old stone road from the Troy-6 and Troy-7 periods,” he said. “We are about to reach new information…which is considered as Homer Troy and associated with the Trojan War. We have obtained some information…[and] have also reached very important architectural findings into the Trojan War.”
The Game Changer
Archeologists have recently found a slab of stone that is believed to be 3,200 years old. It has an inscription on it that tells the tale of a Trojan prince. It documents the rise of Mira, a kingdom that was led by Muksus. The language that the slab was written in, Luwian, can only be understood by about 20 scholars today. A copy of the slab was deciphered by Fred Woudhuizen. But is this inscription actually legitimate in the first place?
The Hittite-Trojan Connection
Many years before Korfmann’s discoveries, it was Swiss researcher Emil Forrer who found some stunning similarities between places found in some Hittite texts and those from Homer’s texts such as Iliad. The Hittite locations of Wilusa and Taruisa were believed to be synonymous with Ilion and Troia. Moreover, he believed that the king of Wilusa, Alaksandu, shared many traits with Homer’s Paris (also known as Alexandros.) This opened many other possibilities linked to other civilizations, including the Egyptians…
There were inscriptions found in the New Kingdom of Egypt that have potential ties to the city of Troy. A nation in the texts referred to as T-R-S were believed to have attacked the Egyptians at one point. Another link can be found between a water tunnel that had been discovered by Korfmann, and one that was mentioned in the Hittite texts. However, there have been many scholars since then who have deemed the theory unreliable.
Real Or Fake?
There are many scholars who are skeptical about the validity of the aforementioned slab, with some ever believing that it could have been forged in recent times. However, Eberhard Zangger, who helped Woudhuizen to publish a copy of the inscription, believes that it would be extremely difficult to create a forgery in this case. Because the original no longer exists, the copy that was kept by archeologist James Melaart was looked upon with cynicism since the day it was discovered.
In recent times, three human skeletons have been unearthed that can be traced back to the late Byzantine era. “The skeletons date back to some time around the 12th century,” Rustem Aslan said. “The examinations on the skeleton showed that this person was young and did not die of natural causes. Its skull and body were damaged and it was buried there.” However, that wasn’t the only thing that Aslan and the crew discovered…
The True Sea People
According to Aslan, his team also discovered a water system that he believes can be dated back to 500 B.C. “We know that Troy has become a sacred place because of Homer’s Trojan War and the stories of heroism,” he said. “We also know that the population increased especially in the Roman era. They carried water from seven-eight kilometers away to meet the need for water here. One of the nearly 1,500-year-old water systems has survived until today without any damage.”
History Repeats Itself
A fascinating insight Aslan has about his discoveries is the number of parallels he sees in Troy. In his opinion, his findings are like an old stanza in a poem that continues to rhyme through the eyes of war. For example, he sees one particular similarity between the Trojan war and one of the most recent wars. “Just like the war in Syria,” he said. He also compared the struggle of Syrian refugees to the refugees of the Trojans.
However, Aslan is sure that there are more questions that need answering. “One of these questions is that the field of the latest Bronze Age cemetery was not found. We know that there are cemeteries from the Hellenistic, Roman and late Byzantine eras,” he said. “But we were not able to find the latest Bronze Age cemetery which is associated with the Trojan War. We have some plans regarding it; we will start working on some spots in the coming years.”
Faith For The Future
Although Aslan knows that a lot more work needs to be done, he firmly believes that his team are going to eventually discover even more. He has had faith since he started his research back in 1988. “Priam, Achilles, Hector: [whether] they lived and died here, we cannot prove that 100%,” he said. “But if you work inside for 30 years, night and day, winter or summer, surrounded by this landscape, you can feel it. You start to believe.”