Troy- Ancient City or Ancient Myth?

By: The Scribe on Friday, February 4, 2011

Many people have heard of the Trojan War or, at the very least, the Trojan horse. But the war and the horse are both myths and there are many people who think that the city was a myth as well. While there may have been no Helen, no jealous Greek gods or goddesses and no large wheeled wooden equine, the fact is that the city itself was very real indeed.

A depiction of the Trojan Horse being wheeled inside the cityHistorians certainly thought that the city was a myth. After all, there were no ruins, no digs that had unearthed proof of the city’s existence. Homer’s Troy seemed like nothing more than the fictional setting for a tale of betrayal, revenge and godly intervention. It seemed doomed to exist only in books and, later, in movies and television shows.

One archaeologist found what he thought may have been the site of this ancient city. In 1865, Frank Calvert purchased a field near Hisarlik in Turkey. The area was located near Mount Ida in an area southeast of the Dardanelles. Calvert began to excavate the area using a series of trenches. He was later joined by a German archaeologist by the name of Heinrich Schliemann. Their digging and excavation revealed not one city, but several which had been built in succession.

A total of nine different cities ranging from the third millennium BCE up until the first century BCE were discovered on the same site. The last city to have been built on the site was actually not called Troy. Instead the city, which was built during the time of the Emperor Augustus was named Ilium. It actually remained in existence until Constantinople was established and it began to decline during the Byzantine era.

The city began as a mercantile city. It was able to dominate trade in the area since it controlled access to the Dardanelles, a narrow strait that was once known as Hellespont. It connected the Aegean Sea and the Sea of Marmara. Many ships travelled through this strait and so being able to control access to the area meant that Troy was very powerful indeed.

One incarnation of the city was destroyed by an earthquake around 1300BCE. When the area occupied by this city (named Troy VI) was excavated, only one artifact (an arrowhead) was unearthed and there were no bodies discovered. Another incarnation of the city actually was destroyed by war. It was dated to the mid to late 13th century BCE. Sections of Troy's legendary walls

Even as late as the founding of Ilium the city was known as an important trade city. This city was not destroyed. Instead, it declined gradually as Constantinople became established as the Roman Empire’s eastern capital. Ruins can still be viewed today although this area is not considered to be the Troy of Homeric legend.

Individuals who are interested in viewing the ancient and fabled ruins are able to do so by travelling to Truva, a Turkish city located near the Troia archaeological site. In 1998, the Troia site became a UNESCO World Heritage site.


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