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The Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites


  Equidistant (about 5 km) from the Aegean and the Dardanelles. A gap of 400 years separates Troy VIIb, the final phase of the Bronze Age citadel, from the beginning of Troy VIII, when the site was reoccupied, apparently by Greek settlers, traditionally described as Aitolian, shortly before 700 B.C. To judge from the archaeological remains, Troy enjoyed a moderately active existence in the 7th and 6th c., and declined into comparative stagnation in the 5th and 4th c. In Hellenistic-Roman times (Troy IX) its fortunes were livelier. The town benefited substantially from the favor of Alexander and Lysimachos, and later from that of Caesar and Augustus, to say nothing of subsequent emperors, but there were also reverses, notably during the Mithridatic war, when Troy was captured and sacked by the Roman legate Fimbria in 85 B.C. Before deciding to locate his new capital on the Bosphoros, Constantine considered Troy as a possible site. The latest known Classical reference to the town is an account of a visit by the emperor Julian in A.D. 355.
  The physical remains of Troy VIII are meager. The buildings of this period which originally occupied the hilltop were largely destroyed in Troy IX when the central part of the hill was leveled to provide a precinct for the cult of Athena Ilias. Though Troy VIII extended beyond the limits of the Bronze Age citadel, its people, for a time at least, relied for defense on the great wall of Troy VI, which they repaired and strengthened at vanous places. In the NE sector a wall was built to enclose a flight of steps that gave access to a well outside. At the SW, again outside the circuit of the VI wall, two sanctuaries of modest size lie adjacent to each other. They were founded in the mid 7th c., and continued into Troy IX.
  Though Troy IX was larger and more prosperous, its remains are scarcely abundant. The plan of the great Sanctuary of Athena, which included a propylon and colonnades, has been determined, occupying an area almost half as large as all of Troy VI. Scattered fragments of a Doric temple have been recovered. The best preserved metope depicts Helios driving his chariot. Though its date is disputed, the temple is probably Early Hellenistic; its construction is ascribed by Strabo (13.1.26) to Lysimachos. Elsewhere about the hill are remains of theaters or theatral buildings, a palaestra, and sections of the extended city wall.
  The bulk of the finds from Troy are housed in the Archaeological Museum in Istanbul.

C. Boulter, ed.
This text is from: The Princeton encyclopedia of classical sites, Princeton University Press 1976. Cited Nov 2002 from Perseus Project URL below, which contains bibliography & interesting hyperlinks.

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Beazley Archive Dictionary

Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities


   The scene of the Iliad is laid before the walls of Ilios or Troy, described by the poet as a populous and warlike city, mistress of the Troad, or northwest promontory of Asia Minor, and ruled by King Priam. In the Greek myths Ilios was founded by Ilus, son of Tros and greatgrandson of Dardanus. In the reign of Laomedon, son of Ilus, the city was fortified with huge walls by Poseidon and Apollo; but as Laomedon refused to pay the price agreed upon for this service, he incurred the hostility of his mighty assistants. Laomedon was succeeded by his son Podarces, or Priam, who became a great monarch, with fifty sons, including Hector and Paris, and twelve daughters. Paris, by the help of Aphrodite, carried off Helen, wife of Menelaus, king of Sparta; and to avenge this insult an army of Achaeans besieged the city for ten years, and finally captured and destroyed it. For a fuller account of the mythical history of Troy, see Dardanus; Ilus; Laomedon; Paris; Trojan War.
    It is impossible to determine how much, if any, of historical truth is contained in these legends, and particularly in the Homeric account of the Trojan War. But recent excavations have done much to show that the siege of Troy was not all a myth. Where the ancient city stood, or where the poet conceived that it stood, has been the subject of endless discussion. A brief history of this controversy will be the best introduction to an account of the present state of the question.
    Long after the assumed date of the fall of Troy, but before the Persian wars, the Greek town of (Novum) Ilium was founded at the low mound of Hissarlik, nearly four miles from the Hellespont at Sigeum and about three miles from the nearest point on the coast. Its inhabitants asserted that the city of Priam had never been completely destroyed and that their own town was the immediate successor of Homeric Ilios. This claim seems to have been generally allowed. Hellanicus expressly approved it, and Herodotus describes, without dissent, the visit of Xerxes to the spot, to which he was drawn by its legendary fame. The Spartan admiral Mindarus, during the Peloponnesian War, and Alexander the Great, almost a century later, each offered sacrifice to the Ilian Athene, in recognition of the ancient glory of the town. But in the second century B.C. Demetrius of Scepsis advanced the theory that Homeric Troy could not have stood on the site of (Novum) Ilium. His chief reasons were: (1) that the plain between Ilium and the sea was an alluvial deposit, and must have been far too small, in the days of Homer, for the mighty combats described in the Iliad;
    (2) the flight of Hector from Achilles three times around the walls of the city could not have taken place at the site of Ilium, for the mound on which the latter stands (the modern Hissarlik) was not an isolated hill, but a spur from Mount Ida, so that at one point the runners would have had to ascend a considerable incline. Demetrius would look for ancient Ilios apparently at a site now called Hanai-tepeh, opposite Bunarbashi. In these opinions he was followed by Strabo, our chief authority for the geography of the Troad; and most modern scholars, until recent years, including such men as Welcker, Kiepert, Von Moltke, E. Curtius, and Jebb, have agreed with them. It has been the accepted belief that it was impossible to separate truth from fiction in the Iliad, and that we must not therefore hope to find anywhere a site exactly corresponding to the poet's description. According to this modern view, the ancient capital of the Troad was situated on a high hill called Bali Dagh, much farther inland than Hissarlik, and this mountain fortress was transformed, by the poet's imaginaton, into a great city--the capital of a mighty empire. George Grote almost alone, with his usual perspicacity, maintained that there was "every reason for presuming that the Ilium visited by Xerxes and Alexander was the holy Ilium present to the mind of Homer;" and the excavations of the last two decades have rendered it quite certain that he was right in his adherence to the general opinion of antiquity.
    But before giving an account of these excavations, it may be well to glance at some of the circumstances which seem to favor the Hissarlik site. Its distance from the coast is such as to agree with the Homeric conception of the rapid ebb and flow of the tide of battle between the ships and the city walls, and the frequent and speedy journeys of messengers, and king Priam himself. The situation on the level plain, but with the low mound of from fifty to sixty-five feet in height for the citadel, is more favourable for a great and wealthy city than the almost inaccessible steep of Bali Dagh; while the latter is too far from the coast (over ten miles) to meet the conditions mentioned above. Professor Virchow has shown that the river Scamander (Mendere), which now discharges near Cape Sigeum, must formerly have followed the course of the present KalifatliAsmak, farther north, thus bringing it between the city and the ships, and providing for its union with the Simois (Dumbrek-su); and so removing all objection to the Hissarlik site on this score. The view of Demetrius, that the plain is an alluvial deposit, is clearly founded on Herodotus ii. 11, where it is stated that the plain was originally a bay. But Herodotus manifestly did not think that the plain lay under water in the Trojan period, for he could not, in that case, have believed in the identity of Troy and Ilium, as his recital of the visit of Xerxes would seem to indicate that he did. The statement, if true, must refer to some remote period of antiquity, for Scylax makes the distance of Ilium from the sea almost precisely the same as the distance from Hissarlik to-day, showing that the alluvial deposit has not materially extended the plain in the last 2000 years, at least. The objection to the Hissarlik site, based upon the flight of Hector around the walls, amounts to nothing, since this whole story is manifestly a poetic exaggeration, like the battle of Achilles with the Scamander; and we need not expect to find the exact spot where such fictitious and impossible occurrences took place. But if importance is attached to this point, it may be added that recent excavations prove that this ridge was originally about forty feet lower than at present, as it was gradually raised by the clearing away of debris from the citadel mound. At its former insignificant height it might easily have been surmounted by the two stout warriors. It may be added that the ruins on the Bali Dagh consist of nothing more than the remains of a small circuit wall, indicating that we have to do with an unimportant mountain fortress, which may have commanded the Scamander gorge--a fortress which could never have been described as a great and populous city "on the plain".
    It would thus appear that on topographical grounds alone the question, though a difficult one, might fairly be decided in favour of the Hissarlik site. It remains to show how recent discoveries have converted this probability into a practical certainty. In 1870 Dr. Heinrich Schliemann, a retired German merchant and enthusiastic archaeologist, began his excavations at Hissarlik. These excavations were continued, with various interruptions, until his death in 1890. During their progress, the scholarly world, incredulous at first, gradually came more and more to the belief that the Homeric Ilios had actually been found. After 1882 Schliemann had the cooperation of Dr. W. Dorpfeld, afterwards secretary of the German Archaeological Institute at Athens, whose adhesion added much to the weight of authority in favour of Schliemann's views. The remains which have been unearthed were found in no less than seven different layers, of which the uppermost contained what could be positively identified as ruins of the Hellenistic and Roman city of Ilium. The four layers below this contained nothing but traces of small and mean buildings of a village character. It was in the two lowest layers that the most interesting discoveries were made. The lowest settlement of all was built upon the solid rock, and the remains consisted of fortification walls eight feet thick, built of rough limestone, with house walls, two to three feet in thickness, of small stones cemented with clay. Utensils were found, very rarely of metal, but usually of stone, with vases of black baked clay. The potter's wheel was apparently known to the inhabitants of this settlement, but was not so often employed as later. The debris of this first city, which Schliemann decided to be pre-Homeric, is about eight feet in depth. Above this was a layer of earth nearly two feet in thickness, showing a long period of desertion, and over this the great layer of debris, in which were found the remains of the second city, now generally believed to be Homeric Ilios.
    Here the great citadel walls were discovered. These consisted of a stone substructure 13 feet wide at the top, which is level, the depth varying according to the irregularities of the surface below. On this was built a wall of brick, from 11 to 13 feet in thickness, and rising originally, as well as can be estimated, to a height of 13 feet. These bricks are sundried, and measure 18X9X3 1/2 inches. In the walls were found long, hollow channels, one foot square, which Dr. Dorpfeld first considered to have been made for the purpose of conducting heat to bake the bricks after the wall had been built. But this theory has now been abandoned, and it is generally believed that the marks of heat about these channels were caused, at the time of the destruction of the city, by the burning of beams which had been imbedded in the walls to give them stronger cohesion. These circuit walls seem to have formed an equilateral of about 165 feet on each side, with projecting bastions at the corners. The walls are pierced by several gates, of which the central one on the south side is the oldest. This consists of a tower 130 feet long by 59 feet broad, and projecting 59 feet beyond the wall. Through this tower the road to the citadel passed, and by means of the projecting wing was protected all the way from the foot of the acropolis hill. The side walls of this passage were buttressed with thick wooden braces, which were probably connected at the top, thus forming a continuous flat roof over the whole gateway. Such a roofed gate we may suppose the poet to have had in mind in Iliad, iii. 145, when he describes the elders as sitting "on the Scaean gates." The other two gates cannot be described for lack of space.
    In the centre of the citadel lies the building, which is generally considered to be the palace. The ruins consist of a gateway , opening upon the courtyard, beyond which stand the chief apartments of the palace, the megaron or men's apartment on the left and the women's apartments on the right. The megaron is 66 feet in depth, with an entrance hall 37 feet square in front of it, and in its centre are slight remains of a large round hearth, which thus occupied the central point of the whole palace, as described in the Iliad and Odyssey.
    The women's apartment is considerably smaller, consisting of a series of three rooms 15 feet wide and 20, 24, and 29 feet long respectively. But besides these remains of walls and buildings, numerous articles of gold and silver were found by Dr. Schliemann, showing conclusively that the ruins were those of a prosperous and wealthy city. In May, 1873, the so-called "great treasure" was found buried within the fortification wall, near the southwestern gate. This consisted of a great variety of articles, packed into one another in the form of a rectangular mass, apparently placed originally in a wooden chest, and stored for safe keeping in a hollow in the wall.
    The most valuable were two large diadems of gold, formed of a number of small pendant chains of beautiful workmanship. Gold earrings were found in large numbers, as well as cups, vases, bracelets, and other ornaments of gold or silver, with spear-heads, battle-axes, and knife blades, and numerous other articles of various kinds.
    Space will not allow a description of the remains found in the five upper layers, which are not materially different from those of the same period elsewhere. But in general it may be said that these excavations show that the hill of Hissarlik was inhabited, without serious interruption, from the late Graeco-Roman period back to a time before the dawn of history. At a date so early that we cannot estimate it even approximately the hill was covered with fortifications and palaces. Captain E. Botticher, to be sure, has attempted to prove that the so-called citadel is nothing but a huge fire-necropolis, and even went so far as to accuse Schliemann of ill faith in describing what he found. But a conference of scholars, which met at Hissarlik in March, 1890, at Schliemann's invitation, decided: (1) that the site was well suited for a fortress;
    (2) that traces of fortifications of different epochs can be seen there;
    (3) that the "corridors" of Botticher did not exist;
    (4) that the hill did not consist of a series of artificial terraces, each smaller than the one below. On the contrary each layer occupies more space than the one below it (showing the gradual extension by the accumulation of debris);
    (5) that the ruins in the second layer resemble those at Tiryns and Mycenae;
    (6) that the numerous upright jars which were found contained grain and not human bones;
    (7) that no traces were found of the burning of corpses. This decision overthrew the theory of Botticher (who was indeed compelled to withdraw his accusation of bad faith), and went far to satisfy scholars that Schliemann's discoveries have actually revealed the site of Homeric Ilios.

This text is cited Oct 2002 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks


   The name of the city of Troy or Ilium; also applied to the country. The mythical account of the kingdom of Troy is briefly as follows. Teucer, the first king, had a daughter who married Dardanus, the chieftain of the country northeast of the Troad (Dardania). Dardanus had two sons, Ilus and Ericthonius, and the latter was the father of Tros, from whom the country and people derived the names of Troas and Troes. Tros was the father of Ilus, who founded the city, which was called after him Ilium, and also, after his father, Troia. The next king was Laomedon, and after him Priam. In his reign the city was taken and destroyed by the confederated Greeks, after a ten years' siege. As to the historical facts which may be regarded as established, there is evidence of a considerable city having been sacked and burned at a period which archaeologists put not later than the twelfth century B.C. That this invasion may have been an enterprise of the Achaeans at that time is neither impossible nor unlikely. If the interpretation of recent Egyptian discoveries is right which makes Achaeans appear as assailants of Egypt in the reign of Rameses III., it would follow that the Achaeans of the twelfth or thirteenth century had power and spirit enough for such an enterprise; but in any case the history of Tiryns and Mycenae, as attested by their ruins, is evidence to the existence of their power at that time. There is therefore no reason why the traditions upon which the Iliad is based should not be regarded as true in their main outlines. It is probable enough that to avenge an act of piracy (which is a common and simple explanation of the rape of Helen) the Greeks of the "Achaean" period besieged and sacked Troy and thence returned to hold their own possessions undisturbed until the Dorian invasion. That there was no Greek settlement upon the site of Troy until a much later period is deduced from the remains of towns of a low state of civilization and of small importance which have been discovered above the ruins of the second city.

This text is cited Oct 2002 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks

Greek & Roman Geography (ed. William Smith)


  Ilium, Ilios (Ilion, he Ilios: Eth. Ilieus, f. Ilias), sometimes also called Troja (Troia), whence the inhabitants are commonly called Troes, and in the Latin writers Trojani. The existence of this city, to which we commonly give the name of Troy, cannot be doubted any more than the simple fact of the Trojan War, which was believed to have ended with the capture and destruction of the city, after a war of ten years, B.C. 184. Troy was the principal city of the country called Troas. As the city has been the subject of curious inquiry, both in ancient and modern times, it will be necessary, in the first instance, to collect and analyse the statements of the ancient Writers; and to follow up this discussion by an account of the investigations of modern travellers and scholars to identify the site of the famous city. Our most ancient authority are the Homeric poems; but we must at the very outset remark, that we cannot look upon the poet in every respect as a careful and accurate topographer; but that, admitting his general accuracy, there may yet be points on which he cannot be taken to account as if it had been his professed object to communicate information on the topography of Troy.
  The city of Ilium was situated on a rising ground, somewhat above the plain between the rivers Seamander and Simois, at a distance, as Strabo asserts, of 42 stadia from the coast of the Hellespont. (Hom. Il. xx. 216, fol.; Strab. xiii. p. 596.) That it was not quite in the plain is clear from the epithets enemoessa, aipeine, and ophruoessa. Behind it, on the south-east, there rose a hill, forming a branch of Mount Ida, surmounted by the acropolis, called Pergamum (to Pergamon, Hom. Il. iv. 508, vi. 512; also ta Pergama, Soph. Phil. 347, 353, 611; or, he Pergamos, Hom. Il. v. 446, 460.) This fortified acropolis contained not only all the temples of the gods (Il. iv. 508, v. 447,512, vi. 88, 257, xxii. 172, &c.), but also the palaces of Priam and his sons, Hector and Paris (Il. vi. 317, 370, 512, vii. 345). The city must have had many gates, as may be inferred from the expression pasai pulai (Il. ii. 809, and elsewhere), but only one is mentioned by name, viz., the Skaiai pulai, which led to the camp of the Greeks, and must accordingly have been on the northwest part of the city, that is, the part just opposite the acropolis (Il. iii. 145, 149, 263, vi. 306, 392, xvi. 712, &c.). The origin of this name of the left gate is unknown, though it may possibly have reference to the manner in which the signs in the heavens were observed; for, during this process, the priest turned his face to the north, so that the north-west would be on his left hand. Certain minor objects alluded to in the Iliad, such as the tombs of Ilus, Aesyetes, and Myrine, the Scopie and Erineus, or the wild fig-tree, we ought probably not attempt to urge very strongly: we are, in fact, prevented from attributing much weight to them by the circumstance that the inhabitants of New Ilium, who believed that their town stood on the site of the ancient city, boasted that they could show close to their walls these doubtful vestiges of antiquity. (Strab. xiii. p. 599.) The walls of Ilium are described as lofty and strong, and as flanked with towers; they were fabled to have been built by Apollo and Poseidon (Il. i. 129, ii. 113, 288, iii. 153, 384, 386, vii. 452, viii. 519). These are the only points of the topography of Ilium derivable from the Homeric poems. The city was destroyed, according to the common tradition, as already remarked, about B.C. 1184; but afterwards we hear of a new Ilium, though we are not informed when and on what site it was built. Herodotus (vii. 42) relates that Xerxes, before invading Greece, offered sacrifices to Athena at Pergamum, the ancient acropolis of Priam; but this does not quite justify the inference that the new town of Ilium was then already in existence, and all that we can conclude from this passage is that the people at that time entertained no doubt as to the sites of the ancient city and its acropolis. Strabo (xiii. p. 601) states that Ilium was restored during the last dynasty of the Lydian kings; that is, before the subjugation of Western Asia by the Persians: and both Xenophon (Hellen. i. 1. § 4) and Scylax (p. 35) seem to speak of Ilium as a town actually existing in their days. It is also certain that in the time of Alexander New Ilium did exist, and was inhabited by Aeolians. (Demosth. c. Aristocr. p. 671; Arrian, Anab. i. 11. § 7; Strab. xiii. p. 593, foll.) This new town, which is distinguished by Strabo from the famous ancient city, was not more than 12 stadia, or less than two English miles, distant from the sea, and was built upon the spur of a projecting edge of Ida, separating the basins of the Scamander and Simois. It was at first a place of not much importance (Strab. xiii. pp. 593, 601), but increased in the course of time, and was successively extended and embellished by Alexander, Lysimachus, and Julius Caesar. During the Mith<*>idatic War New Ilium was taken by Fimbria, in B.C. 85, on which occasion it suffered greatly. (Strab. xiii. p. 594; Appian, Mithrid. 53; Liv. Epit. lxxxiii.) It is said to have been once destroyed before that time, by one Charidemus (Plut. Sertor. 1.; Polyaen. iii. 14); but we neither know when this happened, nor who this Charidemus was. Sulla, however, favoured the town extremely, in consequence of which it rose, under the Roman dominion, to considerable prosperity, and enjoyed exemption from all taxes. (Plin. v. 33.) These were the advantages which the place owed to the tradition that it occupied the identical site of the ancient and holy city of Troy: for, it may here be observed, that no ancient author of Greece or Rome ever doubted the identity of the site of Old and New Ilium until the time of Demetrius of Scepsis, and Strabo, who adopted his views; and that, even afterwards, the popular belief among the people of Ilium itself, as well as throughout the world generally, remained as firmly established as if the criticism of Demetrius and Strabo had never been heard of. These critics were led to look for Old Ilium farther inland, because they considered the space between New Ilium and the coast far too small to have been the scene of all the great exploits described in the Iliad; and, although they are obliged to own that not a vestige of Old Ilium was to be seen anywhere, yet they assumed that it must have been situated about 42 stadia from the sea-coast. They accordingly fixed upon a spot which at the time bore the name of Ilieon kome. This view, with its assumption of Old and New Ilium as two distinct places, does not in any way remove the difficulties which it is intended to remove; for the spaee will still be found far too narrow, not to mention that it demands of the poet what can be demanded only of a geographer or an historian. On these grounds we, in common with the general belief of all antiquity, which has also found able advocates among modern critics, assume that Old and New Ilium occupied the same site. The statements in the Iliad which appear irreconcilable with this view will disappear if we bear in mind that we have to do with an entirely legendary story, which is little concerned about geographical accuracy.
  The site of New Ilium (according to our view, identical with that of Old Ilium) is acknowledged by all modern inquirers and travellers to be the spot covered with ruins now called Kissarlik, between the villages of Kum-kioi, Kalli-fatli, and Tchiblak, a little to the west of the last-mentioned place, and not far from the point where the Simois once joined the Scamander. Those who maintain that Old Ilium was situated in a different locality cannot, of course, be expected to agree in their opinions as to its actual site, it being impossible to fix upon any one spot agreeing in every particular with the poet' s description. Respecting the nationality of the inhabitants of Ilium, we shall have to speak in the article Troas (Comp. Spohn, de Agro Trojano, Lipsiae, 1814, 8vo.; Rennell, Observations on the Topography of the Plain of Troy, London, 1814,4to.; Choiseul-Gouffier, Voyage Pittoresque de la Grece, Paris, 1820, vol. ii. p. 177, fell.; Leake, Asia Minor, p. 275, foll.; Grote Hist. of Greece, vol. i. p. 436, foll.; Eckenbrecher, uber die Lage des Homerischen Ilion, Rhein. Mus. Neue Folge, vol. ii. pp. 1-49, where a very good plan of the district of Ilion is given. See also, Welcker, Kleine Schriften, vol. ii. p. 1, foil.; C. Maclaren, Dissertation on the Topography of the Trojan War, Edinburgh, 1822; Mauduit, Decouvertes dans la Troiade, &c., Paris & Londres, 1840.)

This text is from: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) (ed. William Smith, LLD). Cited September 2004 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks

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