Help Received: COL Sheldon-reviewed rough draft of paper
Writing Center-helped with my introduction and thesis
For ancient Greeks, the Trojan War, and the fall of Troy, was a turning point in the early history of The Hellenes. While the Trojan War as described in The Iliad is greatly debated as historically correct, Troy was still a center piece of a kingdom in northwest Anatolia. There is much to be told about Troy, even if the great epics such as The Iliad and Odyssey are incorrect, there is overwhelming evidence that Troy was important in early Greek history and was a center for much trade that spread between the Aegean and Black Seas.
Troy VI, located on the Hisarlick hill, was a mighty walled citadel. Troy was originally discovered by the archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann in 1870. Later archaeological digging by Manfred Korfmann found arrow heads that were dated to the 1200 B.C. and a ditch around a city, suggesting a larger city than originally thought.1 Troy VI is thought to have been destroyed by a fire around 1250 B.C. Also, bronze arrowheads and spear tips have been found in the fortifying walls, suggesting some type of conflict. While these archaeological digs cannot prove that the Trojan war, as described by Homer, actually occurred, there is great evidence that there was a conflict between Troy and the Hittites and Ahhiyawa.2
Troy VI is a turning point in Greek history. Troy VI fell at around 1250 B.C. Similarly, the Dark Ages of Ancient Greece started around 1200 B.C. The besieging of Troy, and the evidence of conflict at the archaeological site of Troy, suggests that Troy was involved in a type of conflict, but not as grand as described in Homer’s epics.3 Why would Troy be besieged then? Times were tough in Ancient Greece. The besieging of Troy, whether by the Hittites or the Ahhiyawa, points to the start of the Dark Ages. Around 1250 B.C. Troy was a “grand city-state,” as described by Homer, with a population of around 10,000 people. If the Dark Ages and the temporary decline of Greek civilization, were to start in about 50 years, times would have been tough. Therefore, competition would have been even more intense.2 As suggested by UNESCO, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organizations, Troy was besieged by the Greeks, leading to Homer’s epic The Illiad. However, the real cause of the Trojan War was not about Helen, but was rather about intense trading rivalries between Troy and the Mycenaean kingdom.3
Figure 1. Map of Troy in relation to important trade routes in Ancient Greece.
As you can see in Figure 1, Troy was in the middle of the Hittite Empire and Ancient Greece. This would’ve opened up numerous trade opportunities for Troy. With the Dark Ages approaching trade opportunities were scarce, with lucrative trade with the people around the Black Sea on the line. The fall of Troy symbolizes the beginning of the Dark Ages in Ancient Greece.
Still today there are arguments over which level of Troy is that of Homer’s great epics. Some scholars believe that Troy VI is being referred to;4 others believe it is Troy VII.5 As Jona Lendering stated, the Homeric Troy is most likely Troy VI. In Hittite sources the great city of Troy is referred to as Wilusa, from which the name Ilion was derived, because the Greeks no longer pronounced W’s. Ilion is another name for Troy mentioned in many texts, including the textbook, as the alternate Greek name for Troy. Also referred to as Truwisa, from Hittite texts meaning Troy, the double name may have referred to the walled citadel of Troy VI and the surrounding city. It is thought that Homer used both names in his epics to allow him more metric freedom.4 Because of these Hittite sources, we now know that Troy VI is in fact the “Homeric” Troy. During the period of Troy VI, around 1700-1200 B.C., Troy was in trade with the Hittites.3
Figure 2. Archeological evidence from digging at Troy VI.
Also, as shown in Figure 2, there is archaeological evidence to suggest that Troy VI is the Troy of Homer’s epics. The bronze arrow heads, spear tips, and sling shots found in the fortification walls of Troy were dated to around 1250 B.C. These dates correspond with Herodotus’ dates of the Trojan War occurring.2 This, without a doubt, proves that Troy VI was indeed the Troy of Homer’s great epics.
If Homer’s epics about Troy are historically incorrect then what is the true story of Troy? One thing that cannot be argued is that Troy was a great trading center. Troy was a very substantial city for its time, around 10,000 inhabitants, with the protective citadel measuring 200 by 300 meters.4With a lower fortified town, the rulers of Troy grew rich from great trade between the Aegean and Black Seas. This led to Korfmann’s idea that there really was a Trojan War, not about the beautiful Helen, but rather it was a fight over these important trade routes that the Achaeans came to seize from the Hellenes6. Also, as described in the book, German and American excavations in the 1990s revealed a walled settlement south of the citadel, suggesting that Troy was the center of a great city, such as that described by Homer, and the capital of a kingdom in northwest Anatolia.3 Finally, archaeological evidence found by Korfmann suggests there was a deep ditch around the city. This ditch would symbolize the defense of a large city. This feeds the idea that Troy was a great trade center in Ancient Greece.
While Homer’s epics may not be historically correct, Troy still had a great story to be told. As the center piece of a great kingdom in northwest Anatolia, Troy was the center for much trade that spread between the Aegean and Black Seas. Furthermore, Troy VI was a great walled citadel, in which it is believed that is being referred to as the “grand city-state” in Homer’s epics. While the Trojan War may not have happened, Troy was still in conflict with other civilizations because of trading rivalries and was in fact the center of a great trading kingdom.
Aegean Civilization, courtesy of akbarn.com/Aegean-civilization
“Archaeological Site of Troy.” – UNESCO World Heritage Center. http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/849
Cartwright, Mark. “Troy.” Ancient History Encyclopedia. http://www.ancient.eu/troy/