Troy (Asia Minor)

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Troy (Asia Minor), also Ilium (ancient Ilion), famous city of Greek legend, on the northwestern corner of Asia Minor, in present-day Turkey. The legendary founder of the city was Ilus, the son of Tros, from whom the name Troy was derived. The son and successor of Ilus was Laomedon, who was slain by the hero Hercules, when Hercules captured the city. During the reign of Laomedon's son Priam occurred the celebrated Trojan War, which resulted in the capture and destruction of the city.

The Troy that appears in the Homeric poems was long regarded as a purely legendary city, but in 1870 the German archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann began excavations that unearthed the actual stone walls and battlements of an ancient city on the mound called Hissarlik ("Place of Fortresses"), about 6.5 km (about 4 mi) from the Aegean Sea and equidistant from the Dardanelles. Schliemann's excavations were continued after his death by his assistant, Wilhelm Dörpfeld, whose work in 1893 and 1894 threw new and important light on Schliemann's discoveries. Between 1932 and 1938 new excavations were carried on at the site by the University of Cincinnati, under the direction of the American archaeologist Carl Blegen. On the mound of Hissarlik, the following successive settlements have been determined: Troy I, an early settlement with a wall built of small stones and clay, its date being perhaps about 3000BC; Troy II, a prehistoric fortress, with strong ramparts, a palace, and houses, dating from the 3rd millennium BC; Troy III, IV, and V, prehistoric villages successively built on the debris of Troy II during the period from 2300 to 2000BC; Troy VI, a fortress, including a larger area than any of the preceding settlements, with huge walls, towers, gates, and houses dating from 1900 to 1300BC or later; Troy VIIA, a reconstruction of Troy VI, built in the later part of this period after the city had been destroyed by an earthquake; Troy VIIB and VIII, Greek villages, of simple stone houses, dating from about 1100BC to the 1st century BC, and Troy IX, the acropolis of the Greco-Roman city of Ilion, or New Ilion, with a temple of Athena, public buildings, and a large theater, and existing from the 1st century BC to about AD500.

Schliemann discovered the first five settlements and identified Troy II with the Homeric Troy. Dörpfeld's discoveries, confirmed by Blegen, proved that the Homeric Troy must be identified with Troy VIIA, which was destroyed by fire about the traditional date of the Trojan War.
Further Reading1

1"Troy (Asia Minor)," Microsoft® Encarta® Encyclopedia 99. © 1993-1998 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

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