Troy (Greek: Τροία, Troia, also Ἴλιον, Ilion; Latin: Trōia, Īlium,; Hittite: Wilusa or Truwisa) is a legendary city and center of the Trojan War, as described in the Epic Cycle, and especially in the Iliad, one of the two epic poems attributed to Homer. Trojan refers to the inhabitants and culture of Troy.
Today it is the name of an archaeological site, the traditional location of Homeric Troy, Turkish Truva, in Hisarlık in Anatolia, close to the seacoast in what is now Çanakkale province in northwest Turkey, southwest of the Dardanelles under Mount Ida.
In the 1870s a wealthy German business man Heinrich Schliemann excavated the area. Later excavations revealed several cities built in succession to each other. One of the earlier cities (Troy VII) is often identified with Homeric Troy. While such an identity is disputed, the site has been successfully identified with the city called Wilusa in Hittite texts; Ilion (which goes back to earlier Wilion with a digamma) is thought to be the Greek rendition of that name.
The archaeological site of Troy was added to the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1998.
According to Greek mythology Troy was an ancient city in the Troad region of Anatolia. It is presented anachronistically in legend as if it were part of the Greek culture of city-states. Since the entire state comprised more than the city of Troy itself, anyone from its jurisdiction, which was mainly the Troad, might be termed "Trojan" in ancient literature. An alternative classical Greek and Latin term was "Teucrians", a name taken from an ethnicity of the south Troad. Troy was known for its riches gained from port trade with east and west, fancy clothes, iron production, and massive defensive walls. The major language spoken there and the derivative cultures remain uncertain. Legend for the most part ignores language and makes the presumption that Trojans were fluent in Greek.
The Trojan royal kinship, in Greek eyes, traced its descent from the Pleiad Electra and Zeus, the parents of Dardanus. According to Greek myths, Dardanus was originally from Arcadia but according to Roman myths, he was originally from Italy, having crossed over to Asia Minor from the island of Samothrace, where he met King Teucer. Teucer was himself also a coloniser from Attica, and treated Dardanus with respect. Eventually Dardanus married Teucer's daughters, and founded Dardania (later ruled by Aeneas). Upon Dardanus' death, the Kingdom was passed to his grandson Tros, who called the people Trojans and the land Troad, after himself. Ilus, son of Tros, founded the city of Ilium (Troy) that he called after himself. Zeus gave Ilus the Palladium. Poseidon and Apollo built the walls and fortifications around Troy for Laomedon, son of Ilus the younger. When Laomedon refused to pay, Poseidon flooded the land and demanded the sacrifice of Hesione to a sea monster. Pestilence came and the sea monster snatched away the people of the plain.
In Sardis a self-identified Heracleid dynasty ruled for 505 years until the time of Candaules. The dynasty's founding myth legitimizes their rule by asserting that one generation before the Trojan War, Heracles captured Troy and killed Laomedon and his sons, except for young Priam. Priam later became king. During his reign, the Mycenaean Greeks invaded and captured Troy in the Trojan War (traditionally dated to 1193–1183 BCE, most recently dated to 1188 BCE). The Ionians, Cimmerians, Phrygians, Milesians of Sinope and Lydians moved into Asia Minor. The Persians invaded in 546 BCE.
Several far-flung tribes claimed descent from the Trojans: the Paeonians, the Elymi of Egesta, and the west Libyan Maxyes. The Trojan ships transformed into naiads, who rejoiced to see the wreckage of Odysseus' ship.
Some famous Trojans are: Dardanus (founder of Troy), Laomedon, Ganymede, Priam and his children (including Paris, Hector, Cassandra and Troilus), Tithonus, Corythus, Aeneas and Brutus. Kapys, Boukolion and Aisakos were Trojan princes who had naiad wives. Some of the Trojan allies were the Lycians, the Ethiopians led by Memnon, and the Amazons, led by their Queen Hippolyta. The Aisepid nymphs were the naiads of the Trojan River Aisepos. Pegsis was the naiad of the River Granicus near Troy. "Helen of Troy" was born not in Troy, but in Sparta, of which she was queen until she eloped with Paris to Troy.
Mount Ida in Asia Minor is where Ganymede was abducted by Zeus, where Anchises was seduced by Aphrodite, where Aphrodite gave birth to Aeneas, where Paris lived as a shepherd, where the nymphs lived, where the "Judgement of Paris" took place, where the Greek gods watched the Trojan War, where Hera distracted Zeus with her seductions long enough to permit the Achaeans, aided by Poseidon, to hold the Trojans off their ships, and where Aeneas and his followers rested and waited until the Greeks set out for Greece. Buthrotos (or Buthrotum) was a city in Epirus where Helenus, the Trojan seer, built a replica of Troy. Aeneas landed there and Helenus foretold his future.
In the Iliad, the Achaeans set up their camp near the mouth of the river Scamander (presumably modern Karamenderes), where they had beached their ships. The city of Troy itself stood on a hill, across the plain of Scamander, where the battles of the Trojan War took place. The site of the ancient city is some 5 kilometers from the coast today, but the ancient mouths of alleged Scamander, some 3,000 years ago, were about that distance inland, pouring into a large bay which formed a natural harbour, but has since been filled with alluvial material. Recent geological findings have permitted the reconstruction of how the original Trojan coastline would have looked, and the results largely confirm the accuracy of the Homeric geography of Troy.
Besides the Iliad, there are references to Troy in the other major work attributed to Homer, the Odyssey, as well as in other ancient Greek literature. The Homeric legend of Troy was elaborated by the Roman poet Virgil in his work the Aeneid. The Greeks and Romans took for a fact the historicity of the Trojan War, and in the identity of Homeric Troy with the site in Anatolia. Alexander the Great, for example, visited the site in 334 BCE and made sacrifices at the alleged tombs of the Homeric heroes Achilles and Patroclus.
In November 2001, geologists John C. Kraft from the University of Delaware and John V. Luce from Trinity College, Dublin presented the results of investigations, begun in 1977, into the geology of the region. They compared the present geology with the landscapes and coastal features described in the Iliad and other classical sources, notably Strabo's Geographia, and concluded that there is a regular consistency between the location of Schliemann's Troy and other locations such as the Greek camp, the geological evidence, descriptions of the topography and accounts of the battle in the Iliad. Further work by John Kraft and others was published in 2003.
After the 1995 find of a Luwian biconvex seal at Troy VII, there has been a heated discussion over the language that was spoken in Homeric Troy. Frank Starke of the University of Tübingen recently demonstrated that the name of Priam is connected to the Luwian compound Priimuua, which means 'exceptionally courageous'. 'The certainty is growing that Wilusa/Troy belonged to the greater Luwian-speaking community', although it is not entirely clear whether Luwian was primarily the official language or in daily colloquial use.
A small minority of contemporary writers argue that Homeric Troy was not in Anatolia, but located elsewhere: England, Croatia, and Scandinavia have been proposed. These theories have not been accepted by mainstream scholars.
The layers of ruins in the citadel at Hisarlik are numbered Troy I Troy IX, with various subdivisions:
The archaeological site of Troy was added to the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1998.
The last city on this site, Hellenistic Ilium, was founded by Romans during the reign of the emperor Augustus and was an important trading city until the establishment of Constantinople in the fourth century as the eastern capital of the Roman Empire. In Byzantine times the city declined gradually, and eventually disappeared.
Beneath part of the Roman city, the ruins of which cover a much larger area than the citadel excavated by Schliemann, recent excavations have found traces of an additional Bronze-Age settlement area (of lower status than the adjoining citadel) defended by a ditch.
In August 2003 following a magnetic imaging survey of the fields below the fort, a deep ditch was located and excavated among the ruins of a later Greek and Roman city. Remains found in the ditch were dated to the late Bronze Age, the alleged time of Homeric Troy. It is claimed by Korfmann that the ditch may have once marked the outer defences of a much larger city than had previously been suspected.
An unnamed Hittite king wrote a letter to the king of the Ahhiyawa, treating him as an equal and implying that Miletus (Millawanda) was controlled by the Ahhiyawa, and also referring to an earlier "Wilusa episode" involving hostility on the part of the Ahhiyawa. This people has been identified with the Homeric Greeks (Achaeans). The Hittite king was long held to be Mursili II (ca 1321-1296), but since the 1980s his son Hattusili III(1265-1240) is commonly preferred, although Mursili's other son Muwatalli (ca 1296-1272) is still considered a possibility.
The nation T-R-S is mentioned as one of the "Peoples of the Sea" in ancient Egyption inscriptions.
An Egyptian inscription at Deir al-Madinah records a victory of Ramesses III over Sea Peoples, including some named Tursha (spelled [twrš3] in Egyptian script). These are probably the same as the earlier Teresh (found written as [trš.w]) of the Merneptah Stele, commemorating Merneptah’s victory in a Libyan campaign at about 1220 BCE. Although this may be too early for the Trojan War, some scholars have connected the name to the city mentioned in Hittite records as Taruisas, or Troy.
These identifications were rejected by many scholars as being improbable or at least unprovable. Trevor Bryce in 1998 championed them in his book The Kingdom of the Hittites, citing a recovered piece of the so-called Manapa-Tarhunda letter, which refers to the kingdom of Wilusa as beyond the land of the Seha (known in classical times as the Caicus) river, and near the land of Lazpa (Lesbos Island).
Recent evidence adds weight to the theory that Wilusa is identical to archaeological Troy. Hittite texts mention a water tunnel at Wilusa, and a water tunnel excavated by Korfmann, previously thought to be Roman, has been dated to around 2600 BCE. The identifications of Wilusa with archaeological Troy and of the Achaeans with the Ahhiyawa remain controversial, but gained enough popularity during the 1990s to be considered a majority opinion.
Such was the fame of the Epic Cycle in Roman and medieval times that it was built upon to provide a starting point for various founding myths of national origins. The progenitor of all of them is undoubtedly that promulgated by Virgil in the Aeneid, tracing the ancestry of the founders of Rome, more specifically the Julio-Claudian dynasty, to the Trojan prince Aeneas. The heroes of Troy, both those noted in the epic texts or those purpose-invented, continued to perform the role of founder for the nations of Early Medieval Europe. Denys Hay noted the widespread adoption of Trojan forebears as an authentication of national status, in Europe: the Emergence of an Idea (Edinburgh 1957). The Roman de Troie was common cultural ground for European governing classes, for whom a Trojan pedigree was gloriously ancient, and it established the successor-kingdoms of which they were direct heirs as equals of the Romans. A Trojan pedigree justified the occupation of parts of Rome's erstwhile territories (Huppert 1965).
The Franks filled the lacunae of their legendary origins with Trojan and pseudo-Trojan names; in Fredegar's seventh-century chronicle of Frankish history, Priam appears as the first king of the Franks. The Trojan origin of Franks and France was such an established article of faith that in 1714 the learned Nicolas Fréret was Bastilled for showing through historical criticism that the Franks had been Germanic, a sore point counter to Valois and Bourbon propaganda.
Similarly Geoffrey of Monmouth traces the legendary Kings of the Britons to a supposed descendant of Aeneas called Brutus. Snorri Sturluson, in the Prologue to his Prose Edda, converts several half-remembered characters from Troy into characters from Norse mythology, and refers to them having made a journey across Europe towards Scandinavia, setting up kingdoms as they went.
A large number of tourists visit the site each year, mostly coming from Istanbul by bus or by ferry via Çanakkale, the nearest major town about 50 km to the north-east. The visitor sees a highly commercialised site, with a large wooden horse built as a playground for children, then shops and a museum. The archaeological site itself is, as a recent writer said, "a ruin of a ruin," because the site has been frequently excavated, and because Schliemann's archaeological methods were very destructive: in his conviction that the city of Priam would be found in the earliest layers, he demolished many interesting structures from later eras, including all of the house walls from Troy II. For many years also the site was unguarded and was thoroughly looted. However what remains, particularly if put into context by one of the knowledgeable professional guides to the site, is an illuminating insight into civilizations of the Bronze Age, if not to the legends.