With Çanakkale Governorship’s proposal to “declare 2018 as the Year of Troy”, in the 20th year of city’s inclusion in UNESCO’s list, Ministry of Culture and Tourism declared 2018 as “Year of Troy”.
One of the most important ancient settlements in the world, located at the top of Hisarlık hill about 30 kilometres south of Çanakkale, the history of Troy city dates back to five thousand years ago. Homer’s work regarded as the origin of European literature was based on Troy city, which was included in UNESCO World Cultural Heritage List in 1998.
There are traces of nine different civilizations in nine layers where five thousand years old Troy is located. The earliest layer of settlement in Troy dates back to 3000-2500 BC and Early Bronze Age. Permanent settlements are observed after these dates, and the layers in Troy end with the Roman period between 85th century BC and 8th century BC.
THE FOUNDATION OF EUROPEAN CIVILIZATION
Mentioned in Homer’s works Iliad and Odyssey, Troy city is on the eighth layer between 700 to 85 BC. There is an uninterrupted stratification in these nine layers, and Troy is considered as a reference point for other archaeological sites in Europe and the Aegean. Archaeological digs are still carried out in this spectacular historic city, initially excavated by Heinrich Schliemann in 1871, and later by W. Dörpfeld and C. W Blegen. In fact, a new layer has been uncovered in recent years, and there are strong opinions that the number of layers increased from nine to ten.
The wars in Troy have been the subject of numerous myths. The most notable is the epic titled Iliad by Homer, who lived between years 900 and 800 BC. Homer’s Iliad depicts 51 days in the last year of the nine-years long siege of Troy by Greeks. In the beginning, Achilles gets angry with Agamemnon and withdraws from the war, and in the end, Achilles returns to war, kills Hector and drags his body around city of Troy.
WHAT HAPPENED IN TROY?
Troy city forced almost all small city states in Thrace, Macedonia, Thessaly, Morea and Ionian and Crete Island, engaged in marine trade by virtue of their positions overlooking Dardanelles Strait, and states on other large and small islands scattered across the Aegean Sea, to pay money. Troy who gained great wealth by this means, attracted all the attention.
King Priam was the ruler of Troy city. According to Greek mythology, when king’s eldest son Paris was shepherding on Mount Ida, Zeus assigned him to determine which of the three goddesses, Hera, Athena and Aphrodite, was more beautiful. Paris selected Aphrodite. Pleased with his decision, Aphrodite awarded Paris with the love of Helen of Sparta who had a legendary beauty. But there was a serious problem; Helena was the wife of Spartan King Menelaus. Paris found a way, kidnapped Helen from Sparta, and brought her to Troy. Upon hearing this, Menelaus united all the Achaean troops under the leadership of his brother Mycenaean King Agamemnon to save the honour of Sparta trampled on, and sent the troops to Troy. But there was another reason for this: Troy was a wealthy state due to its strategic position.
Greek allies arrived in more than 500 ships, and landed. The Trojans who received news of the siege, took shelter in the citadel. At that period, battles were fought in turns and in face to face duels. Those who carried swords, would first fight against the weak and later against stronger enemies. During nine years of siege, warriors who carried swords from both sides fought. No party prevailed even tough there were uphill battles. Those who fought last were the strongest and most courageous of Greek warriors, Achilles and Hector of Troy. Achilles killed Hector first. Later Achilles, drunk with victory, was killed by an arrow that landed on his heel.
Both parties had lost their best fighters. The Greeks lost all hope. At that time Ulysses, the most cunning of the Greek warriors, came up with an idea… They knew that they could not win this battle by fighting but by cheating. So they resorted to a trick that would survive for centuries. They built a giant wooden horse, and hid warriors who volunteered inside the horse. They pretended defeat, and embarking on their ships, they left in twilight. Trojans thought that the Greeks escaped, so they left the citadel, and looted the goods left behind by the Greeks. They also found a giant wooden horse among the loots. They dragged these interesting spoils to their castle.
While Trojans celebrated their victory the Greeks secretly came out of the horse during the night, slaughtered the guards, and opened the castle gates. The Trojans thought that Greek allies had escaped but they were in fact hiding. When night fell, they returned, and waited for the castle gates to open. The Trojans who had not anticipated such a trick, were caught unprepared. As Trojan men were killed, women and children were taken prisoner, and the city was burned down.
IS TROY AN EASTERN CIVILIZATION?
Prof. Manfred (Osman) Korfmann, who leaded Troy excavations for many years and was naturalized as a Turkish citizen by decision of the Council of Ministers in 2013, stated that the city’s former seal discovered years ago, was not in Greek but in Luwian language, and that Luwian was a version of Hittite spoken in Western Anatolia. As a matter of fact, a recent research shows that Troy was an independent and important centre of civilization and not a part of Greek civilization, and there were cultural interactions with the Eastern civilizations rather than with the Western civilizations.