Facts about Troy

We found 25 facts about Troy

A forgotten ancient city returned to history from mythology

Troy is a famous ancient city, best known for the war described by Homer.  There were many settlements in its area, which fell into decline only to be reborn in the following years. After the fall of the Roman Empire, Troy eventually fell into ruins and gradually disappeared from human consciousness. The city was considered mythical until the 19th century.

It was rediscovered by a German entrepreneur, Heinrich Schlieman, who had believed in its existence since childhood and was determined to restore it to the pages of history.

Troy (Ilion) is an ancient city located in Troad - ancient Carina in northwestern Anatolia - on the western coast of Asia Minor on the Skamander River.

The region is now part of the Turkish province of Çanakkale, where there is an archaeological site containing the ruins of ancient Troy, situated on Hisarlık Hill near the village of Tevfikiye.

The city was founded on a grassy plain, on a site indicated by a patched cow.

According to Greek mythology, the city was founded by Ilos, sometimes called Ilion, son of Tros of Dardania and Callirrhoe (Callirhoe), daughter of the river god Skamander. The story goes that Ilos won a tournament organised by the King of Phrygia and was rewarded with fifty young men and women. The king of Phrygia also gave Ilos a cow and, following the advice of the oracle, ordered Ilos to build a city on the spot where the cow would rest. At the location indicated by the cow, Ilos founded the city.

When his father died, Ilos, who wanted to remain king of Troy, gave the throne of Dardania to his brother. 

Legend has it that the gods Apollo and Poseidon helped build the mighty walls of Troy during the reign of Ilos' son Laomedont, who was succeeded by Priam.

The history of the city dates back to 3000 BC.

It is most likely that the first settlement, now known as Troy I, existed from 3000 to 2500 BC. The gate to the settlement and one of the houses have been restored from this period.  The inhabitants of Troy used copper and bronze tools.

Archaeological work carried out on Hisarlik hill has led to the discovery of the remains of as many as nine cities.

The cities built on the hill were destroyed and rebuilt on the same site.

Troy II existed between 2500 and 2200 BC.

It consisted of 7 levels stacked on top of each other. Each level was surrounded by walls. The following has been found from this period: pottery made on the potter's wheel, silver, gold and amber jewellery.

Troy III, IV and V existed from 2200 to 1700 BC. 

During this period the city developed gradually. Archaeological finds indicate trade links between Troy and early Greek city-states, including Mycenae.

Troy VI, which existed between 1700 and 1300 BC, was already a large city with strong fortifications.

Archaeological excavations show that it had a citadel. The stone walls were almost 5 metres thick and probably 8 metres high, with walls of dried brick on top. The streets of Troy were paved and guttered. The city covered an area of about 350,000 square metres and was the largest city on the Aegean Sea.

The city was a centre for the development of handicrafts, especially pottery and textiles. The city was surrounded by arable land, vineyards and olive groves. Archaeologists have found numerous horse bones, which indicate that the inhabitants were involved in horse breeding.

Troy VI was destroyed by an earthquake. 

Archaeologists have also found many arrowheads and spears, as well as sling projectiles. The city, weakened by the earthquake, was probably attacked and looted.

Troy VII, which existed from 1300 to 950 BC, is the rebuilt Troy VI.  

It is likely that some of the buildings that survived the disaster were used to rebuild the city. They were used to build long stretches of defensive walls and to extend the fortifications, and archaeological work has uncovered huge food storage vessels - called pithos - buried in the ground. Traces of a huge fire were found in the city, which probably caused its destruction.

In the period between Troy VII and VIII - until 700 B.C. - archaeologists found no traces of settlement. This could mean that the hill was not inhabited at that time, or that there was only a small settlement on it.

During Troy VIII, which lasted from 700 to 85 BC, the city flourished again.

The ruins of the magnificent Temple of Athena and the remains of two altars date from this period.

Troy IX existed from 85 BC to 500 AD. It was called Ilium.

It was a Hellenistic-Roman city. The most interesting discoveries from this period are the ruins of the Odeon (a covered building with an amphitheatre) and the Bouleuterion (a building with a rectangular plan, preceded by a courtyard with colonnaded porches and an entrance portal).

After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, Troy fell into decline and was gradually forgotten. 

Over time, people stopped believing in its existence and thought that the city was just part of a myth.

Troy is best known for the war that took place there, which is described in the ancient Greek epic poem The Iliad, written by Homer.

The Iliad was probably written in the 8th or 9th century BC. There are also references to Troy in another of Homer's works, The Odyssey. The legend was also used by the Roman poet Virgil in his epic poem The Aeneid, published in 17 BC. The Trojan story was also the leitmotif of the modern Polish drama Odprawa posłów greckich, written by Jan Kochanowski in 1577.

The story of the Trojan War, one of the most famous conflicts in world history, is one of the most important elements of Western culture.

According to Greek mythology, the war broke out when Paris, son of King Priam of Troy, with the help of the goddess Aphrodite, kidnapped Helen, the beautiful wife of King Menelaus of Sparta, from the Spartan court. Paris also robbed the Spartan treasury. In doing so, he trampled on the sacred laws of hospitality, for he was received in Sparta with great hospitality and full honours.

The outraged Greeks, determined to recapture Helen, gathered an army, reportedly ten times the size of Troy's, under the command of Menelaus' brother Agamemnon, king of Mycenae, and marched on Troy. Troy was besieged and attacked for 10 years and finally, tired of the long war, the Greeks (Achaeans) decided to take the city by trickery. They left a wooden horse on the walls of Troy and sailed away. The Trojans dragged the horse into the city and began to celebrate their victory. When they were tired of feasting and fell asleep, the warriors who had been hiding inside got out of the wooden horse and opened the gates of the city to let in the Greek troops, who returned under cover of darkness. Troy was taken, and King Menelaus of Sparta, having seen his wife, whose beauty had not changed with the passing of time, forgave her infidelity and took her as his wife to the court of Sparta.

Homer's poem does not describe the entire war, but only 50 days in its final year, when a breakthrough happened.
As the main sources for the course of the Trojan War are only the works of Homer, it is impossible to determine the actual events of the Trojan conflict. 

To this day, scholars argue about whether the war actually took place.

Troy, described by Homer in the Iliad, was probably the seventh city built on the Hisarlik Hill. 

Archaeologists have found skeletons of people who died violently and traces of a huge fire, which may be evidence of the destruction of the city after its capture by Agamemnon. Clay jars for grain, oil and wine found buried in the floors of houses may be evidence of the long siege.

The most famous symbol of the Trojan War is the wooden horse used to capture the city. 

From around the 18th century BC, warring empires in the Middle East used a wooden machine on wheels, armed with a huge spear (battering ram), to breach the walls of besieged cities. The machine was shaped like a horse and the spear was operated by warriors who entered the machine. The machine was called a wooden donkey, by others a wooden one-horned animal.

The Iliad - Homer's beautiful epic - led to one of the greatest archaeological discoveries of all time.

As late as the 19th century, historians and archaeologists were convinced that the Trojan War and Troy itself did not exist. The city was thought to be part of a myth. The situation changed when a wealthy German industrialist, Heinrich Schlieman, began his search for ancient Troy, fulfilling his youthful dream of discovering it.

He began his excavations in 1871 at the site described by Homer - near the Skamander River, opposite Gallipoli in modern Turkey. He soon discovered the ruins of the legendary city - not one, as it turned out, but nine.

On 14 June 1873, Schliemann discovered the so-called treasure of Priam.

The treasure consisted of 8833 pieces of gold, silver, electron (an alloy of gold and silver with a small amount of copper and iron) and copper. The treasure, wrapped in a shawl, was carried from the site by Schliemann's wife - the Turkish authorities were not informed of the discovery. The treasure was smuggled to Greece and then to Berlin, where it was placed in a museum.

After the start of the Second World War, the most valuable items in the collection were placed in an anti-aircraft bunker near the Berlin Zoo. In 1945, three treasure chests were given to a Russian officer by the Berlin museum director Wilhelm Unverzagt. When the Soviets returned 4,000 antiquities to the Germans in 1958, the Priam treasure was not among them. As the Russians claimed they had never possessed such a thing, the Treasure of Priam was considered lost.

It was not until 1994 that the public learned of the whereabouts of Priam's treasure.

It turned out that the valuables had been resting all these years in a special room in the numismatic department of the Pushkin Museum in Moscow.

The right to Priam's treasure - one of mankind's most important cultural assets - is the subject of a dispute between Russia, Germany and Turkey.
In 1998, UNESCO declared the city of Troy and its archaeological site a World Heritage Site.
There are 33 US states with cities or towns named Troy, and ten with colleges and universities with sports teams named Trojan.
A number of phraseological compounds used in modern vocabulary come from the Trojan legend.

These include: "Achilles' heel", "apple of discord", "Trojan horse".

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