The ten lay­ers of Troy


Timeless Travels Magazine - - FOCUS ON TROY -

Troy I-III, Mar­itime Tro­jan Cul­ture (c.2920-2200 B.C.)

The distri­bu­tion area of this cul­ture spread from the shores of the Mar­mara Sea up to the is­lands within these bound­aries. Its com­mer­cial and cul­tural re­la­tions ex­tended from the in­te­ri­ors of the Mediter­ranean (Malta), to South­east­ern Europe (Bul­garia) and to Ana­to­lia (Eskişe­hir re­gion) and more­over up to Cen­tral Asia (Afghanistan).

Troy I (c.2920-2550 B.C. – Early Bronze Age II)

The old­est set­tle­ment has 14 build­ing phases, de­spite its vil­lage-like struc­ture, and has de­fence walls made from rough stones that were re­newed and strength­ened many times. The quadri­lat­eral-tow­ered south­ern main gate is the most sig­nif­i­cant en­trance system for the study of ar­chi­tec­tural his­tory in Asia Mi­nor. Long houses ar­ranged in a row side-by-side were found at the ‘Sch­lie­mann Trench’, the fa­mous ditch dug by Hein­rich Sch­lie­mann dur­ing his ini­tial ex­ca­va­tion of Troy in the 19th cen­tury.

One of these long houses (house 102) is ac­cepted as the old­est megaron struc­ture in the re­gion. The sources of liveli­hood for the peo­ple were agri­cul­ture, an­i­mal hus­bandry and fish­ing. The dark brown-black, partly white or­na­mented pot­tery ex­ca­vated is, of course, hand­made.

Troy VI, Troy High Cul­ture (c. 1740/301180 B.C.) Troy VI (c. 1740/30-1300 B.C. – Mid­dle Bronze Age / Late Bronze Age): Homer’s Troy or (W)İlios / Taru(w)isa – The city thought to be Wilusa

The most highly de­vel­oped phase of Troy was in the Troy VI pe­riod. The Hit­tites called Troy Wilusa, that is, ( W)Ilion and the city was an ad­min­is­tra­tive and trade cen­tre. The old build­ings were not re-used when found­ing this new beylic king­dom that cov­ered an area of 20,000 m² with its ci­tadel. This city was un­ri­valled in size and im­por­tance among the set­tle­ments pre­vi­ously con­sid­ered on the 100-kilo­me­tre area of the His­ar­lık hill. The city, due to its ge­o­graph­i­cal lo­ca­tion, held an im­por­tant place within the Eastern Mediter­ranean po­lit­i­cal system. It was for­ti­fied with de­fence walls, tow­ers and bas­tions, cov­ered with rec­tan­gu­lar stones, four­five me­tres in width and six me­tres in height. There was a sun-dried brick up­per struc­ture con­structed on top of these stones and so the height of the walls must have reached 10 me­tres. What draws at­ten­tion in par­tic­u­lar is the ‘saw­tooth’ wall tech­nique. These walls are quite high and de­signed in the form of waves (most likely built to with­stand the force of earth­quakes), sur­round­ing an area of 200 x 300 me­tres.

The ci­tadel could be en­tered from many dif­fer­ent gates and pas­sages. The main gate was a pro­tected tower while the south gate was guarded with stone ste­les (stone blocks placed per­pen­dic­u­larly). A road laid firmly with stones ran to the cen­tre of the tu­mu­lus.

The build­ings within the ci­tadel were be­hind the city walls and ris­ing on cir­cu­lar-shaped ter­races. There were large build­ings (and megarons), some two-sto­ries high, lo­cated in the in­ner area of the city walls and in the side sec­tions of the city cen­tre.

There is no doubt that this city’s con­struc­tion was planned and car­ried out by a strong and ef­fi­cient cen­tral­ized power. This build­ing phase was ex­ca­vated un­der the direction of Dörpfeld and was in­ter­preted by him to be the Troy/Ilium of Homer (13th cen­tury B.C). The fi­nal build­ing phase of this layer came to an end through a vi­o­lent earth­quake.

Troy VI-late and Troy VIi (=VIIa)

This phase is the same as the pre­vi­ous for the ma­te­rial cul­ture. The same peo­ple who left the city fol­low­ing the earth­quake seem to have re­turned to take up habi­ta­tion. Troy’s im­por­tance in­creased at this time in the power strug­gle be­tween the peo­ple of the king­dom of Ah­hiyawa (usu­ally ac­cepted as the Achaeans Homer wrote about) and the Hit­tites with their cap­i­tal at Hat­tusa. Friendly re­la­tions be­tween the King­dom of Ah­hiyawa and the Hit­tites are at­tested ear­lier, but de­gen­er­ated by about the

time of this phase which cor­re­sponds to Herodotus’ dates for the Tro­jan War (c. 1,250 B.C). There is ev­i­dence of con­struc­tion projects re­lated to war­fare through­out this phase: de­fence walls were raised and store­houses built and stocked with sup­plies. The 13th cen­tury B.C. was a pe­riod of high cul­tural ten­sions in this re­gion and this build­ing phase at­tests to the same kinds of con­flicts which took place else­where. It has been sug­gested that the con­flict be­tween the Hit­tites of Wilusa and the Achaeans of Ah­hiyawa was the his­tor­i­cal ba­sis for Homer’s epics con­cern­ing the Tro­jan War.

Troy VIi (=Troy VIIa) (circa 1300-1180 B.C. = Late Bronze Age, Homer’s Troy or (W)Ilios / Taru(w)isa / the city ac­cepted to be Wilusa)

The city was de­mol­ished to a great ex­tent as the re­sult of an earth­quake and the set­tle­ment was again re-es­tab­lished by the former peo­ple. Un­der­ground store­rooms were added within the ci­tadel. The former build­ings re­mained and were reused and the de­fence system also con­tin­ued to be used as new tow­ers were con­structed along it and new roads were made. This phase does not in­di­cate any in­ter­rup­tion in the ma­te­rial cul­ture of the site. On the con­trary, ev­i­dence sug­gests an in­crease in af­flu­ence.

Even so, there is also ev­i­dence of com­mu­nal fear of out­side threats and an over­all tense si­t­u­a­tion ex­pe­ri­enced by the peo­ple. For ex­am­ple, en­trances that were pre­vi­ously open in ear­lier phases were closed at this time. Fur­ther, the walled set­tle­ment grad­u­ally be­came more crowded, both within the ci­tadel and out­side of it. The fact that the Beşik Grave­yard and the set­tle­ments out­side of Troy were aban­doned sug­gests that peo­ple sought the safety of the walled city.

The city must have been quite crowded in­deed as it is es­ti­mated, based on cal­cu­la­tions con­cern­ing agri­cul­tural yield in the area and other con­sid­er­a­tions, that the im­me­di­ate re­gion was

ca­pa­ble of feed­ing close to 10,000 per­sons and that Troy could have had such a pop­u­la­tion at this time. Ap­prox­i­mately 100 years later, the city of Troy/ Wilusa was de­mol­ished c. 1,180 B.C. but this time war, not fire, was the cause of the de­struc­tion.

Troy VIj (Troy VIIb1) Tran­si­tion Pe­riod (c. 1180-1130 B. C. – Tran­si­tion to Early Iron Age)

In this brief tran­si­tional pe­riod, it seems some in­no­va­tions were aban­doned in favour of older tra­di­tions. For ex­am­ple, hand­made pot­tery emerged on a large scale at this time af­ter the pot­ter’s wheel had been in use for hun­dreds of years. For­ti­fi­ca­tions were re­con­structed but lack the artis­tic qual­ity of ear­lier eras and the ar­chi­tec­ture of this phase over­all is poorer than in pre­vi­ous ones. The peo­ple who re­turned to the city seem to have lacked the re­sources to prop­erly re­store it and this cor­re­sponds to the tra­di­tional Greek view of the fall of Troy: that the city was aban­doned for a time af­ter the war and could not rise again to its former glory. This build­ing phase was con­cluded by an­other fire.

Troy VIIb2 and Troy VIIb3, (par­tial) Troy Cul­ture un­der the In­flu­ence of the Balkans (c. 1150-950 B.C. – Early Iron Age)

New el­e­ments were con­sciously de­vel­oped at this time in con­trast to the former tra­di­tion in the sec­ond and third phases of Troy VIIb. The pot­ter’s wheel re­merged in the cre­ation of pot­tery along­side hand­made ce­ram­ics which have at­tributes as­so­ci­ated with the North-eastern Balkans and the Western Black Sea Re­gion. The pot­tery of these re­gions is or­na­mented with grooves and pro­jec­tions and so is the pot­tery found at the site of Troy dur­ing this pe­riod.

The con­struc­tion of small-plan build­ings be­came con­cen­trated in the area within the in­te­rior of the ci­tadel and im­me­di­ately out­side of the ci­tadel. The lower parts of the walls dur­ing the Troy VIIb2 phase were cov­ered with stones (or­thostats) per­pen­dic­u­larly and ir­reg­u­larly and traces of an­other phase (VIIb3) were en­coun­tered dur­ing ex­ca­va­tion of these walls.

Hia­tus (c. 950-720 / 700 B.C.)

This was a very brief 250-year pe­riod of set­tle­ment dur­ing which it is prob­a­ble that squat­ters and way­ward trav­ellers lived at the site. It is pos­si­ble that rit­u­als were still ob­served at the ci­tadel but there is no ev­i­dence of an or­gan­ised cen­tral govern­ment nor any high de­gree of cul­ture or civil­i­sa­tion at all at the site. The walls and build­ings from the late Bronze Age were still in­tact, and most likely af­forded some pro­tec­tion from the el­e­ments, but the city at this time would have been re­garded a ruin.

Troy VIII, Greek Ilium (c. 700-85 B.C. - From the Ar­chaic Pe­riod to the Hel­lenis­tic Pe­riod)

The old­est build­ing ex­tant from this phase was con­structed by the Greeks who came af­ter 700 B.C. from the Ae­o­lian re­gions dur­ing the era when Homer lived and wrote. As vo­tive of­fer­ings show, Troy was not only con­sid­ered a sa­cred city dur­ing the pe­riod when Homer lived but had also been re­garded so pre­vi­ously. Af­ter cen­turies of des­ti­tu­tion, Troy re-emerged as the Greek city of Ilion, site of the Tro­jan War, and was hon­oured with a Tem­ple of Athena built at the ci­tadel and an­other at the sa­cred area to the west. In build­ing these tem­ples, the Greeks de­mol­ished sec­tions of the ear­lier Troy VI and VII. Not much re­mains of these tem­ples in the present day ex­cept the foun­da­tions of the mar­ble and rec­tan­gu­lar al­tars and a mag­nif­i­cent temenos (a piece of land marked off from com­mon uses and ded­i­cated to a god) that en­closed the 9,500 m² rec­tan­gu­lar sa­cred area.

Ilion be­came a po­lit­i­cal and re­li­gious cen­tre of the re­gion and an or­derly new lower city was founded on top of the re­mains of Troy VI/VII. The set­tle­ment be­came a planned city to­wards the end of the 3rd cen­tury B.C. and had right an­gle av­enues and a de­fence wall which ran 3.2 kilo­me­tres long. The sa­cred city of Ilion was com­pletely de­stroyed by the com­man­der Gaius Flav­ius Fim­bria of Rome in 85 B.C. and re-es­tab­lished as the Ro­man city of Ilium (also known as Ilius).

Troy IX Ro­man Ilius / Ilium (85 B.C. – c. A.D. 500)

The Tem­ple of Athena was re­built dur­ing the reign of Em­peror Au­gus­tus who claimed he was de­scended from Ae­neas of Troy. Build­ing and restora­tion ac­tiv­i­ties were re­al­ized through­out the city. A new odeon (small the­atre) was built and the later em­per­ors Hadrian and Cara­calla would re­store this build­ing. Im­me­di­ately next to the odeon was built a sports and bath com­plex that had mo­saic floors (only a part of which have lasted to the present-day) and a large the­atre to the north­west of the tem­ple area was also built (the form can still be seen on the land). The lower city was ex­panded and the pre­vi­ous in­sula with the square set­tle­ment system was ren­o­vated many times and sur­rounded by a 3.6-kilo­me­tre de­fence wall. In time, the city was trans­formed into a func­tional set­tle­ment lack­ing the kinds of artis­tic flour­ishes which char­ac­ter­ized clas­si­cal Troy.

Con­stan­tine the Great planned to make Ilium his new cap­i­tal around the be­gin­ning of the 4th cen­tury A.D. and ini­tia­tives were launched in the city with this ob­jec­tive in mind. Wa­ter was brought to Ilium through aque­ducts and clay pipes from the slopes of Mt. Ida. The plan was aban­doned, how­ever, when the em­peror chose Byzan­tium as his cap­i­tal and re-named it Con­stantino­ple. Ilium con­tin­ued to pros­per un­til earth­quakes de­stroyed it at least twice in c. 500 A.D. The grave­yard of the Ro­mans of Ilium is lo­cated to the south­east of the city’s site in the present day.

Troy X, Byzan­tine Ilium (es­pe­cially the 12th and 13th cen­turies A.D.)

Ilium was a pa­tri­ar­chate cen­tre around the mid­dle of the 4th cen­tury A.D. Af­ter the earth­quakes de­stroyed the city in c. 500 A.D., it was re­built on a more mod­est scale. Traces of this new set­tle­ment were en­coun­tered for the first time around the end of the 12th cen­tury AD. The many graves dis­cov­ered at the bor­der of the former city set­tle­ment and the lo­ca­tion and size of the Greco-Ro­man sa­cred area sug­gests the den­sity of the set­tle­ment. Ilium be­gan to de­cline as its har­bour silted up and it was no longer vi­able as a trade cen­tre. Peo­ple be­gan to va­cate the city and Ilium was fi­nally aban­doned com­pletely af­ter the con­quests of the Ot­tomans to­ward the mid­dle of the 15th cen­tury A.D.

The Odeon, built at the time of Em­peror Au­gus­tus

Hel­lenis­tic pe­riod vase with fig­ures

The city of Troy main­tained its im­por­tance from Troy VIII un­til the Ot­ta­man Pe­riod

A de­fence ditch carved into bedrock in the Lower City, Late Bronze Age On the time­line be­low: Achilles tend­ing Pa­tro­clus wounded by an ar­row. Tondo of an At­tic red-fig­ure kylix, c.500 B.C. from Vulci. Statue of Em­peror Hadrian found in Troy

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