Thursday, 19 November 2015

The Wind Brought Wealth to Troy

The ancient city of Troy engaged in extensive trade as far back as the Bronze Age. The city commanded a strategic point at the southern entrance to the Dardanelles, a narrow strait linking the Black Sea with the Aegean Sea via the Sea of Marmara. It also commanded a land route that ran north along the West Anatolian coast and crossed the narrowest point of the Dardanelles to the European shore. However, what made Troy's position so powerful was the wind. At the entrance to the Dardanelles, a strong wind prevails from the northeast; in addition, a powerful 5-knot surface current flows from the Sea of Marmara into the Aegean Sea. The flat bottom, square rigged ships of the Bronze Age had to lay up at Troy and wait for favourable southerly winds, which blow for only a short period during the summer. The Trojans were able to charge not only tolls for passage through the Dardenelles but also mooring fees. Due to the citys location much business was transacted; goods were exchanged, ships unloaded and reloaded making the city an important trading center between east and west and, in the late Bronze Age between the north and south.
On this picture it is possible to see just how far away the sea has receeded from what was the ancient city of Troy

A continual stream of vessels passes through the Dardenelles Straits today predominately travelling to and from Russia 
The Legend of the Wooden Horse
The war between the Greeks and the Trojans was in its tenth year. The Trojans rejoiced when they awoke one morning to find that the Greek army had sailed away, but they had left behind a strange gift - a giant wooden horse. The Trojans were divided - should they set fire to the statue or should they honour and worship it? Some wise old men realised there was something not quite right and advised setting fire to it. Others warned that if they did so the gods would be angry as the horse is dedicated to Athena, the great goddess of wisdom, and they did not wish to feel her wrath.
Thinking it must be a sacrifice the Trojans opened up the city gates and brought the horse inside and then began to celebrate. The Trojans did not realise that it was a ploy and that Greek soldiers, hidden inside the horse, were now amongst them in the city. After all their celebrations the exhausted Trojans slept, and then quietly a trapdoor hidden within the horse opened enabling the Greek soldiers to creep out. They opened the city gates to admit their colleagues, who had not sailed away, but had concealed themselves in the countryside. They set fire to the city and by dawn the once splendid city of Troy was nothing but a smoking, silent, ruin, and all the Trojans were dead.
There are 9 historical layers of different cities built one on top of another at Troy dating back over 5000 years -  from a Bronze Age settlement to the Greco-Roman metropolis that disappeared around 400 AD.
The walls of the acropolis have now been identified as the site of the Trojan war which took place during the late Bronze Age. The siege of Troy by Spartan and Achaean warriors from Greece has fired the imagination of writers and poets for thousands of years, probably the most familiar being that of Homer. After intensive reading of Homer's Iliad, wealthy German merchant Heinrich Schliemann, an amateur archaeologist, became convinced that Troy was to be found in the south of the Dardanelles, and he began excavation work there in 1871. Two years later he succeeded in making one of his most important discoveries - a discovery which he hid from the Turkish authorities - he had discovered the 'gold of Priam' consisting of more than 1,200 pieces of gold jewellery and ornaments. In 1880 he presented them as a gift to Emperor Wilhelm l, but in 1945, the 'Gold of Troy' was brought from Berlin to the Soviet Union as part of the spoils of war. It was believed to be lost until it turned up in the 1990s in Moscow's Pushkin Museum. Soon after, it was exhibited and made accessible to the public for the first time.
 
Sophia, Schliemann's wife, adorned in some of the gold he excavated in Troy  
The citadel's ring of walls stretches out on both sides of this ramp
It was not easy for me to understand the different city layers and remains of 5,000 years of habitation but nevertheless there is an overwhelming sense of Troy's long history as you view these massive walls.   
The Roman Odeion, a small theatre principally for musical performances 
The South Gate leads into the 6th historical layer of Troy which was probably the principal entrance to the citadel. Only the roadway survives today. It ran in a straight line up into Troy being entirely paved with stone slabs. In the middle of the road a drainage channel, thought to be from the 7th historical layer, runs beneath the paving stones.
via
Should you arrive here, as Alexander the Great did, carrying a copy of Homer in your hand, you will surely hear the echo of battle cries from Agamemnon's fleet across the Trojan plains. 
Footnote - Schliemann also discovered this golden funeral mask of Agamenmonon at Mycenae, Greece, three years after he found the Gold of Priam

38 comments:

  1. How wonderful to visit Troy, source of the most enthralling stories in Ancient History. I love that they have constructed a modern version of the wooden horse, which must enhance the experience. The various layers have confused and intrigued me - how do they figure all that out, I wonder? Thank you for a really interesting post, Rosemary.

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    1. It is not a straight forward site to visit unlike say Ephesus or Aphrodisias where even an amateur like me can understand the layout and buildings. Troy appears to have been continually remade on top of the old remains, most likely as a result of wars, or earthquakes, and also it is 1600 years since it was abandoned. Archaeology on this site must be a challenge.
      The horse was designed and made by a Turkish artist, I believe about 35 years ago.

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  2. How interesting. The replica to the horse looks very tall. I will be sure to go to the museum in Moscow to see that ancient gold if I ever get to Moscow. Great Post

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    1. Can you imagine discovering all of that gold - it looks very finely made too.
      The replica horse is very tall - it is possible to climb to the top and look out of the various windows, but I didn't do that.

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  3. Didn't visit this area but can see how interesting it must be from your always great pix Rosemary.
    Sadly the enemies are still coming but don't require a Trojan Horse!

    Oh for a peaceful world so we can come back to other countries and bask in the beauty, feel the history, and enjoy the people and culture - I feel quite nervous regarding any travel right now.

    Hugs - enjoy each moment.
    Mary -

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    1. The trouble with horrors today is that we see them happening instantly before our eyes in our sitting rooms, but don't let it deter your travels Mary. People continually say to me I think that you are brave going to Turkey, but in all our four visits there I have never seen a single solitary thing that has made me feel anxious or nervous. We are off to Paris for Christmas and I don't have any worries - todays atrocities could happen anywhere, anytime, and in any of our countries.

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  4. Beautiful wooden Trojan Horse, never been to Troy but your stories are so interesting and your photos so bright and sunny.
    Regards, Janneke

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    1. It must rain in Turkey but we have never seen it. Glad you enjoyed this post about Troy.

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  5. The Trojan War has always fascinated me so I loved this post! Reading your introductory comments about how and why Troy became wealthy made me think once again that all wealth is ultimately built on extortion. Well, extortion or outright theft.

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    1. You are right - man is always ready to extort others given the right opportunity.

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  6. When we were living in Turkey I took a class on the Illiad and for the final we went to Troy, quite an experience.

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    1. That must have been an interesting experience

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  7. Dear Rosemary. What an exciting trip you had. We have visited Turkey several times...but that was long ago. We never visited Troy so I thank you for this very informative and beautiful account of your visit.
    I'm thinking of Schliemann and how tenacious he was in his quest to find the gold that he knew was there. Now we can admire it.

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    1. Schliemann was only an amateur archaeologist but seems to have had a treasure seekers talent for looking in in just the right place and finding gold

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  8. Dear Rosemary, such an interesting voyage! And it gives me one more thing I want to see when I fulfill my dream to go to Moscow, thank you!

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    1. Dear Britta - I have been to the Pushkin Museum but in the 1980s before the 'Gold of Priam' was rediscovered - it looks as if it is a wonderful hoard.

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  9. Hello Rosemary, These are breath-taking photos of ancient Troy. That name has such magic that I think almost every state in the U.S. has a city named Troy, with New York's being the most famous. It's funny how when ancient treasures are excavated, their interrupted career of theft, plunder and misappropriation always seems to resume right where it left off.
    --Jim

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    1. Hello Jim - I am also reminded of the modern usage for Trojan Horse - a virus that can infect our computers by installing malware disguised as something which is legitimate.

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  10. I am loving being on your travels with ou, beautiful and fascinating xxx

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    1. Thank you Lyn - I am so pleased that you are finding it of interest.

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  11. I'm not that familiar place, but the story of Troy, yes. Interesting post. Regards.

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  12. A lot of history there. Trojan Horse, who would have thought the name is used today as in virus's.

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    1. Yes, it suddenly struck me subsequently how we still use the word today in various circumstances

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  13. Thank you for the tour of Troy, wooden horse and all.

    Ms Soup

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    1. The wooden horse is one of those images that many children remember from their school days when learning about the legends

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  14. The story of Troy...a interesting history, beautiful pictures too!
    Have a lovely weekend, take care...
    Titti

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    1. Thank you Titti - hope the sun shines on you this weekend♡

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  15. I have not visited that part of the world, thank you for the informative and interesting tour Rosemary.

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    1. Turkey is an absolute treasure trove of remains from antiquity

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  16. Fantastic travel to the ancient ruins of Troy! I like the massive stone walls. The story of Trojan Horse is interesting, which reminded me of another “Trojan horses” with which computer viruses and worms come.

    Yoko

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    1. It is interesting that even today we still use terms relating to antiquity - one of the things that you do not want is a Trogan Horse in your computer which like the original diguises itself as something that is legimate but is not!!!!

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  17. How interesting and what immense antiquity. Troy is one of those places I've heard about all my life but never really thought about before. I am really and truly starting to think I should visit Turkey. Were you travelling on your own or did you go as part of a tour? As for the Horse, I can't help feeling that the Trojans can't have been that bright. I mean, if we discovered our enemies had left something for us would we really carry it into the middle of a walled city without thoroughly examining it first? I feel there might be more to add to that story, if only we could find what it was. ...

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    1. We travelled with a German company called RDS who seem to have very strong links within Turkey.
      The horse is a legend much embellished by Homer and others, but there may be an element of truth in the story somewhere. It is thought that during the 10 year Trojan war the Greeks probably used a battering ram, looking similar to a horse, to try and gain admittance through the city gates to Troy.

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  18. I was always fascinated about the story of Troy when I was at school so it was wonderful to see this post. It's amazing how far the sea has receded. Sarah x

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    1. So much that we learn about Troy is connected with legend so it becomes difficult to separate fact from fiction, but Troy was difinitely a real place and a great city once upon a time.

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