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.
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.
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