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Are they spoils of war? Are they stolen antiquities? The objects remain in Russia to this day, while the dispute continues. Moorehead, Caroline. Goldmann, Klaus, et al. Hoffman, B. Meyer, Karl E. Rose, Mark. It was the sixth city at Troy, Troy VI as it is known, that expanded during its year lifetime to become a spectacular city, built on a par with Mycenae, Tiryns, Pylos, and other palatial sites on Mainland Greece.

First begun about BCE, Troy VI underwent many renovations, resulting in sub-phases detectable by archaeologists and labeled a-h, before its destruction in approximately BCE. Although there is not much to see today, the final version of this city, Troy VIh, was impressive, sporting high walls and towers of stone surrounding the citadel and protecting the palace and massive buildings inside from potential invaders.

Elaborate gates provided guarded entryways into the city. These gates were easy to protect, but hard to capture. Large houses graced the interior areas of this city, high up on the citadel. It is these remains that Homer seems to be describ- ing, and yet he could not possibly have seen them, for they would have been buried under many feet of earth long before Homer was born, as we have discussed previously.

This was a wealthy city, a desirable plum commanding the Hellespont—the passageway from the Aegean to the Black Sea—and growing wealthy from a combination of trade and taxation. The winds and the current in the Hellespont frequently presented adverse conditions for ships wishing to sail.

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Troy, and presum- ably its harbor facilities at Besiktepe, would have played host to the crews of these ships and their passengers, be they merchants, diplomats, or warriors. Mycenaean imports were also found in Troy VI, which may seem strange in light of the ten-year siege of the city by Agamemnon and his warriors, until one remembers that the Mycenaeans and the Trojans were friendly enough before the war that Paris had visited Menelaus and Helen in their own city. What caused its destruction is still debated today. Carl Blegen, digging several decades later, disagreed, publishing what he said was indisputable evidence for a destruction not by humans, but by Mother Nature.

Blegen felt that Troy VIh had been destroyed by an earthquake, not by humans. His evidence is indeed indisputable—walls knocked out of kilter, huge towers collapsed, and everywhere the signs of tremendous force and upheaval. Troy is not the only place that may have suffered from an earth- quake during the late twelfth and early eleventh centuries BCE — BCE , for there is evidence for earthquake damage at many sites in the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean during this time period, including at Mycenae and Tiryns on Mainland Greece, although it is also clear that these earthquakes did not all take place at the exact same time but were rather part of a series of earthquakes that hit this entire region over the span of approxi- mately fifty years.

The Trojan War: fact or fiction? | OUPblog

Some scholars argued, and indeed still argue, that the Mycenaeans could have taken advantage of the earthquake that hit Troy and waltzed in through suddenly ruined walls that they had been unable to bring down despite ten years of effort. Into this situation comes the Trojan Horse. Although a number of scholars have suggested that the Trojan Horse was actually a battering ram or some other machine of war, one theory in particular holds that the Trojan Horse was not a machine of war, but was instead a poetic metaphor for an earth- quake.

The reasoning is simple: Poseidon was the Greek god of earth- quakes. Poseidon was usually represented by a horse just as Athena was represented by an owl. The Trojan Horse is the earthquake, metaphorically speaking. This is indeed an ingenious suggestion, but perhaps a bit far- fetched. How could the story of the Trojan Horse be made consistent with the theory that Troy was actually destroyed by an earthquake?


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Blegen, Carl W. Troy and the Trojans. Caskey, and Marion Rawson. Princeton: Princeton University Press, International Series Oxford: Tempus Reparatum, Nur, A. Earthquake Storms. The very next city, known to archaeologists as Troy VIIa, was not really a new city, Blegen said; it was simply Troy VIh rebuilt—the walls were patched up and the houses restored.

Even the pottery and other remains left from everyday life remained the same. In other words, it looked to Blegen as if the survivors of the earthquake that leveled Troy VIh had simply picked up the pieces of their lives, rebuilt, and carried on as before. There is even Mycenaean pottery found in Troy VIIa, which would make no sense if the Mycenaeans had completely destroyed the city at the end of Troy VI and left it a smoking ruin, as Homer describes; instead, it looks like the Mycenaeans were still trading with the Trojans, or at least their pottery was still reaching the city of Troy VIIa.

However, this city was also a bit unusual. Although there was very little left still to excavate up on the citadel of Troy, Blegen made the best of what had been left to him and proceeded to make a series of spectacular discoveries. Blegen noticed that the large and prosperous houses located within the citadel of Troy VIh were rebuilt in Troy VIIa with many party walls subdividing their interiors, as if many families were now living where a single family unit had lived previously.

He also noticed other indications that the population of this fortified citadel had suddenly expanded to many times its previous size. By so burying these jars, the inhabitants were not only able to keep some perishable items cold, even in an era that had no refrigeration, but were also able to double or even triple their capacity for storing grain, wine, olive oil, and other necessities of life. His suspicions were con- firmed, he believed, by the discovery that Troy VIIa had been destroyed by humans—in a terrible battle about the year BCE. Blegen found skele- tons, or portions of unburied bodies, in the streets within the citadel.

He found arrowheads, of specifically Aegean manufacture. He found evidence of fire and of houses destroyed by burning.

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As further proof, he could point to the next city, the city that was constructed directly upon the ashes and burnt debris of Troy VIIa. It was not simply the second phase of the same city; now the town plan was completely altered, the architecture of the houses completely unlike what had come before, and the pottery was new and different. Blegen believed that they had—he thought that the Mycenaean warriors led by Agamemnon, who had burnt the city to the ground, had also killed or enslaved all of its inhabitants before returning to Mainland Greece and their homes after ten long years of war.


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He had finally solved the mystery and identified the city of the Trojan War. The city that Blegen had excavated was a city under siege; it was a poor city, a reconstructed city, with its large houses subdivided by party walls and with storage jars buried underfoot. And yet, how should we resolve this dilemma? Which city was Homer describing? But then who had destroyed Troy VIIa?

They have made amazing discoveries, including a new lower city and an underground water system constructed during the Early Bronze Age and used for the next two thousand years. He also found evidence of destruction of the city by fire and war. Korfmann and his team were concerned with reinvestigating the cities of Troy VI and VII, in order to determine how large the cities were, what life was like there during the Late Bronze Age, and what exactly happened to these cities that brought each of them to such dramatic endings.

Korfmann stead- fastly maintained that he was not investigating the Trojan War, nor was he even interested in either proving or disproving the legend, but rather that he was investigating a very interesting Late Bronze Age city that had internation- al connections and was a powerhouse in the region during the end of the second millennium BCE. Regardless of his protestations, every find and every discovery that Korfmann and his team made were closely followed both by the archaeologi- cal world and the media.

This brings up an important question that has yet to be resolved: namely, where are the royal archives of Troy, which must have existed at one point in time? Why have no letters been found, no correspondence to and from the rulers of Troy and the rulers of other countries?

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Perhaps no such archives ever exist- ed, although this seems unlikely if Hisarlik is indeed Troy. More likely is the possibility that Schliemann and his men may have thrown out the clay tablets on which the royal archive would have been written, not recognizing them during their hasty excavations through the palaces of Troy VI and Troy VIIa. If Schliemann is not guilty, then the earlier Greeks and Romans were the ones responsible, for as mentioned earlier, they had cleared the central part of the mound in order to build temples to Athena and Jupiter, and may well have tossed out the royal archive without knowing or caring that they were doing so.

For our purpos- es, in discussing Troy and the Trojan War, the most important of their discov- eries was that they were able to prove, through excavation, the existence of an enormous lower city, complete with a defensive ditch and walls, which increases both the size and the population of Troy more than ten-fold, and makes it clear that Troy was indeed a wealthy and prosperous city.

It is not surprising that there is a lower city at Troy, for most of the con- temporary Mycenaean palatial sites have both a citadel and a lower city; it is only surprising that it had not been discovered for so long, but it took modern scientific equipment, fancy technology, and some educated guesswork to determine where Korfmann and his team should dig. The main tunnel had been discovered early on during the renewed excavations, but it was thought to date to the Roman period, because of the remains of fish ponds and other constructions in and near the entrance to the tunnel.

A grand Bronze Age city

Indeed, these remains do date to the Roman period, but Korfmann and his team were able to date the construc- tion of the tunnel system itself back to the Early Bronze Age, during the third millennium BCE, and to show that it had been in use for the better part of two thousand years. The fancy technology sometimes led Korfmann and his team astray, as seen in an initial announcement that their equipment indicated the presence of a tremendous fortification wall surrounding the lower city at a distance of one hundred meters or more away from the citadel.

Upon excavation, it turned out that it was not a fortification wall that was present, but rather a defensive ditch, which had filled up with dirt and garbage over the millennia and thus appeared on their scans as a solid mass that they interpreted as a wall. It is still an important discovery, nevertheless! His team discovered Aegean-style arrowheads embedded in the walls of houses, entire skeletons and bodies lying unburied, and piles of slingstones ready to be used by the defenders—all clear evidence of a city under attack by enemy forces.

Unfortunately, at the present time, it is apparently too difficult to date these destruction layers in the lower city, and so it is currently unclear whether these destructions represent the demise of the city of Troy VI or the city of Troy VIIa. It is also not completely clear who caused the destruction of the lower city, for Aegean-style arrowheads could have been used by the Mycenaeans. This led to a mock trial held at the university, which ended in a fist-fight between Korfmann and Kolb—a modern mini Trojan War, as it were. In the end,. Korfmann died suddenly in August What could have happened to the royal archives of Troy?

What are the implications of the discovery of a large lower city of Troy? Heimlich, R. Korfmann, Manfred. Shanks, H. Even if we are agreed that the Trojan War was a historical event, there still remain a number of additional questions. Is it possible that the Trojan War was a process, rather than an event, and that Homer used literary license to telescope two centuries of intermittent warfare into a single ten-year epic struggle? In a list of possible reasons, where does love rank?

Was the war really fought because of Helen? Would it not make more sense to argue for an economic or political motive—a Mycenaean grab for more territory? Was Helen just an excuse for a war that would have been fought anyway? There have been any number of suggestions, running the gamut from economic reasons to territorial expansion to love.

One of the most interesting suggestions is that the Trojan War was fought over fishing rights. That would seem a strange reason to fight a war, were it not for the fact that this is still happening today. More likely is the possibility that the Mycenaeans wanted Troy either for itself—because it commands the Hellespont and the route to the Black Sea and they could tax and trade with the ships who sailed by—or because they were interested in actually getting access to the Black Sea themselves. If they wanted to go to the Black Sea, they would have to go by Troy, and one might imagine that over time it would start to grate if they had to pay taxes and tribute to the Trojans every time they sailed by.

What was in the Black Sea area that the Mycenaeans might have wanted? All kinds of things—if we look at later Archaic and Classical Greek history, we can see, for example, the Greeks going up to the Black Sea to get grain and perhaps things like precious metals as well, including gold, silver, and maybe copper as well. The problem is that we do not actually have much archaeological evidence that the Mycenaeans were in fact active in the Black Sea area.