Which Troy is this?

by CameronM Wed, October 01 2003 06:06

We stayed overnight stay at Canakkale (Çanakkale) located on the southern coast of the Dardanelles, which is famous for not a lot except being the biggest town near both Gallipoli and the ruins of Troy. Although the guidebooks dismiss Troy as just a pile of ruins, the guide for our half-day tour made it as informative and enjoyable as possible.
The ruins of the ancient city of Troy are located about 50 kilometres from Canakkale. The city was immortalised in the epic poem the Iliad written by Homer, which tells part of the story of the final year of the 10-year long Trojan War.

Part of the problem with the ruins is that the "famous" Troy, the one with the Helen, Paris and the Trojan horse, is actually only one of nine cities built on the same hill. This makes it extremely difficult to get a feel for its size and shape. In many places walls from one city have been used in the construction of another city hundreds of years later. The last city to be built there was the vast Roman city of Illium and excavations have been limited to the older sections of Troy. The dig director apparently thinks there were enough Roman cities excavated and has ignored most of the area known to contain significant ruins.

To illustrate the confusion faced by tourists, the picture below shows the wall of Homeric Troy on the left, later constructions in the middle and part of the Roman wall on the right. The Romans, wanting a level building platform, basically filled the entire site, which saved many of the ruins from the elements and theft.
The guide did at least answer one question that had plagued me when I first saw the ruins. The "famous" Troy had been attacked by Greeks who made their camp on the shore; however the shoreline now sits many miles away. The guide explained that Troy's position of power was due to its harbour, where ships would wait until wind and weather allowed them to progress further. This harbour however has silted up over the centuries and is now farmland.

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