Troy

Reconstruction of the Homeric city of Troy, Turkey
Reconstruction of the Homeric city of Troy, Turkey. Getty Images/De Agostini/G. Dagli Orti

Troy was a city that is thought to have been located on the mound of Hissarlik on the Aegean coast of what would be present day Turkey. Troy was a prosperous trading center in the third millennium B.C., and is famous for being the setting of the Trojan War, as described in Homer’s epic poem the Iliad. It was founded around the year 3000 BC and lasted until its abandonment around 500 AD.

The Trojan War

The Trojan War was a war that was waged against Troy by Greek forces, known as Achaeans.

The war occurred over Helen of Troy, who had been kidnapped by Paris, the Prince of Troy. Agamemnon led the Achaeans to Troy to win back Helen for his brother Menelaus. Menelaus was Helen’s husband, and the king of Sparta. Agamemnon was a proud and autocratic leader. Early in the war, he antagonized Achilles, his best warrior, which initially caused Achilles to not participate in the battle. However, Achilles was eventually motivated by revenge to join in on the battle after his good friend Patroclus was killed by Hector, who was considered to be the greatest warrior of the Trojans. An enraged Achilles got his revenge however. He killed Hector directly outside of the gates of Troy. After killing Hector, he dishonored the body of his enemy by dragging it around tied to the back of a chariot for nine consecutive days, according to the Iliad. The historicity of the Trojan War and the Iliad are subject to debate.

Heritage

Troy was added to the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization’s World Heritage List in 1998. Locations on this list are considered to be of special historical, cultural, or physical significance, and are to be preserved. From the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization’s:

“The Archaeological Site of Troy has 4,000 years of history. Its extensive remains are the most significant and substantial evidence of the first contact between the civilizations of Anatolia and the burgeoning Mediterranean world. Excavations started more than a century ago have established a chronology that is fundamental to the understanding of this seminal period of the Old World and its cultural development. Moreover, the siege of Troy by Mycenaean warriors from Greece in the 13th century B.C., immortalized by Homer in The Iliad, has inspired great artists throughout the world ever since.

Troy is located on the mound of Hisarlık, which overlooks the plain along the Turkish Aegean coast, 4.8 km from the southern entrance to the Dardanelles. The famous archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann undertook the first excavations at the site in 1870, and those excavations could be considered the starting point of modern archaeology and its public recognition. Research and excavations conducted in the Troia and Troas region reveal that the region has been inhabited for 8,000 years. Throughout the centuries, Troy has acted as a cultural bridge between the Troas region and the Balkans, Anatolia, the Aegean and Black Sea regions through migration, occupation, trade and the transmission of knowledge.”