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The Trojan War: Is There Truth behind the Legend?

Author(s): Trevor R. Bryce

Source: Near Eastern Archaeology, Vol. 65, No. 3 (Sep., 2002), pp. 182-195
Published by: The American Schools of Oriental Research
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3210883 .
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ouldthisreallyhavebeenthe For here, we are to believe, was the
setting of the ten-yearconflict between
mightycitadel of Homeric
forthe experiencemay
visitorsto His-
THE Greeks and Trojansimmortalizedin the
epic taleof the TrojanWar,toldbya blind
poet called Homer who
lived on or close by
wellbe disappointed by Anatolia'swesternIonian
whattheysee. Roman-
coast.The poeticnarrative
thathe composed,andthat
we know as the Iliad,was
firstrecitedto audiencesat
the surrounding plains the verydawnof Greekliterature.To
mustbe set aside.Todaythe low-
the ancient Greek world it became
lyingmoundof Hisarlik,located what the Bible is to the Judaeo-
neartheDardanelles in northwest Christianworld.And fromthe timeof
its composition,some twenty-eight
Turkeyandreputedlythe site of
centuriesago,it hasservedas a major
its surrounds.
The citadelcovers
IS THERE source of inspirationfor successive
generations of artists, poets and
an areanot muchlargerthan a playwrights.Amongst the ancient
in diameter)andpresentsto the
TRUTH Greeks themselves, episodes from
Homer'saccountof the warprovided
modemtraveler a confusion ofbro- themesfor Greektragedy,forpoetry,
kenpavements, building BEHIND for narrativetales, for paintingand
sculpture. The tradition
foundations, andsuper- was kept alive by the
fragments ofwalls.Today THE LEGEND? Romansin their own art
andliterature.It was,most
Hisarlk's mostdominant notably,the startingpoint
featureis an enormouswoodenhorse, for Virgil'sgreat literary masterpiece the Aeneid,
TrevorR. Br~ce written at the behest of the
of recentconstruction, thesite's emperor Augustus.
arguably Even todaythe traditionconstantlysurfaces.
mostphotogenicfeature,andintendedto assureus Manyof us learntas childrenthe storiesof HelenandParis,of
all that thiswasindeedthe fabledTroy,cityof King the greatheroesOdysseus,Achilles,andHektor,andaboveall
Priam,whichharbored the SpartanqueenHelenand of theTrojanhorse.Thislastin particular hascapturedpopular
finallysuccumbed to the besieging Greek forces
assem- in
imagination, contexts ranging from film epicsandtelevision
bledunderthe leadership of the mightyAgamemnon. documentariesto corny jokes (likethe story of the Greeksoldier
whofell ill whileentombed
in the creature'sbellyand
askedhis comradesif there
wasa doctorin the horse),'
to code-namesforprisoner-
of-war escape plans and

Muchof our fascination
with the tradition arises
froma set of questionsthat
Homerfirstrecitedhis tale
of Troy.Didthe TrojanWar
Thefabledcityof KingPriamtoday
Aerialviewof the moundat Hisarlik. Today'sversionof the TrojanHorse, really happen? Was a
fromthe surrounding
is barelydistinguishable plain. located next to the site at Hisarlik. woman the cause of it?

65:3 (2002)
A nineteenthcentury faithin the fundamentalhistoricalreliabilityof the tradition,
engravinginspiredby Virgil's to the point where the Iliad is used almost like a history
accountof the fallof Troy. textbookor archaeological manualforreconstructing boththe
historyof the periodand the materialsetting in which the
flees the burningcitywithhis eventsnarratedbyHomertookplace.The viewenunciatedby
fatherAnchiseson hisback.
CarlBlegen(1963:20), who excavatedat Hisarlikfrom1932
to 1938, still attracts much support:"It can no longer be
Werethereotherreasons doubted,whenone surveysthe state of ourknowledgetoday,
for the conflict? Was that therereallywasan actualhistoricalTrojanWar,in which
therea long siege before a coalitionof Achaians,or Mycenaeans," undera kingwhose
Troyfell?Wastherereally overlordship wasrecognized,foughtagainstthe peopleof Troy
a Trojanhorse?Ancient and their allies." On the other hand, Hiller (1991: 145)
Greekwriterspondered remindsus that"Ourfaithin a historicalTrojanwaris founded
upon such questions aboveall on Homer,but Homeris not a historian.Firstof all
almost as much as he is a poet; what he relates is not history but myth."A
scholars have done in commonlyheld middleview is that Homerictraditionalmost
more recent times. certainlydevelopedout of a kernelof historicaltruth,though
Amongst the ancient muchof the detail of the traditionmust be creditedto the
Greeks themselves only the most hardened skeptics doubted lively and fertileimaginationof a greatpoet whoseprimary
that a TrojanWar as describedby Homer actually took place. concernwasto tell a goodstory.
But some of the believerswere far fromconvinced that Homer Of coursethereis muchin the storythatmustcomedirectly
had provided a true and accurate record of the war or the fromthe poet'sownimagination, or thatincorporatesstandard
events leading up to it. Notable amongst these was the fifth featuresof a narrativetraditionextendingbackwell before
century Greek historianHerodotos. Followinga version of the Homer.The elementof divineinteractionwith humanity,in
story told him by Egyptian priests, Herodotos (Histories 2. this case with the gods lining up in supportof either the
112-18) claimed that the ship in which Parisand Helen had Greeksor the Trojans,makesits firstappearancesin the epic
fled fromGreece was blown by violent winds onto the coast of genre,andnarrativetraditionin generalin the NearEastern
Egypt. Here the Egyptianking Proteus detained Helen, until world, long before the genesis of Homeric epic. The
such time as her husband Menelaus could fetch her home. supernatural providedan essentialdimensionto storiestoldon
Thus the Trojan War was due to nothing more than a a grandscale.Byleavingit out, a story-tellerwouldhave left
misunderstanding.Farfrom heroically defending the woman his audience sorely disappointed.So too a numberof the
who had fled with their prince, the Trojanswhen challengedby ritualsthat Homerpreservesin both the Iliadand its sequel
the Greeksto hand Helen back declared,quite truthfully,that the Odyssey,like that in whichOdysseussummonedup the
they could not do so-simply becauseshe was not nor ever had spiritsof the dead,wereclearlyimportedfromothercultural
been in Troy!This, Herodotosbelieved, was the true versionof contexts.Evensomeof the humanfiguresin the storiescould
the tale, as Homer himself well knew. But it lacked dramatic conceivably have been based on historical prototypes-
potential. By using it, Homer would have deprivedhis story of thoughthe fleshingout of theircharactersandsituationswas
its grandunderlyingromanticmotive. And so he rejectedit. of the poet'sown devising.To the narrator'simaginationwe
Yetfew ancient commentatorsdoubted that Helen reallydid can attributethe craftinessof Odysseus,the petulanceand
exist, and that her abduction by the Trojanprince Pariswas wrathof Achilles,the fiercebelligerenceof Sarpedon,andthe
the fundamentalcause of the war between the Greeksand the poignancyof the noble Hektor's last farewell to his wife
Trojans.Modern commentators are generally more skeptical. Andromacheandbabyson Astyanax.
Some are prepared to allow the possibility of a historical But afterfilteringout all the elementsattributableto the
Helen; but surelyit took more than just a prettyface to launch artist'screativity,to a standardrepertoireof narrativeformulae,
a thousandships and sparkoff a ten-yearconflict! Farfromthe or to culturalborrowingsfromother places and other times, are
abductionof a beautifulGreek queen providingthe casusbelli, we then left with a core traditionbasedon historicalfact?What
the war must have been fought over something much more is the actual essence of this tradition?In its barestform,it is an
practical and sensible, like disputed fishing rights in the account of a protractedconflict between Greeksand Trojans,in
Hellespont. But in fact our evidence shows that a BronzeAge the period we call the Late Bronze Age, which ended in the
king could-and indeed sometimesdid-go to war in response destruction and abandonment of a city called Troy in
to the abduction from his kingdom of any of his subjects, let northwesternAnatolia. Do we have hard evidence for such a
alone membersof his own family. conflict?In attemptingto answerthis question,we must be sure
At all events, scholarlyopinion is still much divided on the that any evidence we do produceis entirelyindependentof the
questionof how much historicaltruth is embeddedin Homeric Homeric epic itself-for we cannot use Homer to prove that
tradition. On the one hand, there are those who have a deep Homer'saccount of the TrojanWaris basedon fact.

65:3 (2002) 183
The TrojanHorse in particularhas captured
the popular imaginationfrom antiquity until
today. On this fresco from Pompeii (first
century CE),the horse is shown before the
walls of Troy.Museo Archeologico
Nazionale, Naples. Photo ? ErichLessing,
courtesyof ArtResource.

a PhysicalSetting
Ourfirsttaskis to establishwhetherwe
havea clearlyidentifiable physicalsetting
for the conflict. That possibility was
dismissed by many skeptics in the
the Iliadas purelyliteraryfantasy.Even
thosewhoremainedopen-mindedon the
question could not agree on a precise
location for the war. To be sure, the
ClassicalGreeksandRomanswerein no
doubtthat the abandonedsettlementat
Hisarlikwas the site of HomericTroy.
CalledIlionby the Greeksof latertimes,
andNew Iliumbythe Romans,it received
homage from a number of famous
persons-like the Persianking Xerxes,
whosacrificed a thousandoxenon the site
in preparationfor his invasion of the
Greekmainland,and the Macedonian
king Alexander the Great who after
landing his forces at Troymarkedthe
beginningof his invasionof the Persian
Empireby dedicating his armorto the
goddess TrojanAthena and placing a
wreathuponAchilles'tombin the Trojan
plain.Indeedthe regionin whichTroylay
wascalledthe TroadbyGreekandRoman
writersin the beliefthatit hadonce been
subjectto Troy'scontrol.ButBronzeAge
Troypredatedbysomecenturiesthe later
firstmillenniumsettlement at Hisarlik
(TroyVIII, founded in the mid eighth
century),andtherecouldbe no certainty
thatthe ClassicalGreeks'identification of it withthe siteof the on the site is Homer'sTroy,the Troyof the TrojanWar.There
TrojanWarwascorrect.IndeedHeinrichSchliemannhimself, areninemajoroccupationlevelson the mound,eachof which
the personwhose nameis most closely associatedwith the is dividedintoa numberof sub-levels.Thisexplainsthe jumble
Hisarhk-Troy identification, apparentlyfavoredotherlocations of wallsand levelsconfrontingthosewho visit the site today.
beforefixing upon Hisarlikat the promptingof the British Whattheymaynot realizeis thatthe moundthatresultedfrom
expatriateFrankCalvertwhohadboughtpartof thesite. the numerousoccupationlayersdid once riseloftilyover the
Even today a numberof scholars remainskeptical. But surrounding plains.Inhiseagernessto findthe "Homeric"level,
thoughwe cannotruleout otherpossiblecandidatesforTroy, whichhe believedwasone of the site'searliest,Schliemannhad
no alternative has been seriouslyproposed,consistently hisworkmencut an enormoustrenchthroughthe mound,and
maintained,or at leastgenerallyaccepted,since Schliemann destroyedsubstantialportionsof the site'slaterlevels.Much
beganexcavationsat Hisarlikin 1871.Yetif the identification has alreadybeen writtenaboutSchliemann'sarchaeological
is correct,that still leavesthe questionof whichof the Troys methods,discoveries,and conclusions.Sufficeit here to say

65:3 (2002)
humblerdwellingson the citadel at this
time does not fit well with the imposing
image of Troyin Homeric description.
There is now general agreement with
Ddrpfeld's identification of VIhas the city
of Priam-if Hisarlikdoes in fact mark
the site of Troyand there was in fact a
TrojanWar.Althoughmuchof whatwas
left of the sixthsettlementwasdestroyed
in the courseof Schliemann's excavations,
enough of it survives to indicate that it
represents the most flourishingphaseof
Troy's existence, extendingovera period
of several hundredyears in the second
millennium. The remainsof the great
northeastbastionfromthis level calls to
mindHomer'simposingwatchtower. The
distinctiveslopein TroyVI'swallslends
credibilityto the account in the Iliadof
Patroklos' attempts to scale the
fortifications simplybyrunningupthem.
Butwe mustagainstressthatthe Iliadis
neither archaeological manual nor
tourist's guide-book. Indeed detailed
correspondencesbetween the Homeric
descriptionof Troyand the site's actual
remains are very slight. Other
contemporary sitesmightbe shownto be
no less consistentwith this description.
Nonetheless,the locationof Hisarlik,the
topography of its surrounds, and the
natureof the last phaseof its sixth level
are sufficient to provide us with a
historically plausible setting for the
conflict describedby Homer.But this in
itself is not evidencethatsuch a conflict
actually took place. We need to look
Potteryfoundon the site indicatesthat
Troy VIh came to an end some time
duringthe firstseventyyearsor so of the
middleof the century.Since TroyVIh is
thatthe levelhe identifiedas thatof theTrojanWar,designated the mostlikelycandidateforHomer'sTroy,thenwe shouldset
as levelII,belongedto the EarlyBronzeAge-a thousandyears our sightson a date around1250 for a possibleTrojanWar.
too earlyforanyconceivabledateforHomer'sTrojanWar.This This would accord very closely with the date given by
in fact was what Schliemann'sassociateWilhelmD6rpfeld Herodotos(Histories2.145), who wrotein the middleof the
concluded.He proposedTroyVI,sublevelh, as the mostlikely fifth centuryand informsus that the TrojanWartook place
candidate.It wasa conclusionthatSchliemann himselfcameto someeighthundredyearsbeforehis time.'Giventhat Homer
accept long beforehis death. livedin the late eighthor earlyseventhcentury,then he must
Subsequently Professor Carl Blegen argued that Homer's have composedthe Iliadhalfa millenniumor moreafterthe
Troy was the firstphase of the seventhmajor level at Troy- eventson whichit is allegedlybased.The interveningperiod
TroyVlla. But we now know from ceramic evidence that this spans the last decades of the Late Bronze Age and the
wastoo late to be associatedwitha majorGreekassaultin the succeedingperiodof severalhundredyearscommonly(though
LateBronzeAge. In anycase, the encroachmentof smaller, increasinglyless appropriately)referredto as the DarkAge.

65:3 (2002) 185



' 4 0to ,
Ill 'd


aftb HeinrichSchliemann ca. 1870,around

the timeof hisfirstseasonat Hisarlik.
--- L m

Planof Troy'snineexcavated levels, showingthe jumbleof remainsthat date from2900 BCEto 500 CE.

EarlyBronzeAge stratifiedlevels at Troy. Thetrenchcut by Schliemann's

workmenthroughthe moundof Hisarlik.

tomb in Athens,
depicting himself
and his wife
Sophia at Troy.

65:3 (2002)
Howconfident canwebethat metal,as it wasin the
Homericepic providesus BronzeAge; in other
withan authenticrepository passagesit appearsto
of material havebeenin common
least five hundred years use, as it was in
beforethe poet'sown time Homer's own time.
and could have been The muster-roll of
preservedonly by wordof Greek ships in the
mouth through at least Iliadpreservesin its
twentygenerations? list of place names
some vestiges of a
TheProcessofOral BronzeAge past.But
Transmission most of the place
By its very nature, oral names belong to a
transmissionis a dynamic laterperiodandreflect
process.While the actual more accurately a
essenceof a traditionthatis pictureof the Greek
passed on in this manner world as it was in
may be faithfully preserved, The distinctivesloping walls of Troy VIlends to
credibility the account in the Iliad Homer'sownday.
muchelse maybe changed, of Patroklos'attempts to scale the fortificationssimplyby runningup them. All this we must
added to, or updated by attribute to the
each succeeding generation. So we must ask what can be dynamicprocessof oraltransmission,.a processthatextended
foundin Homer'sepicsthatdoesin factdatebackto the time over a periodof five or morecenturies.What bearingdoes
whenthe traditionsthathe recordedbegan.Towhatextentdo this haveon the questionof the historicalauthenticityof the
his poems,both the Iliadand the Odyssey,representthe end- TrojanWartradition?A commonlyheld view is that in spite
productof a body of folklore and tradition that had been of the manyhistoricalinconsistenciesand anachronisms that
evolving over many centuries? arose in the handing down of the tale, the basis of the Iliad
Undoubtedlysome authentic,archaeologically-validated wasindeeda conflictbetweenMycenaeanGreeksandTrojans
relics of a Mycenaean past do survive in the epics. A in northwestAnatolia towardsthe end of the Late Bronze
noteworthy example is the Iliad'sdescription of a helmet made Age. Episodesfromthe conflict, along with the exploits of
from slivers of boars' tusks fitted onto a felt cap. This individualcombatants,werepreservedinitiallyin balladsand
descriptioncorresponds closely with a Mycenaean ivory relief lays sung at the courtsof Mycenaeankingsand noblemen.
of a warrior'shead encased in a helmet featuringlayersof These wereorallytransmittedthroughthe succeedingDark
sliveredboars'tusks,as wellas withthe actualremainsof such Age until, probablyin the late eighth century, they were
a helmet now displayed in the National Archaeological woven into an extended narrative poem, with coherent
Museumin Athens. Protective headgearof this kind was structure,theme, and characterization.And this we owe to
totallyunknownin Homer'sown time, or indeed for many the geniusof a blindpoetcalledHomer.
centuriesbeforehis time. In an architecturalcontext, the But how surecan we be that this geniuswasinspiredby a
layout and adornment of Late Bronze Age palaces at sites like specificeventthatactuallytookplace?The waris set in a Late
Pylos and Mycenae bring to mind the sight that greeted Bronze Age Anatoliancontext,andit is to thiscontextthatwe
Odysseus as he crossed the brazen threshold of King Alkinous' must direct our searchforan answerto ourquestion.
palace. The is
palace'sdazzlingopulence graphically described
byHomerin BookVIIof hisOdyssey. TroyinitsAnatolian Context
But while some features of the Mycenaeanworld were WehavenotedthatHisarlikis the mostlikelycandidatefor
preservedin oral traditionwith little or no change in the the citadelof Troy,andthatthe citadelbesiegedby the Greeks
centuriesbeforeHomer,othersdisappeared altogether, or were in Homerictraditioncan mostplausibly be identifiedwithlevel
alteredalmostbeyondrecognition through constant modification VI, more precisely VIh, on the mound. This levelrepresents the
and updating.This led to numerousinconsistencies and mostimpressive of
phase Troy's existence; and the period its
anachronisms. Thustheintenselybureaucratic palace societies of destruction during the thirteenth century fallswithin the range
Mycenaean Greece as revealed by the Linear B tablets have no of datesproposed for the Trojan War in Classical Greek sources.
place in the apparentlyilliterateand largelylaissez-faire kingdoms We would greatlystrengthen the case for identifyingVIh
ruled by Homer'sroyalwarlords.The primitivebarn-like with Homer'sTroyif we coulddemonstratethatthis levelfell
structurethatin the Odyssey servedas the palaceof Odysseusis victimto enemyattack,in accordancewithHomerictradition.
clearly of a later
different, era thanAlkinous'royalresidence.In Thereis no doubtthatit sufferedviolentdestruction.Butwe
somepassagesin Homer,ironis treatedas a rareandprecious haveno clearindicationas to whetherthiswasdue to human

65:3 (2002) 187
or to environmentalforces. Blegen believed that VIh was represent peak periods in the settlement's existence.
destroyed byearthquake, referringto cracksin thetowerandwall Undoubtedlyits commerciallyvaluablestrategiclocationon
of the citadelandevidenceof floorsubsidence.Thisprompted whatlaterGreekscalledthe Hellespont(modernDardanelles)
himto arguethatTroyVIIa,theimmediate successor of VIh,was wasto a verylargeextentresponsible the result
forits prosperity,
the morelikelycandidateforHomer'sTroy.VIIatoo suffered of the widespread tradinglinksthatit enjoyed.Accessto fishing
violentdestruction.Butagainthe causeof its destructionis far groundswith abundantsuppliesof tuna and other marine
fromclear,and as we have noted, currentdatingof this level animalshas alsobeensuggestedas a contributingfactorto its
makesit too late to be a candidateforHomericTroy.Further, prosperity. Fieldsurveysindicatethatit layamida largeexpanse
whilethe cracksandsubsidence observed byBlegenin VIhmight of richarablesoil,capableof sustaining a substantial
wellhavebeendueto seismicactivity, we cannotbe surewhether Wheredidthe populationlive?The citadelitselfcouldhave
thishappenedin the lastphaseof TroyVI or the firstphaseof accommodated no morethana fewhundredpeopleat most,in
TroyVII,or on a scalelargeenoughto causethe destructionof its flourishingperiods,andwe mustassumethat the spacious
the wholesite (thusEaston1985:190-91).A compromise has habitations on the citadel duringthese periods were the
beenproposed,whichallowsfordestructionof the sitebyboth exclusivepreserveof an elite class.The bulkof the population
humanand environmentalforces.The proposalis that the musthavelivedoutside.Thisassumptionhasbeenput to the
citadel'sfortifications weakenedbyearthquake to test,andverified.Excavations conductedon the sitesince1988
the pointwheretheybecamevulnerableto enemyconquest;it havebroughtto lighta substantial settlementlyingadjacentto
was a combinationof both factors that broughtabout the the citadeland extendingto the south, the so-called"lower
citadel'sdestruction(e.g.,Easton1985:189). city."Thishasled to a tenfoldincreasein the areaknownto be
This proposalhas also been used to explain the wooden coveredby the site, from20,000 to 200,000 squaremeters,
horse'sintroductioninto the TrojanWartradition.The horse duringthe periodof levels VI andVII (ca. 1700-1100 BCE).
wasa well-knownsymbolof the sea-godPoseidon.Frequently Giventhe size and food-producingcapacityof the regionin
dubbed"theEarthshaker," Poseidon(thetheorygoes)inflicted whichit lay,Troycouldhavesupporteda populationof around
a devastatingearthquakeupon the citadel, demolishingits six thousandpeople.Wecan thusreviseourunderstanding of
wallsto the pointwhereit fell easypreyto its besiegers.It was the famous site-from little more than a small citadel
thusPoseidon'sinterventionthat providedthe inspirationfor accommodatinga population of a few hundred to a quite
the motif of the Trojanhorse. Rather more prosaically,a substantialandprobably walledcity.4Its dominantfeaturewas
numberof ancientwriterssawthe Trojanhorseas a reflection its fortifiedacropolis,firstexcavatedby Schliemann,wherefor
of a batteringram,or someother kindof siege engine (e.g., muchof the BronzeAge an eliterulingclassresided.
Pliny,Nat.Hist.VII202,Pausanias 1.23.8). To what extent do the new excavations enhance our
Ingeniousas suchspeculations are,theyreallyaddnothingof understanding of Troy'sroleandimportancewithinthe world
substanceto ourinvestigation. Infactthe Trojanhorseepisode, of LateBronzeAge Anatolia,andthe NearEastin general?As
thoughundoubtedly a veryearlyelementin thetradition, receives we now knowit, Troywas comparablein size to the city of
onlya coupleofscantmentionsinHomer. Thehorse'sprominence Ugarit,capitalof the prosperous kingdomof the samenameon
in thetraditionin morerecenttimesis duein largemeasure to the the Levantinecoast.MeecommentsthatlikeUgarit,Troywas
treatmentthatVirgilaccordedit in BookIIof hisAeneid,some evidentlya majorcenter and entrep6t(Mee 1998: 144-45).
seven centuries after the Homeric epics were composed. But Ugaritmust have playeda much more significantrole
Henceforthit hasservedas an almostarchetypal symbolof the withinthe complexof Near Easternkingdoms,politicallyas
TrojanWar,in a mannerout of allproportion to its placein the well as commercially,given its position on the coast in the
originaltradition.Undoubtedlyit wasone of the mostpotent regionthat lay withinthe overlappingspheresof interestof
imagesofTroyat thetimeSchliemann firstdugintothemoundat fourof the GreatKingdoms of the LateBronzeAge-Mitanni,
Hisarlik.Butmoregenerally, theHomericassociations attachedto Hatti, Egypt,and more indirectly Assyria.Apart from its
Hisarliksince Schliemann'sexcavationshave ensuredthat it abundantwealth in natural resources, Ugarit's valuable
continues to feature as one of the best known and most widely strategic location gave it far greater importance in the Near
visited of all ancient sites. To what extent does this attention Easternworldthan the remote kingdomof Troy,situated as the
reflectits actualimportancein its contemporary context? latter was on the very peripheryof this world. Even so, ceramic
The discovery and excavation of many Bronze Age sites evidence from various sites indicates that Troy had a wide
throughout Anatolia in the decades following Schliemann's range of trading contacts with Near Eastern coastal areas,
excavations, and the ongoing excavations on and around the though as we might expect, the preponderance of its
mound of Hisarhlikitself, have contributed much to our commercialcontacts were with the Mycenaeanworld.
understanding of Troy's role and importance within its
contemporarycontext. There can be no doubt that for much of WasTrojan
its existence through almost two millennia of Bronze Age The most markeddifferencebetween Troyand Ugaritis that
history, covering levels I to VII, it was a prosperous and the latter has left us a substantial legacy of written records.
sometimes flourishingsettlement. The second and sixth levels The extensive archives of the Levantine kingdom provide us

65:3 (2002)
withsomeof ourmostimportantsourcesof information on the
history of the Syro-Palestinianregion during the last two
centuriesof the LateBronzeAge. BycontrastTroyhas to this
point left us, fromits entiresecondmillenniumhistory,just
one small, isolated piece of written material, and the
provenanceeven of thisitemis not altogethercertain.Thatis
by no meansan indicationthat writingwas unknown,or as
good as unknown,in the city. On the contrary,Troylike all
otherNearEasternkingdomsof its sizeandstatusmusthave
had a chancelleryservedby scribeseither of local originor
importedfromelsewhere.Writingmaterialsare of a highly Drawingof a Luwianseal found in a house in stratumVllb.The fact
perishablenature,and when clay tablet archivesdo survive that the seal owner was a scribe providesour first tangible indication
fromotherregionsof the ancientworld,this is often (though of possible scribalactivityin the city duringthe second millenniumas
not always)dueto the goodfortuneof the archiveroomsbeing well as our firsttangible clue as to the ethnic identityof the inhabits
destroyedin an intenseconflagration.Whilereducingmuch of Troy.FromHawkinsand Easton(1996: figs. 1 and 2).
else to ash, a heartyfirebakesor re-bakesanythingmadeof
clay,includingtablets,and thus preservesthemfor all time. In western and southernAnatolia, a third groupof Indo-
However there must have been many ancient cities with Europeanpeoplessettled.Wecall them the Luwians.By the
literate memberswho have left little or no trace of their beginningof the LateBronzeAge, Luwian-speaking groups
existence.Troyis almostcertainlya casein point. hadoccupiedextensiveareasin the westernhalfof Anatolia.
The one itemdiscovered herewithwritingon it cameto lightCollectivelythese areasconstitutedthe regionreferredto in
during the course of excavations in 1995.It is a biconvexbronze
early Hittite records as Luwiya, an ethno-geographical
sealbearinga briefinscriptionin Luwianhieroglyphs.5 It was
designation covering a large part of western Anatolia.
foundin the contextof TroyVIIb,andthusdatesto the second However,the nameLuwiyaseemssoonto havedroppedout of
halfof the twelfthcentury.This makesit one of the verylast use, at least in Hittite texts, and was replacedby the name
inscriptions of the AnatolianBronzeAge, andit post-datesthe Arzawa,a generaltermusedto covera complexof territories
lastknownHittiteinscription byseveraldecades.Wecannotbe collectivelyknownas the ArzawaLands.In its broadestsense
altogether certain whether the sealactuallyoriginated in Troyor
Arzawa probably extended over much of the territory
wasimportedthere,thoughthe formerseemsmorelikely,on the previouslycalledLuwiya,andincorporated manyof the same
groundsthat we have the actualoriginalseal andnot just an populationgroups. Given the wide of
spread Luwian-speaking
impressionof it. One sideof the sealgivesthe nameof a man, peoplesin westernAnatolia,it is a distinctpossibilitythat the
andhis professionas scribe,the othersidegivesthe nameof a population of the sixth and seventh levels of Troy was
woman.Bothnamesareincomplete.The likelihoodis thatthe predominantly a groupof Luwianorigin.Indeedit maywellbe
pairarehusbandandwife. that earlierlevelsof the city alsohad a Luwianpopulation,or
If the seal did in fact originatein Troy,then the Luwian at leastLuwian-speakers amongstits population.
inscriptionon it hassomeinterestingimplications.In the first CouldLuwiangroupshavespreadeven furtherafield?It has
placethe fact that the seal-ownerwasa scribe,as well as the been suggested that at the time of Luwiansettlement in
factof the sealitself,wouldprovideourfirsttangibleindication westernAnatolia, some groupswent furtherwest, entering
of possible scribal activity in the city during the second mainlandandislandGreecevia Thraceor the AegeanSea-a
millennium-thoughin thiscasenearthe millennium's migrationthatmarkedthe arrival,aroundthe end of the third
thuscastingdoubton anynotionthatTrojansocietyremained millennium,of "proto-Greeks" in the landthat the Classical
illiterate throughoutthis period.And the languageof the GreekscalledHellas (see e.g., Macqueen1986:33). This in
inscriptionwouldprovideus withourfirsttangibleindication turnhas led somescholarsto believe that therewereethnic
of the ethnic groupinhabitingTroyat this time. links between the Indo-European-speaking populationsof
westernAnatolia and contemporaryHelladic Greece. But
TheLuwian Inhabitants of WesternAnatolia intriguingthoughthe possibilityis that Homer'sGreeksand
The Luwians were one of three groups of Indo-European- Trojanswere closelyrelated,they can at best have been no
speakingpeopleswho enteredAnatoliaprobablysome timeduring morethan verydistantcousins.The fact that the Trojansin
the course of the thirdmillennium.Partsof central and eastern HomerspokeGreekis of coursepurelyan epic convention;
Anatolia were occupied by speakersof a languagecalled Nesite and by the same token we should not attribute too much
(now more commonly known as Hittite), which subsequently significance to the fact that a number of Greek social
became the official language of the Late Bronze Age Hittite institutions alsooccurin a Trojancontext (seeWatkins1986:
kingdomwhosehomelandlayin centralAnatolia.A secondIndo- 50-51). Nonetheless, the fairlywidely held view that the
Europeangroup,the Palaians,werelocatedto the northwestof the Trojansof the sixthandseventhsettlementswere,or included,
Hittite homeland,within the regionlaterknownas Paphlagonia. a Luwian-speaking populationof Indo-European origin,gains

65:3 (2002)
some further support from the recently discovered seal tradition, Troyand(W)iliosweretwonamesforthe sameplace.
This leadsus to the next
inscribedwith Luwianhieroglyphs.6 Wilioswasan earlyformof the nameIliosbeforethe initialw,
stageof ourinvestigation. representingthe archaicGreekdigamma,wasdropped.The
similarity of bothpairsof namesseemedtoo closeto be merely
DoesTroyAppearin HittiteTexts? coincidental.And the fact that in the Hittite list the names
As yet we havealmostno writtenrecordsfromthe western appeared lastwouldbe consistentwitha northwestern location
Luwiansthemselves.Howeverwe have manyreferencesto for them if, as seems likely, the list proceeded in a rough
them,moreparticularly to the kingdomsthat theyformed,in geographical progression fromsouthto north.
the archives of the Great Kingdom that became their One slightproblemwith Forrer's conclusionwasthatwhile
overlord-the kingdomof Hatti,the landof the Hittites.The in Homerictradition(W)iliosandTroiawereinterchangeable
Luwian-speakingArzawanstates were the most important names, in the Hittite text Wilusiyaand Taruisaappearas
vassalpossessionsof the Hittites in westernAnatoliafor at countriessideby side.Is it possiblethat the namesdid in fact
leastthe lasthalfof the LateBronzeAge.Sinceit is nowclear referoriginally to twoseparatecountries,butthatsubsequently
that, materiallyat least,Troywasa not insignificantwestern one countryabsorbedthe other?Alternatively,whatwe have
kingdom, comparable with cities like Ugarit, since it is in Homeric tradition may represent a conflation of two
increasingly likelythatits population wasof Luwianorigin,and countriesthatwereproximately locatedandcloselyassociated
since there are extensive referencesin Hittite texts to the in a conflictwithGreekinvadersin the northwestern regionof
westernAnatoliankingdoms,particularly thosewith Luwian Anatolialatercalledthe Troad.The firstpossibilitymaygain
populations,the probabilityis veryhigh that Troyfiguresin some supportfromthe fact that the nameTaruisamakesno
Hittitehistoricalrecords.If so, theserecordsmustgive us the furtherappearancein the Hittite texts, with one possible
onlygenuinehistoricalinformationwe haveso faraboutthe exception.Wilusiyaon the otherhand,appearsseveralmore
kingdomof Troy.The searchforTroyin Hittitetextsthustakes times,in its shorterformWilusa,andit maybe thatits territory
on veryconsiderable significance. wasexpandedto includethe formerlandof Taruisa,withboth
It wasfirstundertaken overeightyyearsago,notlongafterthe namesbeingpreserved in laterClassicalGreektradition.
Hittite languagehadbeen deciphered,by a Swissphilologist The one furtherpossiblereferenceto Taruisa appearsnot in a
called EmilForrer.ForrercarefullycombedthroughHittite Hittitetextbuton a silverbowlof unknownorigin,andnowin
sourcesforpossiblereferencesto Troy,andwhiledoingso he the Museumof AnatolianCivilizationsin Ankara.The bowl
cameacrossa list of countriesin westernAnatoliathat had bearstwoLuwian hieroglyphic inscriptions,oneof whichrefersto
rebelledagainsta HittitekingcalledTudhaliya, around1400BCE. the conquestof a placecalledTarwiza bya kingTudhaliya (see
The list, comprisingtwenty-twocountries,whichapparently Hawkins1997).Althoughno furtherdetailsaregiven,it is very
formeda confederacy,'ended with the namesWilusiyaand temptingto link this inscriptionwith the rebellionagainst
Taruisa. These,Forrerbelieved,werethe Hittitewayof writing Tudhaliya thatwe havereferred if the link
to above.Incidentally,
the GreeknamesTroia(Troy)and (W)ilios(Ilios).In Homeric is correct,the inscription wouldthenbe byfarthe earliestof all
knownLuwianhieroglyphic inscriptions,
fromthoseappearing on sealimpressions.'
BLACK SEA Forrer'sproposalto linkthe Hittitenames
Taruisa andWilus(iy)a withHomericTroymet
with a good deal of skepticism.Yethe had
madea primafaciecaseforthe identification
ftw, tic goun andotherpiecesofevidencehavesubsequently
>O0m KASKA providedadditionalif not conclusivesupport
Yasshkay. for his proposal.In the firstplace,Wilusais
Hattu w listedin one Hittitetextaspartof thecomplex
L te "- [
SEHA RIVER of Arzawalands.Wehave noted that these

Acemhayok d lands were inhabited largely, if not

predominantly, by Luwian-speaking peoples.
I1 I Wilus(iy)a is itselfa Luwianformation.' And
lyalanda TARHUNTA99A
ta *
urus Mountains + , Carchemish AHUR
the seal inscription recently found in the
seventh level of Troymayprovideour first
- sA IT--A
MITANNI hard(thoughstill veryslight)evidencethat
0 100 200 km
theinhabitants ofTroyspokeLuwian.
Yetif we are to show beyondreasonable
UIrit NU20km
o2; doubtthatTroy/Ilios andWilusaareone and
the same,we need to demonstratethat the
Anatolia in the Late Bronze Age. Wilusa of Hittite texts did in fact lie in

65:3 (2002)
northwesternAnatolia.The But this still falls far short
Late Bronze Age political of prooffor an actualTrojan
geography of western An-
atolia has long proved a
' ' The conclusion,firstenunciated War.Which bringsus to the
nextstageof oursearch.
very elusive and frustrating by EmilForrer, now seemsinescapable:
field of study.The countries
Troy has indeed been found in the DoGreeksAppearin
of western Anatolia in
particularhave been shifted texts of the Hittites. It was the royal This question Forreralso
aroundby various scholars
withbewildering But
rapidity. seat of the king of Wilusa, vassal of sought to answer. that if
new discoveries are con- hypothesized Troy
stantlyhelpingus to fill some
the Great King of the Hittites. I could be found in Hittite
texts, there ought also to be
longstanding gapsandresolve referencesto Greeksin these
some longstandingcontro- texts. In attemptingto track
versies. Wilusa is a case in down these references, he
point.Thoughscholarshadno doubtthatit laysomewherein beganby askingwhat the Greekscalled themselvesat this
westernAnatolia, they could not agreeon preciselywhere. time.He notedthat in the Iliadand
Fortunately,a text-joindiscoveredin the 1980shas put the used the term "Achaian"of the Greeks as a whole. (The
matterbeyond doubt. A text-join occurs when two long- ClassicalGreeksreferredto themselvesas
separated fragments of a tablet are finally matched up. word"Greek" is adaptedfrom"Graeci," the Romannamefor
Establishinglinksbetweenfragmentsof tabletis an ongoing the peoplesof the Greekworld.)On the assumptionthat the
task,requiringthe skillsof specialistepigraphersand made Homeric term had a genuine BronzeAge pedigree, Forrer
necessaryverylargelyby the haphazardway in whichmany searchedthroughthe Hittitetextsfora namethatmighthave
tabletswereunearthedandcollectedduringthe courseof the been the Hittite
equivalentto "Achaia."Given that Hittite
firstexcavationsin the Hittite capital a centuryago. More powerextended to Anatolia'swesterncoast, and that Late
thanonce, the discoveryof a text-joinhas provedas valuable, Bronze
Age or Mycenaean Greeks had extensive trading
in terms of the information that it has supplied, as the contactswith this coast, it wouldbe extremelysurprisingif
discoveryof an entirelynew text. Hittitetextscontainedno referencesat all to these Greeks-
Inthiscase,an additionalfragment wasfoundto a well-know quiteapartfromtheirappearance in Homerictradition.
letterwrittento the HittitekingMuwatalliIIby a mancalled Again Forrerclaimedsuccessin his search.He noted that
Manapa.Tarhunda, rulerof the Seha RiverLand,a kingdom the Hittite texts referreda numberof timesto a place called
belonging to the Arzawa complex. Fromother pieces of Ahhiyawa,or Ahhiyain a shorter,earlierform.In this he saw
inforation,we knowthatthisparticular kingdomextendedover the Hittite wayof representingthe Greekname Achaia.As
oneof the rivervalleyslyingnorthof the citycalledMiletosin mightbe expected,Forrer'sproposalprovokedconsiderable
Classicaltimes.Its HittitenamewasMilawata,or Millawanda. debate, some of it quite heated and personal.Its strongest
Theriverin questionwasalmostcertainlyeitherthe (Classical) criticwasthe GermanscholarFerdinandSommerwho in the
CaicosortheHermos,if notthefamousMaeander river(see,e.g., 1930sled the ranksof skepticswho dismissedthe Ahhiyawa-
Gurney1992:220-21).Fromthe text-joinwe learnthata Hittite Achaia equationas no morethan "kling-klangetymology."
expeditionary forceon itswayto Wilusahadto passthroughthe Since then the debatehas continued.Somescholarsargued
SehaRiverLandin orderto reachit. Giventhelikelyroutetaken thatAhhiyawawasno morethana localAnatoliankingdom,
byHittiteares in theirexpeditions to westernAnatolia,Wilusa othersthat it was an islandkingdomlyingoff the Anatolian
musttherefore havelainnorthof theSehaRiverLand-thatis to mainland,likeCyprusor Rhodes.Othersagaindeclaredthatit
sayin the regioncalledthe Troadin Classicaltimes.Welearn musthavebeena Mycenaeankingdomof mainlandGreece.
furtherthatclosebyWilusawasone of its dependencies, a place We cannot debate here all the pros and cons of the
calledLazpa.Therecan nowbe little doubtthat this wasthe Ahhiyawa-Achaiaidentification.That has been done many
islandthattheGreekscalledLesbos,asfirstproposed in the 1920s times in the past. Sufficeit to say that the greatmajorityof
by Emil Forrer,yingjustoffAnatolia'snorthwest coast. scholarsnow believethat Ahhiyawamustindeedreferto the
Wecan thussaywithconfidencethatWilusalayin the same worldof LateBronzeAge Greece,morepopularlyknownas
regionas Hisarlik,our most favoredcandidatefor Homer's the Mycenaeanworld.The identificationcannotbe regarded
Troy/Ilios.The conclusion,firstenunciatedbyEmilForrer, now as iron-clad,andsomeof its supporterscautionthat it is still
seemsinescapable:Troyhas indeedbeenfoundin the textsof no morethana matterof faith.Butthe circumstantial evidence
the Hittites.It wasthe royalseat of the kingof Wilusa,vassal in supportof it, includingdiscoveriesmadein recent years,
of the GreatKingof the Hittites. We thus have not only a mustnowbe consideredoverwhelming. In somecontextsthe
physicalsettingfor the greatcity of the Iliad,but also actual termAhhiyawais used to referto the Mycenaeanworldin
referencesto it in contemporary historicalrecords. general;in othercontexts,wherea particular kingof Ahhiyawa

65:3 (2002) 191
makeshis appearance, to a specifickingdomwithinthisworld. in-lawof a man calledAtpa, who governedMilawataas the
The identificationhas a numberof importantimplications. Ahhiyawanking'svassal.As we have noted, the letter was
One of theseis the additionaldimensionit givesto Mycenaean written by Hattusili III" to his Ahhiyawan counterpart.
studies.Scholarshad longbelievedthat Mycenaeanoverseas Unfortunately,the latter'snameis not preserved.It would
enterpriseswereconfinedessentiallyto tradingactivitiesalong have appearedat the beginningof the firstof the threetablets
the coastlandsof the Mediterranean, withoccasionalenclavesconstitutingthe letter.Onlythe thirdtabletsurvives.Butwe
of Mycenaeansettler-traders beingestablishedin theseregions,
knowfromthisthatone of the letter'smaintopicswasHittite
most notably on the western Anatolian coast. So we may concernoverthe activitiesof Piyamaradu, andthe supporthe
conclude from the material evidence, especially pottery. wasreceivingfromthe kingof Ahhiyawa.The letterrefersto
However,the Ahhiyawan-Mycenaean Wilusa.It hadbeen a causeof conflictbetweenHattusiliand
equationtakesus a step
beyondthis, forit providesus withwritteninformation-the the Ahhiyawanking, but the conflict had been peacefully
only such informationwe have-about the history of the resolved:"Nowas we have come to an agreementon Wilusa
Mycenaeanworld.We knowfromHittite texts that certain over which we went to war...." Even so, Hattusili was
MycenaeanGreekkings became politically and militarily concerned that Piyamaradumight try to provoke a fresh
involvedin westernAnatolianaffairs.IndeedHattusiliIII,who conflict, and he urgedhis Ahhiyawanbrotherto keep the
ruledthe Hittiteworldin the thirteenthcentury,wroteto one trouble-maker undercontrol;the Ahhiyawankingshouldtell
of thesekings,addressing himboth as "mybrother," a formofPiyamaradu: "Regarding the matterof Wilusaoverwhichwe,
addressreservedexclusivelyfor one's peers,and as a "Great the Kingof Hatti and I, had becomehostile,he (the Kingof
King,"a title otherwiseused only of the elite groupof Near Hatti)haswonme overandwe havemadefriends... it would
EasternGreatKings-the rulersof Babylon,Assyria,Egypt, not be rightforus to makewar."
and Hatti. Fromthe same letter, commonlyknown as the This is as far as we can go in our searchfor evidence of a
Tawagalawa Letter,'we learnthatits addresseewasoverlordof conflictinvolvingWilusaandAhhiyawa.If TroyandWilusa
the territoryof Milawataon the Anatoliancoast,andthatvery wereone andthe same,thenTroywasclearlya subjectstateof
likelyhe wasusingthis territoryas a baseforthe extensionof the Hittitesat the time,andanyaggression againstit waslikely
Ahhiyawan/Mycenaeaninfluence elsewhere in western to provoke military retaliation from Hatti. That is what
Anatolia. If so, then inevitablyhis enterpriseswouldhave Hattusiliimpliesin his letter.His referencesto Piyamaradu
threatenedHittite interests, and more specificallyHittite makeclearthathe sawthis localwarrioras an agent,perhaps
subjectterritories,in the region. the principal agent, used by the Ahhiyawan king for the
Does this bringus any closer to determiningwhetherthe extension of his authority in western Anatolia. Indeed
traditionof a TrojanWaris basedon fact? Piyamaradu mayalreadyhavebeen actingin this capacityon
the earlieroccasion when for a time he actuallyoccupied
Assessing the Historical Evidence for a TrojanWar Wilusa.
In broadterms,we have establisheda generalscenariofor We do not know how effective Hattusili's letter was in
possible conflict between MycenaeanGreeksand Hittite securingWilusa against enemy action. But we learn from
forces,or Hittite-backedforces,in westernAnatolia.Wenow another letter that in the reign of his son Tudhaliya(IV)
need to narrowourfocus.On the assumptionthat Wilusais Wilusawas againattacked.On this occasionits king,a man
the HittitenameforTroy/Ilios, do ourHittitesourcesprovide calledWalmu,wasforcedoff his throneand fled into exile.
evidence for a specific conflict involving Ahhiyawan/ Thisinformationis suppliedby a anothertext-join-to a very
Mycenaeanforcesagainstthe kingdomof Wilusa?It is clear fragmentarydocumentcommonlyknown as the Milawata
fromthese sourcesthat Wilusahad a fairlytroubledhistory, Letter,so-calledbecauseit refersto eventsthat had recently
in the thirteenthcentury,the periodin whichthe takenplacein andaroundMilawata.Unfortunately, even with
from But the
TrojanWarwasmostlikelyto havetakenplace.Welearnthat the join the letteris stillfar complete. surviving
in the century its was
territory attacked andoccupiedby portioncontains a passageabout Wilusa, andby fittingthe join
a notorious local freebooter called Piyamaradu. This againstthe originalfragment, we can deducethat Wilusa was
information is provided by the letter we have referred to once again restored to Hittite control, and that preparations
above, written by Manapa-Tarhunda,king of the Seha River were underwayfor putting its king back on his throne.
Land, to his Hittite overlord Muwatalli. On this occasion This episode is the last piece of information we have about
Piyamaraduwas apparently driven from Wilusa by a Hittite the northwesternkingdomof Wilusa. If Wilusa was in fact the
expeditionary force, but remained at large and continued to Late Bronze Age kingdom of Troy,then we can start building
threaten Hittite interestsin the region. up a pictureof Troy'shistoryin this period.Its inhabitantswere
No reference is made to Ahhiyawa in this context, but we almost certainly one of the Luwian-speaking peoples of
know from another letter, the so-called TawagalawaLetter, western Anatolia. It belonged to the ethno-political complex
that Piyamaraduwas a prot6g6 of the Ahhiyawan king (who of Arzawalands. For at least the last two centuries of the Late
afforded him protection in his own land when the Hittites BronzeAge, it was not an independentkingdombut one of the
began turningup the heat on him), and that he was the father- vassalstates of the Hittite Empire.It sufferedseveralattacksby


enemyforcesduringthe thirteenthcentury,attacksin whicha attemptingto come up with a specifichistoricalconflictthat
MycenaeanGreekkingmaywellhavebeenimplicated.During occupieda relativelylongperiodof time-ten yearsin Greek
one of theseattacks,the enemyinvadedandoccupiedits land. tradition.Farfromprovidingmaterialor writtenevidencefor
On anotheroccasionits kingwasdeposed.On bothoccasions sucha conflict,ourAnatoliansourcesin factcastconsiderable
the country was liberated by the Hittites. The so-called doubton its historicity,
at leastin the formin whichit appears
TawagalawaLetter,which associatesthe king of Ahhiyawa in Homer.Forexample,whilesiege-warfare certainlyfeatured
witha warinvolvingWilusa,datesto aroundthe middleof the in a numberof BronzeAge militaryoperations,andsometimes
thirteenthcentury.This is the mostwidelyaccepteddate for extendedover severalmonths, the notion of a siege lasting
the destructionof TroyVIh.Wedo not knowthe nameof the manyyearsis quite out of the question.And the claim that
letter'saddressee,whichmaywell have appearedin the first the Greek forces arrivedat Troyin a fleet of more than a
tabletof the letter,now lost to us. But there are those who thousandships (1,186 to be precise)wouldmakethe Greek
would like to see in this addressee, a Great King of the armadamanytimes greaterthan the largestknownfleet in
Ahhiyawanworld,the prototypeof Homer'sAgamemnon. any period of the ancient world. As far as there is any
Accordingto Homer,Agamemnonled a confederationof historicalbasisforHomerictradition,it is to be foundnot in a
Greeksinto waragainstthe Trojans.The essenceof this war singleconflictthat occupieda relativelylong periodof time,
wasa ten-yearsiegeof Troy,culminatingin the besiegedcity's but ratherin a seriesof conflictsthat took place over a very
conquest,destruction,and abandonment. These arethe core muchgreaterperiodof time. OurAnatolianwrittensources
eventsof the Homerictradition.Howclose arewe to proving provideno evidence for a single, major,extendedattackby
that they actually took place?Let us review the evidence invadingGreekson an Anatolian kingdomthat led to the
currentlyavailableto us. eventualdestructionof that kingdom.Ratherthe patternis
1. Wecan with a highdegreeof probability identifythe site one of a numberof limitedattackscarriedout over several
now known as Hisarlik in northwestern Turkeywith the centuries,andperhapsan occasionaltemporary occupationof
ancient citadel of Troy,madefamousby the epic poemsof a beleagueredkingdom.Any one of these attacksmighthave
Homer.LevelVIh of this site best fits Homer'sdescriptionof provided the original core of the Homeric tradition, a
Troy. This level was destroyed some time during the traditionthatwashundredsof yearsin the making.
thirteenth century, probably around the middle of the
century,withinthe periodto whichthe TrojanWaris dated ATradition
in ClassicalGreeksources. The genesis of the epic maygo back 150 years or more
2. Unfortunatelywe have no clear evidence to indicate beforethe generallyaccepteddateof the TrojanWar.Already
what caused Troy'sdestruction-human agency, natural in the latefifteenthorearlyfourteenthcenturywe learnfroma
forces, or a combination of both. Admittedly recent well-known Hittite text (the so-called "Indictment of
excavationsin the lowercity have producedsignsof military Madduwatta")of Ahhiyawan militaryenterprises on the
conflictin the formof arrow-heads andhumanskeletons.But Anatolianmainland,andsubsequently on the islandof Cyprus
as yet the quantityof such remainsis too smallto constitute (Alasiyain Hittitetexts).The leaderof theseenterpriseswas
evidencefor a sustainedconflictover a periodof manyyears "aman of Ahhiya"called Attarsiya.Could the TrojanWar
andinvolvinga largeinvadingforce. tradition have begun with a military conflict between
3. It is highlylikelythatTroyor Ilioswasthe kingdomcalled MycenaeanGreeksandAnatoliansin the earlyfourteenth,or
Wilusain Hittite texts. Wilusawas a vassalkingdomof the even the fifteenthcentury?ProfessorVermeulehasarguedthat
Hittiteempirelocatedin the farnorthwestof Anatolia,in the thereare linguisticas well as otherelementsin the Iliadthat
regionthatthe Greeksof latertimescalledthe Troad. could well date to this period.Froma studyof a numberof
4. Weknowthat MycenaeanGreeks,whoseland is called passages in the Iliad, she concludes that the deaths of
Ahhiyawain Hittite texts, becameinvolvedin the political "Homeric" heroeslikeHektorandPatroklos werealreadysung
and militaryaffairsof western Anatolia, fromat least the in the fifteenthor fourteenthcenturies."And the military
fifteenth century and particularly in the thirteenth century adventuresin Anatoliaof an earlyMycenaeanGreekwarrior
when the land of Milawataon the westernAnatolian coast was like Attarsiya are precisely the stuff out of which legend is
subjectto an Ahhiyawan/Mycenaeanking. created. Indeed it is just possible that Attarsiya (Attarissiya)
5. During this period Wilusa suffereda numberof attacks in was the Hittite way of writing the Greek name Atreus, a name
which MycenaeanGreeksmay have been directlyor indirectly borne in Greek traditionby one of the firstrulersof Mycenae.
involved. On one occasion, its territorywas occupied by the It was perhaps in the earliest days of Mycenaean contact
enemy; on another occasion its king was deposed and driven with western Anatolia that the traditionof a Greek-Anatolian
into exile. Homer tells us that the city of Troywas attacked, conflict began its journey. In the course of this journey, the
occupied, and destroyed by the Greeks, and its royal family tradition constantly acquired new elements, many of which
killed or driven into exile., may well have been based on actual historical episodes or
How far,then, does this informationtake us towardsproofof incidents. By the thirteenth century it had also acquired a
a TrojanWar?The answerhas to be not very far at all, if we are specific physical setting, a northwestern Anatolian kingdom

65:3 (2002) 193
that duringthe courseof the unfold.Fromthe vastbodyof
centurysuffereda numberof legendandfolklorethat such
attackseither by the Greeks
themselvesor by their allies
' ' towering overall his predecessors, eventsundoubtedlygenerated,
therewasin fact a greatpoet of the a small numberof episodes
and proteges. Enemyoccu- were selected, and those
pationof its territoryandthe late eighth or earlyseventh century selected were woven into a
overthrowof its kingbecame whose creative genius brought a continuousnarrative,which
woven into the fabricof the wascompressedinto a period
long- evolving narrativetraditionto its of ten years. But the poet
The traditionitselfwaskept peak of artisticexcellence. wentfurther.His storyhad to
alive by story-tellers, wan- be peopled with colorful
dering bards and minstrels characters. And so we are
who, Homertells us, entertainedthe courtsof Mycenaean presentedwith the lordlyAgamemnon,the braveAjax of
kingsandnoblemen.Storiesof the exploitsof greatheroesof massiveproportions,the nobleHektor,the sulkingAchilles,
the distantpastbecameintermingled withthe deedsof Greek the wilyOdysseus.Otherelementswereaddedfromthe stock
kingsandwarriorsof morerecenttimes.Fororaltraditionby repertoire of epic tradition-intervention by gods and
its very natureenables almostlimitless adaptationsof and goddesses,performanceof strangerituals,encounterswith
additionsto an existingbodyof folklore.Verylikely at the enchantressesandmonsters,andconsultationswiththe dead
requestof theirpatrons,the story-tellerswereobligedto add or the immortal.Wasthis the achievementof a singleperson?
new material constantly, as they forever updated their And if so, wasit the achievementof an eighthcenturypoet?
repertoireof tales.Evenafterthe greatBronzeAge kingdoms Or werethere a successionof poetsextendingbackthrough
had fallen,the traditionof a greatwarcontinued.And it was the DarkAge mists?WasHomermerelythe lastof a series?Or
perhapsin thislater,post-Bronze periodthatthe finalessential was he himself an invention-not a person, but the
componentof the Homerictraditioncame into being-the personificationof a processthat beganlong beforethe late
totaldestructionandabandonment of the citadelof Troy. eighthcentury?Theremayhavebeen one or moreDarkAge
We must emphasizethat no such dramaticend of Troyis poetsto whomthe bard'smantleshouldbe assigned,or at least
attested during the Late Bronze Age in either the withwhomit shouldbe shared.Yet the likelihoodremainsthat,
archaeologicalor the writtenrecord.In the archaeological toweringover all his predecessors,there was in fact a great
record,TroyVIIaquicklyreplacedTroyVIh,andwasoccupied poetof the lateeighthor earlyseventhcenturywhosecreative
by the samepopulationgroup,thoughthe dwellingswithinthe geniusbroughta long-evolvingnarrativetraditionto its peak
citadelwerenowhumbler,andthe conditionsmorecrowded. of artisticexcellence.
In the writtenrecord,Wilusawasliberatedfromits invaderson Undoubtedlydebateon whetheror not Homer'saccountof
at leasttwo occasionsin the thirteenthcentury,andthe local the TrojanWaris basedon factwillcontinue,as scholars,film
rulerhadhis authorityrestoredto him. But theredid come a producers,and anyone else interested in the tale of Troy
timewhenTroywasdestroyedandapparently abandoned byits continueto probeforthe truthbehindthe legend.Whyhave
population.Thisoccurredat the end of level VIIb,sometime so manybeen obsessedwithsucha searchforso long?Partof
between 1100 and 1000, in the aftermath of the great the reasonmaybe the beliefthat the poet'sreputationwould
upheavalsthroughoutthe NearEastandGreeceat the end of be all the greaterif we couldprovebeyonddoubtthathis tale
the Bronze Age. Its destruction was very likely due to of Troyis basedon historicalfact. But surelythe oppositeis
marauders who featuredin these upheavalsand aboutwhom true.Homerwasa creativeartist,not a historian,and that is
we hear fromEgyptianrecords-the so-called Sea Peoples. how he wouldwant to be judged.His epic compositionhas
Almostcertainlypopulationgroupsfromthe lastremnantsof capturedthe imaginationof one generationof listenersand
the Mycenaeanworldwereincludedamongstthe marauders. readersafteranother,anda countlesssuccessionof visualand
Around 1000 BCEnew waves of Greekscame to settle in literaryartists.Yetthisis not all. So powerfullyhashe toldhis
westernAnatolia. They knew of the great stories of their storythathe hasconvincedalmostallhislistenersandreaders,
ancestorswhodidbattlewiththe localAnatoliankingdoms.In includingsomeof the mostastutescholars,thathis characters
particular theyknewof the conquestof a kingdomcalledTroy are based on real people, and that these people were
or Ilios in Greektradition.Manymaywell have visited the participants in eventsthatreallydidhappen.
placewherethisconquestoccurred.Whatin factdidtheysee Let us for a moment suppose that the Iliad was from
there?The remainsof a oncegreatcitythathadbeendestroyed beginning to end a workof fiction, that Homer made the
and was now totally abandoned. This provided the final whole thing up. What then wouldbe the greatestfavorwe
element in the tradition-the closing episode to a tale of could do the poet?Assuredlyto proveto the satisfactionof
conflict,conquest,anddestruction. everyonethat his storyof Troyhas no historicalfoundation
All this providedthe rawmaterialfor the creativepoet-a whatsoever. Thatmorethananythingelsewouldmakeclearto
sequenceof events that took at least five hundredyearsto all the fullextentof the blindlonian'screativegenius.


65:3 (2002)
Notes Hiller,S.
1. In fact there was one (at least in Virgil'sAeneid)-the armysurgeon 1991 TwoTrojanWars?On the Destructionsof TroyVIh and VIIa.
Machaon,son of Asklepios. StudiaTroica1: 145-54.
2. The name"Mycenaean" is used todayas a termof conveniencefor the Korfmann,M.
whole of the LateBronzeAge (or LateHelladic)civilizationof mainland 1995 A Residential and TradingCity at the Dardanelles. Pp.
Greece.It reflectsMycenae'sprominencewithin this civilization,in the 173-83 in Politeia.SocietyandStatein theAegeanBronzeAge.
archaeologicalrecordas well as in Greekliterarytradition. (Proceedingsof the 5th InternationalAegean Conference,
3. Other ancient Greekwritersgive dates for the warrangingfromthe Univ of Heidelberg,ArchdiologischesInstitut, 10-13 April
secondhalfof the fourteenthto the secondhalfof the twelfthcenturies. 1994), edited by R. Laffineur and W.-D. Niemeier.
4. Fora concisedescriptionof recentexcavations,see Korfmann(1995). Liege/Austin:Universityof Liege/Universityof Texas.
5. See Hawkins and Easton (1996). The seal is further discussed by Macqueen,J.G.
Starke(1997), Alp (2001). 1986 The HittitesandtheirContemporaries in Asia Minor.London:
6. Melchert (2003: 12) remainscautiouson this matter,noting also the ThamesandHudson.
possibility that the inhabitants of Wilusa/Troyspoke a related, but Mee, C.
distinctIndo-European language. 1998 Anatolia and the Aegean in the Late Bronze Age: The
7. Now commonly referred to as the Assuwan Confederacy on the
Aegean and the Orient in the Second Millennium. Pp.
groundsthat Assuwafiguresin the text apparentlyas the regionin which 137-48 in Proceedingsof the 50th AnniversarySymposium
mostof the countrieswerelocated.
8. The earliest of these, found in Tarsusand featuringa king of south- Cincinnati,18-20April1997. Aegaeum18. Liege:University
of Liege.
westernAnatolia called Isputashu,dates back to the last decadesof the
sixteenthcentury. Melchert,H. C.
9. Accordingto Melchert(2003: 11-12). 2003 Prehistory. Pp. 11-12 in The Luwians, edited by H. C.
10. Tawagalawawas the brotherof the Ahhiyawanking. He had been Melchert,Leiden:Brill.
sent to Milawata to arrange the transportation of large numbers of MuhlyJ.D.
Hittite subjects back to the Greek mainland. The common tag 1992 The CrisisYearsin the MediterraneanWorld:Transitionor
"Tawagalawa Letter"is quite inappropriate since Tawagalawareceivesno CulturalDisintegration?Pp. 10-26 in The CrisisYears:the
morethan a briefmentionin the document,or ratherwhatsurvivesof it. 12thCenturyB.C.,editedbyW.A. WardandM. S. Joukowsky,
11. The brotherof Muwatalliand his second successoron the Hittite Dubuque:Kendall/Hunt.
throne. Starke,E
12. Vermeule(1986: 85-86). See also Hiller (1991: 145) regardingthe 1997 Troiaim Kontextdes Historisch-Politischen und Sprachlichen
tradition of an earlier Trojan War, and Muhly (1992: 16), Cline Umfeldes Kleinasiens im 2. Jahrtausend.StudiaTroica7:
(1997: 197-98). 447-87.
References 1986 Priam'sCastle Blazing.Pp. 77-92 in TroyandtheTrojanWar,
Alp, S. editedby M. J.Mellink.BrynMawr:BrynMawrCollege.
2001 Das Hieroglyphensiegelvon Trojaund seine Bedeutungfiir Watkins,C.
Westanatolien. Pp. 27-31 in Akten IV. Internationalen 1986 The Languageof the Trojans.Pp.45-62 in TroyandtheTrojan
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1963 TroyandtheTrojans. London:ThamesandHudson.
Cline,E. H.
1997 Achilles in Anatolia: Myth, History, and the Assuwa AUTAT
Rebellion. Pp. 189-210 in CrossingBoundariesand Linking
Horizons:Studies in Honor of Michael Astour on his 80th
Birthday,edited by G. D. Young,M. W. Chavalas,and R. E. trained
Originally asa classicist,
Averbeck,Bethesda:CDL. BrycehaslecturedinClassics
and Ancient
Easton,D. E at theUniversity
History ofQueensland,
1985 Has the TrojanWarBeen Found?(reviewof M. Wood, In attheUniversity
andsubsequently ofNew
Search of the TrojanWar, London: British Broadcasting (Australia), where he was
Corporation,1985).Antiquity59: 188-96. appointedto theChair of Classics and
Gurney,O. R. AncientHistory.
Morerecently heserved
1992 Hittite Geography:ThirtyYearsOn. Pp. 213-21 in Hittite
and OtherAnatolianand Near EasternStudiesin Honourof as DeputyVice-Chancellor of Lincoln
SedatAlp, editedby H. Otten, E. Akurgal,H. Ertem,and A. inNewZealand
University andcurrently
Siiel.Ankara:TiirkTarihKurumuBasimevi. is a FellowoftheAustralian Academy of TrevorBryce
1997 A HieroglyphicLuwianInscriptionon a Silver Bowl in the theHumanities andHonorary Research
Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, Ankara. Anadolu of Queensland, Australia. HisrecentpublicationsincludeThe
Medeniyetleri Kingdom of theHittites,LifeandSocietyin theHittiteWorld
Hawkins,J.D. andEaston,D. E andLetters oftheGreatKingsoftheAncientNearEast.
1996 A HieroglyphicSeal fromTroy.StudiaTroica6: 111-18.

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