Little Bits of History

Trojan Horse

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 11, 2015
Walls of Troy excavation*

Walls of Troy excavation*

June 11, 1184 BC: Troy is sacked and burned. This was the date given by Greek polymath Eratosthenes. He was born in Cyrene in 276 BC and died in Alexandria in 194 BC. What he is most famous for is his mathematical calculation for the circumference of the Earth. He was also a geographer (after he invented the field), poet, astronomer, and music theorist. He was the chief librarian at the Library of Alexandria. His calculations led him to estimate not only the circumference, but the tilt of the Earth as well as its distance from the Sun. He invented leap day and was the first to draw a map with parallels and meridians. He also was the founder of scientific chronology and it was in that capacity that he came up with this date for the sack of Troy.

Troy had many names and spellings in Greek and Latin. Ilios is one spelling and it is from that that we get the great Homeric tale of the Iliad. The city was in Anatolia (what is today Turkey) at the southwest end of the Dardanelles/Hellespont. The city was the location for the Trojan War and it is given various dates by different historians. Herodotus chose earlier (1250 BC) and Duris of Samos even earlier (1334 BC) for the conclusion. Modern archaeologists working the cite associate Homeric Troy with archaeological Troy VII. There are layers of excavation in what is considered to be the city of Troy and they are labeled Troy I through Troy IX. The earliest timeframe is 3000-2600 BC. Troy VI has sublayers as it covers the 17th-15th centuries BC and takes the city to the late Bronze Age. Troy VII also has several different layers with VIIa being the one mostly likely at the time of the Trojan War (1300-1190 BC).

The first five layers are considered to be Western Anatolian and Early Bronze Age with the city being founded around 3000 BC. It seemed to have been a flourishing mercantile city as its strategic location gave it complete control over the Dardanelles and trade heading from the Aegean Sea to the Black Sea had to pass through Troy territory. As the Hittites came through, Troy was not burned as other cities in the area, but the newer archaeological digs show a change in culture which indicates a takeover of the city’s management. The city was destroyed by earthquake around 1250 BC as there is no evidence of war or fighting in the ruins at that time.

Evidence of fire and slaughter around 1184 BC (according to the archaeology of the region) are probably the residual evidence of the Trojan War immortalized by Homer. From the ruins, it has been estimated that the city walls enclosed about 50 acres and had towers reaching up to about 30 feet. There were probably somewhere between five and ten thousand people living there which made it a large and important city. The Troy built between the earthquake and destroyed with the sacking by the Greeks lasted about a century. The Troy of this period was destroyed by war and there are partial human remains which were found in houses and the streets. There still remains much of the city to be excavated and more answers will surely be found.

Aeneas carried his aged father on his back from the ruins of Troy and so do we all, whether we like it or not, perhaps even if we have never known them. – Angela Carter

If Helen of Troy could have been seen eating peppermints out of a paper bag, it is highly probable that her admirers would have been an entirely different class. It is the thing you are found doing while the horde looks on that you shall be loved for — or ignored. – Djuna Barnes

When I read a child’s book about the Trojan War and decided that the Greeks were really a bunch of frauds with their tricky horses and the terrible things they did, stealing one another’s wives, and so on, so at that very early age, I re-wrote the ending of the Iliad so that the Trojans won. – James A. Michener

I am been more ravished myself than any body since the Trojan War. – Lord Byron

Also on this day: Epicurean Feast – In 1939, the US President served the King of England hot dogs.
Limelight – In 1892, a new filming industry opened in Australia.
Great Barrier Reef v. Endeavour – In 1770, Captain Cook ran aground.
Wedded Bliss – In 1509, King Henry VIII married Catherine of Aragon.
Purging the Russian Army – In 1937, eight Soviet Union officers were executed.

* “Walls of Troy (1)” by CherryX per Wikimedia Commons. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons –

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