With the opening of the new Trojan Museum, the visitors to Troy now have a possibility to gain much more information about this archaeological site and put its history into a much broader perspective. Most of the artefacts displayed in the museum had been previously exhibited in the Archaeological Museum in the centre of Çanakkale, far away from the site of Troy. The new arrangement makes it much easier to see these objects, and the visit to the museum is an excellent introduction to the tour of Troy.
Museum History and organisation
In 2012, plans were announced to open a new museum facility – the Troy Museum, which was to operate next to the ruins of Troy. The Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Turkey expropriated 10 hectares for this purpose. The selection of the project of the building was an important event, and many Turkish and foreign companies took part in the competition. In 2013, the results of the competition were announced, and the winning project was selected from among more than 150 projects by an expert jury.
The winning team from Yalin Architectural Design, consisting of Ömer Selçuk Baz, Okan Bal, Cenk Kurtel, Mehmet Yılmaz and Berrin Yavuz started to work on the project. The construction of the Troy Museum was initiated in 2013, but the project experienced some difficulties and the work was halted in 2015. It resumed in 2017 and was finally completed in October of 2018. This fortunate timing allowed the first visitors to see the venue during the Year of Troy, celebrated in 2018. The total cost of the building came to 45 million TL, i.e. approximately $8 million.
The team's official explanation and interpretation of the Troy Museum building is based on the idea of an "excavated artefact". This way of thinking led them to the creation of a robust cubic form with the sides 32 meters long. The building's height is equivalent to the pre-excavation height of ancient Troy. The external walls of the building are wrapped in weathering steel called Corten that rusts in time. The premise is to evoke the connection between the past and the present. The design conceals all supportive functions underground while the exhibition space of 2000 square meters is located within the cube where it is divided into four floors and a terrace.
The interior of the museum is designed in the industrial style, with bare concrete walls clearly visible. The interiors are minimally furnished, and the building's concrete frame has been left exposed to retain focus on the exhibits. The transparent roof lets the sunlight into the museum. Concrete access ramps connect all the floors of the museum, wrapping around the inside of the cube, and making it accessible for the guests with disabilities.
The building of the Troy Museum stands out in the barren landscape of the Trojan plain, attracting the visitors' attention from afar. If the effect it makes on the visitors is the one that its designers aimed at, remains an open question, to be answered by the guests themselves.
The entrance to the Troy Museum entrance is accessed by a large ramp lined with concrete walls with niches holing small exhibits. The ramp leads the visitors to the subterranean floor, with an entrance hall. This level also houses exhibition spaces, a cafe, a restaurant, and a museum shop. There are also conservation laboratories and storage space for the museum's collection, inaccessible to the visitors.
The exhibition is divided into four levels, starting at the lowest one: Cities of Troad, Layers of Troy, Ancient World, and Troy Excavation History. Above them, there is a terrace offering the views of the site of Troy and the whole region of the Troad. These four levels provide an overview of Troy and the Troad, divided into seven sections: Troad Region Archaeology, Bronze Age of Troy, Iliad and the Trojan War, Troad and Ilion in Ancient History, Eastern Rome and Ottoman Period, History of Archaeology, and Traces of Troy.
The exhibition presents these stories along a chronological timeline highlighting technological changes, social organization, political and economic relations, urban development, daily life, arts, and craftsmanship. The visitors can explore, read, watch, contemplate, and interact with the exhibition at their own pace. Moreover, a special storyline has been prepared within the exhibition for the younger visitors, to evoke their curiosity and facilitate engagement with the artefacts.
The collections of the museum include the exhibits previously displayed in Çanakkale Archaeological Museum but also other artefacts, transferred from Istanbul Archaeological Museums and Museum of Anatolian Civilizations in Ankara. Additionally, there are 24 pieces of gold jewellery returned by the US Penn Museum in 2012. In total, the museum displays around 2,000 artefacts and has more than 40,000 artefacts in its storehouse.
Level Z - Cities of Troad
The tour of the museum starts at the lowest level where the geography of the Troad is explained. This floor offers information about ancient cities of the Troad region, including Assos, Bozcaada (Tenedos), Parion, Alexandria Troas, Apollo Smintheion, Lampsakos, Thymbria, Tavolia, and Gökçeada (Imbros). The central space of the floor is the exhibition area devoted to these sites, while the corridor around this space offers access to a cloakroom, a cafeteria, a shop, toilets, and a conference hall. The exhibitions displayed in the corridor include a collection of the amphorae, column capitals, and tombstones. Moreover, this is also the space for temporary exhibitions.
Many finds exhibited in the museum come from two Turkish islands in the Aegean Sea. Tenedos (Bozcaada) is an Aegean island, already mentioned in the Iliad. The biggest attraction from the island of Bozcaada (ancient Tenedos) are the exhibits found in the local necropolis during rescue excavations. This cemetery was in use for an incredibly long period: from around 3000 BCE to the 19th century CE. These finds include the vessels from the 9th century BCE, local wine and olive oil jars (so-called askoi) made from grey clay, dated to the 7th century BCE, Corinthian pottery, also from the 7th century BCE, red-figure pottery from the 5th and 4th centuries BCE, and figurines of the goddess Cybele from the 5th century BCE. Moreover, the artefacts from the necropolis encompass stone masonry tombs, sarcophagi, pithoi, and urns. The burial gifts from the Archaic to the Hellenistic period shed light on the cultural interactions between the inhabitants of Tenedos and other regions, including continental Greece and Asia Minor.
The most valuable finds from the second Aegean island – Imbros (Gökçeada) – have been found in the area of Yenibademli Höyük archaeological site. Archaeological research has been conducted there since 1996, and seven architectural layers have been identified so far. The oldest of them contains examples of so-called Cyclopean walls and Mycenaean ceramics. The depth of each cultural layer varies from 3 to 5 meters. The inhabitants of this fortified settlement consumed lamb, goat, beef, and pork as well as marine products. This is a diet similar to their counterparts on the mainland, including Troy. Also, the houses, pottery, and tools do not show any differences from the ones found at Troy. A statue of a seated woman from the 2nd century BCE and some vessels have been brought to Troy Museum.
Fascinating finds have been collected from Dardanos Tumulus. Its discovery occurred by accident, during construction works for a nearby cement factory, conducted in 1959. When the burial chamber was found, archaeological research was undertaken by a team composed of employees of museums from Istanbul and Çanakkale, under the leadership of Rüstem Duyuran. After a long break, the next series of excavations were conducted from 1989. The motivation for the second round of research was a detected attempt of robbery of the tomb. Judging from the fragments of pottery the settlement of Dardanos was founded in the 7th or the 6th century BCE, in the time of Greek colonization of Troad from the island of Lesbos. It is also known that in times of domination of Athens, Dardanos paid a tribute of one talent to the Delian League.
The inscriptions on the walls of the tomb indicate that it was built in the late 6th century BCE by a wealthy citizen of Dardanos called Skamandrios or on his behalf. The tumulus was the burial place for an extended period, until the 1st or the 2nd century CE. When it ceased to be used for this purpose, the entrance to the hall was closed by boulders, and its exterior was masked by mud and debris. The essential contents of the tomb were funeral gifts. Around 470 items have been discovered there, including terracotta figurines, oil lamps, perfume bottles, pieces of woollen clothes, baskets, wooden musical instruments, and pieces of furniture. Metal products make an impressive set of 85 items; that consists of jewellery and tools made of gold, silver, bronze, iron, and lead.
The most spectacular discovery of Dardanos Tumulus was a collection of gold jewellery, including crowns, wreaths, medallions, earrings, necklaces, and rings, mainly from the Hellenistic period. The finds discovered during these excavations can be found in the museum. The visitors are greatly impressed by golden diadems and wreaths, dated to the 4th and the 3rd centuries BCE, and the treasures from the necropolis (dated to the 4th century BCE), including gold jewellery, statues, and pottery. In addition, the excavations in the area of the tumulus and its surroundings have resulted in the discovery of Hellenistic terracotta figurines, a collection of statues of Aphrodite and Eros, and ceramics from the period between the 4th and the 2nd century CE. Among these, the most striking piece is the 1st century BCE terracotta copy of the 4th-century statue of Cnidian Aphrodite by the famous sculptor Praxiteles. The goddess is depicted wearing jewellery in the shape of snakes.
Tavolia and Thymbria
Tavolia and Thymbria are two less-known sites of the Troad represented in the museum. Tavolia, also called Çoban Tepe or Tektop Tepe, is the prehistoric settlement is located on the southern shore of the Dardanelles, 2 kilometres to the northeast of Kumkale. The settlement spread to the southwest from a sheer cliff overlooking the Dardanelles. No excavations have been made at this location so far, but the surface finds date back to the Early Bronze Age (corresponding to Troy I) and the Late Bronze Age (Troy VI). The site was discovered during the Troy excavations of the Cincinnati University in 1932. It was assumed that Çoban Tepe is same as Tavolia named by J. Calvert.
The site identified with Thymbria, situated 6.5 km to the south-east of Troy, is now called Hanay Tepe. The prehistoric finds were discovered on the southern slope of the settlement while Frank Calvert first excavated it in 1853. His work was groundbreaking as at the time it was the first systematic excavation of a stratified site. Financial support provided by Heinrich Schliemann permitted allowed Calvert to continue excavations in 1878–79. The earliest layer of the site dates back to Troy I and the latest one - to the Byzantine times. The most important finds from Thymbria are wheel-made ceramics from the 2nd millennium BCE.
AssosOne of the most impressive collections in the museum is the one from Assos (now known as Behramkale). In the Iliad, there is information that a certain Elastos, killed by Agamemnon, had come from Pedasos, located on a steep mountain, near Satnoieis river. From this geographical description, it can be concluded that Pedasos was the same city that later was known as Assos. However, the ancient geographer Strabo, who lived at the turn of the first century BCE and the first century CE, wrote that Pedasos, one of Lelege cities, was abandoned in his times. This statement belies the theory that Pedasos can be equated with Assos, which was inhabited continuously from the moment of its founding in the 7th century BCE.
Archaeological findings help to reconstruct the history of Assos from the days when it was founded in the 7th century BCE by Aeolian settlers. Most probably, they settled in the area that had been previously inhabited from the prehistoric times. The Greeks came to Asia Minor probably from the city called Methymna located on the Aegean island of Lesbos. In the 6th century BCE, Assos got under the rule of the kingdom of Lydia, and then shared the fate of this country, becoming a part of the Persian Empire. The satrap of this Persian province, called Ariobarzanes, joined the so-called Great Satraps' Revolt. Persian governors of the provinces, despite the support obtained from the Egyptian Pharaoh, the king of Sparta, and several Greek cities, suffered defeat at the Battle of Assos in 365 BCE.
Beside the Greek finds, also the traces of Lydian, Persian, Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman periods have been found there. The most important ancient building of Assos was the Temple of Athena, partly preserved to our times, standing on the acropolis of the city, overlooking the Aegean Sea.
The first archaeological excavations in Assos were conducted by the expedition of the American Archaeological Institute under the direction of J.T. Clarke and F.H. Bacon in the years 1881-1883. During the works, the scholars examined and documented the Temple of Athena, a gymnasium, an agora, a theatre, a bouleuterion, and the tombs in the necropolis. Under the mutual agreement, 2/3 of the exhibits were given to the Sultan, and 1/3 – were taken to America. They are on display in the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. After a break of nearly one hundred years, in 1981, new research in Assos was started by Professor Ümit Serdaroğlu. For him, the study of Assos became life's work. When the scientist died in 2005, he was buried in Assos. Since 2006, the work has been headed by Dr Nusret Arslan from the University of Çanakkale.
Among the finds from the local necropolis, such as vessels and terracotta objects from the 5th and the 4th centuries BCE, there are fascinating figurines of musicians. Most likely, they were funeral gifts because they have been found in the sarcophagi. Perhaps there is a connection between them and the cult of the god Dionysus. The figurines depict musicians playing various instruments, including the lyre, the cithara, the drum, and the flute, as well as people dancing and singing. These finds provided vital information on the burial customs of that period of history.
Some fascinating exhibits have been brought to the museum from Lapseki (ancient Lampsakos), strategically situated on the Asian shore of the Dardanelles in the northern Troad. The city was founded by the Greeks from Miletus and Phokaia in the 7th century BCE. They were attracted to the north of Asia Minor by extremely fertile lands in the area. In antiquity, the city also was famous for its excellent wine. In ancient times, under the Roman rule, Lampsakos played an important role. Together with Abydos, located further to the south, at Cape Nara, it exercised total control over the movement of trade through the Hellespont (the Dardanelles) in the direction of the Black Sea. These two settlements were located in one of the narrowest points of this strait. Lampsakos also thrived in the Roman Imperial times and was favoured by Roman army veterans.
The most famous person connected with the history of Lampsakos is the renown natural philosopher Anaxagoras. He was born in Klazomenai – one of the cities of the Ionian League, but for most of his life he was a resident of Athens. His major work about nature has been preserved only in fragments, but it is known that Anaxagoras was the precursor of the scientific explanation of natural phenomena. Because of his views, belittling the role of the gods in the eyes of his contemporaries, he was prosecuted for impiety, and banished from Athens in 433 BCE. He spent the last years of his life in Lampsakos, where he was treated with great respect. After his death, an altar dedicated to the Spirit and the Truth was built in his honour in Lampsakos. Other famous people associated with the city include: Anaximenes of Lampsacus – a historian, an orator, a pupil of Diogenes, and the teacher of Alexander the Great; Metrodoros of Lampsakos – a philosopher and a student of Epicurus; and another Metrodoros of Lampsakos – a philosopher, a student of Anaxagoras, and a commentator on Homer.
The finds from Lampaskos displayed in the Troy Museum are represented by a stone table leg and a statue of a young man called (so-called kouros) from the 6th century BCE. Particularly striking is the statue of the goddess Aphrodite from the Hellenistic period.
Another archaeological site represented at the museum is Alexandria Troas, located on the shore of the Aegean Sea, opposite the island of Tenedos. The settlement in the area of Alexandria Troas had already existed before the Hellenistic period, and it was called Sigeia (Sigia). Antigonus I Monophthalmus only contributed to its development, through the resettlement of the residents of the surrounding towns around 310 BCE. With time, Alexandria Troas became the most important port city in the north-western part of Asia Minor, as well as the wealthiest city of the Troad. It owed its spectacular development to its strategic position, on the Aegean coast near the entrance to the Dardanelles. It meant that Alexandria was a convenient harbour for the transit of goods transported on the route from the east to the port of Neapolis in Macedonia, and further - to Rome.
In Roman times, Alexandria Troas acquired the status of a free and autonomous city. It is estimated that the city had a population of 100,000 people in the days of its greatest prosperity. Successive Roman emperors, including Augustus and Hadrian, contributed to the development of the city. Famous Roman statesman, philosopher and man of substance - Herodes Atticus - was appointed by Emperor Hadrian to the position of prefect of the free cities of Asia, in 125 CE. While holding this title, he funded the aqueduct of Alexandria Troas, fragments of which have been preserved to our times. Herodes Atticus was also a sponsor of a local theatre and baths.
Emperor Constantine the Great had an intention of making Alexandria Troas the new capital of the empire, but in the end, his choice fell to Byzantium, later known as Constantinople. It is not known precisely when the city was abandoned, but with the growing importance of Constantinople, Alexandria Troas lost its leading position in the region. In 267 CE, the Goths sacked the city, which had a substantial negative impact on its economic situation. It is known that over time the port was silted up, and the town fell into disrepair. In medieval times, travellers who saw the remains of Alexandria from the sea suspected that these had been the ruins of the legendary Troy and that they had seen the palace of the Trojan king Priam.
The site of Alexandria Troas was first excavated in 1993, and the work is continued today. The finds from this site displayed in the museum include terracotta figurines, lamps, pottery fragments, and coins. The statuettes of Kybele and Eros are prominent examples of the finds from Alexandria. Among the most impressive exhibits, there is a marble lion statue from the 2nd century CE. The table leg in the shape of a lion's head from the 1st century CE also draws much attention because of its detailed design. Rare bronze finds are represented by a hand fragment of a statue and a furniture element from the 2nd century CE.
Apollon Smintheion sanctuary is located 47 kilometres to the south of Troy, on the shore of the Aegean Sea, near the village of Gülpinar. The temple was dedicated to Apollo Smintheus, often interpreted as the Lord of Mice. Why did one of the gods of the Greek pantheon earn the nickname associated with rodents, and why was his temple built in the Troad? There is no clear answer to these questions, but when searching for them, it is necessary to start from the source, that is, from Homer. The history of Apollo as the Lord of Mice began with the following fragment of the Iliad:
Not a word he spoke, but went by the shore of the sounding sea and prayed apart to King Apollo whom lovely Leto had borne. "Hear me," he cried, "O god of the silver bow, that protectest Chryse and holy Cilla and rulest Tenedos with thy might, hear me oh thou of Sminthe. If I have ever decked your temple with garlands, or burned your thigh-bones in fat of bulls or goats, grant my prayer, and let your arrows avenge these my tears upon the Danaans.
Homer, the Iliad, Book I, translated by Samuel Butler
With these words, the priest of Apollo, Chryses, begs the god to bring revenge on the Greeks. Their main commander, Agamemnon, abducted his daughter, Chryseis. Apollo listened to this request, sent the plague onto the Greek army, and Chryseis was returned to her father. This situation became a source of conflict between Agamemnon and Achilles, the main theme of the Iliad. The most enigmatic word in the quoted passage is the nickname "Sminthe", given by Chryses to Apollo. The ancient Greeks had already found this word incomprehensible and attributed its origins to one of the Anatolian languages. Modern linguists agree with this opinion and derive the word from the Luvian language. Unfortunately, the epic poem of Homer does not provide any hints at the meaning of this word. Therefore, subsequent myths of Apollo tried to explain this nickname on the basis of the context in which it had been used in The Iliad. Since Apollo sent the plague on the Greeks, he was associated with rodents as major disease carriers. Therefore, Apollo, as the god that could send or finish an epidemic, became the "Lord of Mice".
The first archaeological excavations at the Temple of Apollo were carried out by the English architect Richard Popplewell Pullan. He received funding for the work at Teos, Priene, and the Temple of Apollon Smintheion, in the years 1863-1869. Systematic excavations were later conducted in the temple in the period 1971-1973, under the auspices of the Archaeological Museum of Çanakkale. Since 1980, ongoing excavations have been undertaken by a team from the University of Ankara, under the leadership of Professor Coşkun Özgünel. The finds from these excavations are now on display in the Troy Museum. They include pottery and clay lamps as well as numerous glass bottles.
Moreover, the history of this site goes back as far as the Chalcolithic period, around 5000 BCE. Professor Turan Takaoğlu conducted the excavations of this layer. His team found the evidence of animal husbandry, fishing, hunting and gathering of mussels and oysters. The early finds from Gülpinar displayed in the Troy museum include well-burnished, dark-coloured pottery, cheese pots and strainers, and fascinating terracotta figurines with no mouths.
Among the most prominent exhibits on the lowest level of the Troy Museum are the finds from the area known as Hellespontine Phrygia, situated around the Granicus and Aesepus Rivers. This region abounds in ancient tumuli, the huge artificial burial hills that date back to the period between the second half of the 6th century and the first half of the 4th century BCE. Thus, these tumuli are from the times when the Persians dominated in the Troad.
These tumuli were the tombs of wealthy landowners affiliated with the satrapal capital of Dascylium, that lay about 70 kilometres to the east of the Granicus River. The magnificent tombs represented the aristocratic competition among the Anatolian elite: the greater was the number and size of the tumuli on an estate, the higher was the associated status of the family. To be more visible, these tombs were located in prominent places, such as on high ridges or near the major waterways. The level of wealth of the people buried in these tumuli is attested by both the tomb structures and the associated grave gifts.
One of the most impressive objects displayed on the lowest level of the museum is the so-called Altıkulaç Sarcophagus. It was found within the Çingenetepe Tumulus in a circular corbel-vaulted tomb in the village of Altıkulaç. This village is located near the town of Çan in the eastern Troad, in the Granicus River valley. The sarcophagus is, most probably, from the first quarter of the 4th century BCE, when the region was under the Persian control.
Two sides of the painted marble sarcophagus of Graeco-Persian type are decorated with figural representations, and much of the original colours have been preserved. The front shows two different scenes: a boar hunt at the right and a fallow buck hunt at the left, while a leafless tree in the centre serves as a divider. The left part of this side is of particular interest as the figure of a hunter was chiselled off after the sarcophagus was finished and painted. This could indicate that the depicted person committed an offence against the family of the deceased.
On the short side, an Anatolian dynast from the Hellespontine Phrygia is depicted in hunting and battle scenes. The battle scene shows a mounted, armoured warrior, accompanied by his henchman, spearing a fallen light-armed soldier. The clothes of both figures suggest that it was a battle between a Greek and a Persian. The rider was almost certainly the dynast to whom the sarcophagus belonged while His henchman, judging from his appearance, was probably a Greek mercenary in the service of the cavalryman.
The skeletal remains that were found in the sarcophagus belong to the man in his twenties. He must have suffered severe injuries, either in battle or after falling off a horse when many of his limbs had been crushed. He lived for several more years as a cripple, his limbs remaining misaligned. As his bones did not heal properly, he experienced pain for the rest of his life.
Dedetepe Tumulus, also situated in the Granicus Plain, dates back to the early 5th century BCE. It was excavated in 1994 by the archaeologists from Çanakkale Archaeological Museum. It contains a burial chamber measuring 3.60 by 3.60 meters, erected of marble blocks connected with lead clamps, preceded by an antechamber. Inside the chamber, there were two marble banqueting couches called klinai, placed respectively against the rear wall and the left wall. They had painted decoration with palmettes, volutes and meander patterns, in yellow, red, blue, green, and black. In front of the couches, there were elaborately decorated wooden stools. As four skulls were discovered within the chamber, it is assumed that it had been used for several generations.
The chamber had been robbed, not only once but twice, for the first time in the Hellenistic times. Interestingly, the ancient robbers left their traces in the form of the sweat and mud marks on the walls and the couches. Possibly, they attempted to clean their hands during the act of robbery. Despite the plunder, the archaeologists found some fragments of wooden furniture and an ivory knife handle in the shape of a stag head. Moreover, alabaster ceramics and pieces of musical instruments were recovered, indicating that a meal was held there during the funeral celebrations. The exhibition in the Troy Museum recreates the interior of the grave chamber. Moreover, the multimedia demonstration shows how it had originally appeared.
Parion was a Greek city located on the border of historical lands of Troad and Mysia. In ancient times, Parion functioned as an important harbour for the surrounding settlements. The origin of the town’s name has not yet been scientifically explained, but there is a tradition that it comes from Paris, the son of the Trojan king Priam. The city was founded probably about 3,000 years ago as a colony by settlers from Eretria (a Greek polis from the island of Euboea), Miletus, and the island of Paros in the Aegean Sea. Parion was a member of the Delian League. In the city, there were defensive towers, and at least four temples. In the Hellenistic period, it came under the control of Lysimachus – one of diadochi of Alexander the Great. After his death, the city was taken over by the Attalids from Pergamon. As a part of the Pergamon Kingdom, Parion was handed over to the Romans by the will of Attalos III in 133 BCE.
Antique coins from Parion testify to its great importance and advanced minting facilities. The most interesting picture, visible on the coins from the Hellenistic period, is the coat of arms. It depicts the so-called gorgoneion, i.e. the head of the Gorgon – a terrible mythological beast with sharp fangs, and hair in the form of poisonous snakes. In ancient times, gorgoneion served as an apotropaic amulet, reversing evil charms (similar role is now played by nazar boncuğu - a popular Turkish amulet). The relation between the city of Parion and the Gorgon is not fully understood, most likely the monster was chosen as the emblem of the city to reverse bad intentions and repel attacks against its inhabitants. Perhaps it had to do with military power represented by Parion.
Archaeological work has been conducted at the ruins of Parion for many years. The existence of ancient Parion was no secret to the father of the Turkish archaeology – Osman Hamdi Bey. He found a sarcophagus there, later transported to the Archaeological Museum in Istanbul. From 2005 to 2015, a team of archaeologists in Parion was directed by Professor Cevat Başaran from Atatürk University in Erzurum. The current director of the works is Professor Vedat Keleş.
The most important discoveries made by the team of archaeologists are tombs and sarcophagi from the area of Parion necropolis. Among them, it is worth mentioning a 2200-year-old sarcophagus, which was unearthed in 2009. Golden earrings found in it bear the symbol of Eros, and they were accompanied by numerous rings and some fragments of the crown decorated with precious stones. These finds allow the presumption that a rich person was buried there, and she was called the princess of Parion by the discoverers of the tomb. Unfortunately, the bones of the people buried in the necropolis have not been well preserved because of soil moisture due to the proximity of the sea. A royal crown and gold coins with the figure of the sun god were discovered in another tomb.
In addition to these special sarcophagi, around 200 graves have been discovered in the necropolis so far, often with gifts for the dead, including bottles for tears, oil lamps, and toys. Sometimes the funeral gifts enable the identification of the occupation of the person buried there, as in the case of the tomb with bronze fragments of a fishing rod from the 1st century CE. Unfortunately, many of the tumuli surrounding Parion have been plundered by treasure hunters.
Among the finds from Parion displayed in the Troy Museum, the most beautiful artefact is a decorated bronze amphora found in 2005. It probably dates back to the second half of the 4th century BCE, but its current state is the result of the restoration carried out in 2010. Other artefacts from Parion on display include the statue of Orpheus from the end of the first century BCE and numerous clay lamps and vessels.
The ancient city of Pegaea was located on the plain of Adrastea, which is the borderland between the historical lands of Troad and Mysia. As no systematic archaeological work has been carried out in Biga, the oldest history of the human settlement remains a mystery to researchers. Nowadays, the city is called Biga, and it is now the largest city in the central part of the Troad. Pegaea is represented in the Troy Museum by a marble tombstone from the 2nd century CE.
The main event that is linked with the history of Biga happened on the banks of a small river flowing through the city. It is now known as Biga Çayı, although there are also two other names – Çan Çayı and Kocabaş Çayı. This river, flowing from the northern slopes of the massif of Ida Mountain, meets the Sea of Marmara after negotiating 80 km through the area of the Troad. It is best known by its ancient name – Granicus River. In May of 334 BCE, in the Battle of the Granicus, very near modern Biga, the army of Alexander the Great defeated the Persian forces, opening the way for the Macedonians to the conquest of Asia Minor.
The museum also has among its collections the items found in archaeological sites located on the Gallipoli Peninsula. The sculpture of a horse from the 4th century CE has come from Lysimacheia (near Bolayır), and the gravestone of an athlete from the 5th century BCE has been found in the vicinity of Küçükanafarta (near Eceabat).
Neolithic settlements of the Troad
The first settlements in the region of Troad, reaching back to the Neolithic period, i.e. 8000 BCE, are also represented in the Troy Museum. The first of them is known as Coşkuntepe (Bademli), located in the south-western corner of the Troad. This significant Neolithic settlement was situated on a natural hill over the coast. The excavations suggested that the earliest inhabitants of this site lived around 6000 BCE, and they made their living through fishing and animal husbandry.
Another settlement of this period is Hanaytepe (Bozköy), near Ezine, some 13 kilometres to the south of Troy. This tumulus is considered as one of the most important prehistoric settlement areas of the region. It was first studied by professor Rüstem Aslan, the current head of the Troy excavations. He stated that this is the second biggest tumulus of the Troad after Troy. The essential finds include high-quality stone-headed hand axes made around 3000 BCE.
Alacaligöl site is located around four kilometres to the west of Troy. Some researchers speculate that this low-lying area was a convenient harbour location for Troy. The excavations conducted since the year 2000 revealed the existence of a prehistoric settlement site, dated to the Neolithic and Chalcolithic periods.
Beşik-Sivritepe tumulus is among the most famous one from the Troad region. For a long time, it has been believed to be a monumental grave of one of the heroes of the Trojan War, possibly Achilles himself, and thus it has been dubbed the Achilleion. It was first excavated at the end of the 19th century by Heinrich Schliemann, who used there the same drastic measures that he applied at Troy. He dug a tunnel to enter the burial chamber. Due to the extensive excavations carried out on top of the tumulus, the layers were largely destroyed, so the proper stratification became impossible. More recently, Manfred Korfmann, the long-time director of Troy excavations, also studied the tumulus, from 1983 to 1987. The finds from Beşik-Sivritepe include pottery sherds collected by Schliemann: they represent hand-made, brown, black and yellow burnished ware. Moreover, the abundance of oysters and mussel shells discovered at this site suggests that these sea animals were an essential source of food. The location was inhabited between 4800 and 4000 BCE.
Finally, the lowest floor exhibition also displays the so-called Trojan Treasure. Some of the golden objects on display were previously in the collections of the Istanbul Archaeological Museum. The significant group of artefacts was returned to Turkey in 2012 from the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. This institution acquired these fantastic pieces of gold jewellery in 1966. When the scientific analyses indicated that these objects had come from Troy, the treasure was transferred back to Turkey, thanks to the efforts of the Turkish Ministry of Culture.
Level 1 - Layers of Troy
The ramp takes the visitors to the second level of the museum. Along the ramp, the introduction of bronze as a new kind of metal is presented, and the history of Early Bronze Age Asia Minor is discussed. Moreover, the neighbours of Troy from the northern Aegean islands, Western Anatolia, and Thrace are introduced.
The exhibition on the second level of the museum is dedicated to the explanation of the layers of the archaeological site of Troy. The exhibits from the layers of Troy have been grouped into six categories, representing Troy I, II, III, IV-V, VI, and VII. These layers and development stages of Troy are described in chronological order, with Troy II, VI, and VII particularly crucial as the most influential stages of the ancient city.
There is a multimedia presentation that helps to understand the changes of Troy over the millennia. Moreover, the changing geography of the region is carefully explained, emphasising that when Troy was founded around 3000 BCE, it was located close to a deep lagoon. In time, the alluvium brought by the Scamander and Simoeis Rivers gradually silted and filled this lagoon.
The exhibition on the second level also gets back to other settlements of the region, explaining their chronology in relation to the history of Troy. Therefore, apart from the artefact from Troy, also the finds from other Neolithic settlements of the Troad are exhibited here, including the ones from Beşik-Sivritepe and Kumtepe.
Moreover, the exhibition presents and explains various aspects of daily life in ancient Troy, including masonry, weaving, pottery-making, and cooking methods. A particular emphasis is on the importance of Troy in the maritime trade in the Bronze Age. For instance, the ancient art of weaving is demonstrated in the museum by a loom reconstructed on the basis of the fragments found by Carl Blegen inside a burned building. The fabric on display was woven using the replicas of loom weights, found in thousands within the ancient site of Troy. On display, there are also spindle whorls and the objects related to dye production and sewing. The food production process of the Trojan Maritime Culture - i.e. the earliest three layers of Troy - is represented in the museum by numerous finds, including grinding stones, lids, plates, tripod vessels, bowls, and jugs. A red-painted jar found in 1995 and considered to be the oldest known painted vessel fragment is also on display.
The aesthetic aspects of the early Trojan's lives are also represented in the exhibition. On display, there are quartz objects such as a lion hear or a pendant. The gold jewellery collection includes a gold earring. An exciting exhibit is related to the process of jewellery production: a stone jewellery mould from the Middle Bronze Age.
The objects excavated from the layer of Troy II include the collections of plates, dishes decorated with spatial figures, and many drinking vessels, including the specimens of the so-called depas amphikypellon (a term used by Homer to describe high and narrow vessels with two handles), and the vessels similar in shape to modern mugs. The museum has exhibits from later chronological layers of Troy, including Troy V – dishes and pots, and Troy VIIa-VI – Mycenaean vessels. There are also special thematic display cases devoted to weapons, bone tools, and bronze objects.
Level 2 - Ancient World
The wide ramp takes the visitors to the third level of the museum. As the guests climb to this level, they are introduced to the history of the transitional period between the Bronze Age and the Iron Age. Moreover, new civilizations that developed in Asia Minor between 1200 and 800 BCE are presented, including the Phrygians and the Lydians.
The exhibition of this level also offers insights into the realities of other cities of the Troad in the Roman period. The artefacts come from Alexandria Troas, a harbour city that controlled the maritime traffic in the area. A marble pedestal with the inscription mentioning Emperor Hadrian comes from Parion, a city declared as a privileged one by Augustus. Another exhibit - a marble inscription - was found in the city of Maydos, now Eceabat on the Gallipoli Peninsula.
The most prominent artefacts from the Roman-period Ilium are the sculptures documenting the importance of the city to Roman Emperors. The first one is the head of Emperor Augustus, found in Troy excavations. The most beautiful exhibit is the larger-than-life cuirassed statue of Emperor Hadrian found in the odeon of Troy.
Another fascinating exhibits are the terracotta plaques of a horseman, found as votive objects within Troy's Western Sanctuary. They depict a young, unbearded male rider wearing a cloak. A snake appears beneath his horse, indicating the cult of a hero. Professor Brian Rose suggested that this figure represents Dardanos, the mythical ancestor of the Trojans. His son, Ilus, was regarded as the founder of Troy, and the name of the city - Ilium/Ilios - came from him. Other finds from the Western Sanctuary are the figurines of Kybele, the mother-goddess, depicted with a lion on her lap, and wearing a mural crown on her head.
One of the most striking artefacts displayed on this floor is the so-called Polyxena Sarcophagus from Kızöldün Tumulus. It is 2500 years-old and would better fit into the exhibition at the lowest level of the museum. Its placement on the third level most probably results from the history that is narrated on its decorated sides.
Kızöldün Tumulus is the oldest known tumulus of Hellespontine Phrygia. It was found in the Granicus River valley, near Biga in the Province of Çanakkale in 1994. The discovery was the result of the rescue operations carried out after the authorities had been notified about illegal digs in the area. Within the tumulus, the archaeologists found two marble sarcophagi: one representing the sacrifice of Polyxena, dating to around 500–490 BCE, and another containing the body of a 10-year-old girl, buried 40 or 50 years later.
Polyxena Sarcophagus is a remarkable object as it is one of the earliest stone sarcophagi with figural scenes ever to have been found in Asia Minor. It represents the early example of the Proconnesian marble workshops. It has impressive dimensions of 3.32 meters in length, 1.60 meters in width, and 1.78 meters in height. A whole in the cover of the sarcophagus indicates that it had been robbed in antiquity. Moreover, fragments of a wheeled cart that transported the corpse to the tumulus were discovered beneath the terracotta tiles that surrounded the sarcophagus. Although the figures of the reliefs depict mainly women, the person buried was a 40-year-old man.
The reliefs on the sarcophagus show a funerary celebration on three sides, and on the back what is believed to be the sacrifice of Polyxena by Neuptolemos in front of the tomb of his father Achilles. Although not mentioned by Homer, Polyxena was a well-known figure of Greek mythology. She was tee youngest daughter of King Priam of Troy and his wife, Hecuba. An oracle prophesied that Troy would not be defeated if Polyxena's brother, Prince Troilus, reached the age of twenty. The siblings were ambushed when they were attempting to fetch water from a fountain, and Troilus was killed by Achilles, who soon became interested in Polyxena. He seemed to trust Polyxena, and he told her of his only vulnerability: his heel.
Polyxena revealed this secret to her brothers, Paris and Deiphobus, who ambushed Achilles and shot him in the heel with an arrow. At the end of the Trojan War, Achilles' ghost came back to the Greeks to demand the human sacrifice of Polyxena to appease the wind needed to set sail back to Greece. She was to be killed at the foot of Achilles' grave. Polyxena was eager to die as a sacrifice to Achilles rather than live as a slave. She refused to beg for mercy and died bravely as the son of Achilles, Neoptolemus, slit her throat.
The second sarcophagus found in the same location, is just over half the size of the first. It contained the skeleton of a girl aged between eight and ten. Luckily, this sarcophagus had not been plundered, and it contained a group of burial gifts including gold boat-shaped earrings, two elaborate necklaces, and bracelets with antelope-head terminals, a silver ladle and plate, baked clay alabaster vessels, a glass aryballos, and a painted wooden female figurine. Many of these objects have been influenced by the Achaemenid style dominant at the time in the region, and this also applies to the architectural decoration of the sarcophagus.
Finally, this floor boasts a huge model of the Trojan War based on the geography of the region. It shows Greek armies and ships in a bay as well as the city of King Priam with its houses and the inner fortress. The narrative of the Trojan War is supported by a multimedia presentation of the friezes from Apollon Smintheion Temple. There, the scenes from Homer's Iliad are presented in bas-relief. A map shows the main characters of the Trojan War, both on the Greek and the Trojan sides, placing them into a geographical context of the region. This part of the exhibition is supplemented with classical Greek vessels with the depictions of the scenes from the Trojan War.
Level 3 - Troy Excavations History
The ramp to the highest level of the exhibition presents the latest history of Troy. The information boards explain how the location of Troy was forgotten, but its heritage was not. It emphasises who many European dynasties regarded themselves as the descendants of the Trojans, including the Franks, the Venetians, and the Habsburgs. Along the ramp, there are also reprints of the old maps that tried to pinpoint the exact location of Troy. Also, the links between the Ottomans and Troy are explained, starting from Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror who claimed that he had avenged Troy by conquering Constantinople. His sentiments were repeated much later, by the first president of the Turkish Republic, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. In 1922, after the victory over the Greek army, he stated that "at Dumlupınar, we avenged Hector".
The exhibitions on the highest level of the museum are divided into several categories, including the history of Troy excavations, Troy in the Gallipoli battles, Troy in popular culture and art, but also Ottoman Çanakkale and the Lost Heritage.
The history of Troy excavations is the central part of this exhibition. It has a form of crates filled with archaeological finds, mainly pottery fragments, surrounded with the information boards about the archaeological exploration of the site. This installation is completed with the photographs from the excavation site. The main aim of the exhibit, besides providing basic information, is the demonstration who Troy has become one of the most important reference points for the archaeological exploration of the Aegean region. It also demonstrates that Troy is the site where modern archaeology was born. Much attention is paid to the archaeologists who worked at Troy: Frank Calvert, Heinrich Schliemann, Wilhelm Dörpfeld, Carl W. Blegen, and Manfred Osman Korfmann.
The Lost Heritage section is devoted to the artefacts that had been taken out of the country by Heinrich Schliemann who smuggled many finds out of the Ottoman Empire. Despite his excavation permit that required that he shared the finds 50-50 with the Ottoman government, Schliemann smuggled most of the so-called Priam Treasure to Greece, via the harbour at Kumkale. Today, the major part of this treasure is in Russia, in the Pushkin Museum in Moscow and the Hermitage in St. Petersburg. The special multimedia presentation enables the visitors of the Troy Museum to see some of these lost artefacts.
Ottoman Çanakkale exhibition displays old engravings depicting this city. There are also some examples of the famous Çanakkale ceramics as well as the Ottoman-period tombstones, architectural fragments, and coins. The importance of the Ottoman settlements and the Dardanelles in the early days of the Ottoman Empire are also discussed.
Troy Museum situated 700 meters to the east of Troy archaeological site. The visiting hours are 8:30 am to 7:00 pm from 1 April to 31 October, and 8:30 am to 5:30 pm from 1 November to 31 March. The ticket office closes half an hour earlier. The museum is closed until 1 pm on the first day of religious holidays. The ticket costs 42 TL. Children below 8 enter for free. There is also a possibility to purchase a combined ticket to Troy and the nearby Troy Museum for 60 TL.
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