Eastern Fortifications of Troy VI

GPS coordinates: 26.239600, 39.957139

Archaeological site: 

Eastern Fortifications of Troy VI
Eastern Fortifications of Troy VI

Description: 

This text is a fragment of a guidebook to Troy "The Secrets of Troy (TAN Travel Guide)".

Eastern Fortifications of Troy VI, possibly of the Homeric city, include the long stretch of walls of ashlar masonry, the ingeniously designed gate, and the magnificent Eastern Tower. The walls were erected around 1700 BCE while the tower was added in the later period, possibly in the 13th century.

Before you go down the stairs and walk along these walls, stop on the viewing platform above. The platform sits on the remains of the wall of the Temple District from the Greek and Roman periods. The traces of the lower city of Greco-Roman Ilion are behind you. In front, you can see a panoramic view of Troy on the Hisarlık Mound and the surrounding countryside.

Stay on the platform for a while, to gain some orientation in the geography of the region. In front of you, to the north, on bright days, it is possible to glimpse the waters of the Dardanelles with the island called Tenedos. Homer mentioned that between Tenedos and another island called Imbros, there was a wide cavern, in which Poseidon kept his horses.

According to the Little Iliad, the Greeks were hiding on Tenedos after they pretended to leave Troy. Also there, according to the Odyssey, the Greeks leaving Troy after winning the war travelled first and made sacrifices. Between the Dardanelles and Troy stretches the plain of Scamander River, extending to the west. To the left, far on the horizon, the outline of the Mount Ida massif can be barely seen.

The viewing platform is the best place to understand how Troy VI was protected behind the massive fortifications. The circumference of these walls originally measured around 550 meters, of which 330 meters are still standing. It is the proof of the ingenuity of Trojan builders who erected the walls some 3700 years ago.

This masterwork of architecture was built of massive regular blocks of limestone and reached a height of six meters. Most probably, over the wall, there was also a mud-brick superstructure that brought the total height of the fortifications to ten meters. In the area of the Eastern Gate, two lines of walls, external and internal, can be observed, overlapping each other. At this point, there was a gate, invisible from the outside and impossible to force using a battering ram as there was no space to use it.

The walls of Troy were the spectators during the fight between the Trojan prince Hector and the Greek warrior Achilles. Hector was the son of King Priam and Queen Hecuba. During one of the battles of the Trojan War, he killed Achilles's best friend, Patroclus and thus enraged Achilles who set to avenge his fallen comrade. Hector decided to fight against Achilles in a duel, but when he saw the approaching Greek warrior, he was seized by fear and started to flee. The opponents run around the fortifications of Troy three times. If we assume that Troy VI was the Homeric city, it would mean that before the duel the heroes had run around 1.5 kilometres.

Finally, Hector mastered his fears and faced Achilles. His bravery came to nothing as goddess Athena personally supported Achilles. Even when he finally realized that his efforts were in vain, Hector decided to continue the fight and die as a hero, remembered because of his bravery in years to come. In his final words, dying Hector asked Achilles for an honourable funeral but was refused.

The walls of Troy also silently witnessed the wreath of Achilles who decided to desecrate Hector's body and let the dogs and vultures devour his flesh. It was the greatest punishment for the ancients because it meant condemning the soul to eternal wandering on earth. In addition, Achilles attached the body to his chariot and rode around the walls of Troy every morning.

Finally, even the gods could not stand watching this gruesome ritual. After twelve days, they sent two messengers: Iris and Thetis, the mother of Achilles who told him to allow King Priam to come and take the body for ransom. King Priam offered Achilles richly decorated clothes and many objects made of gold. Achilles returned the body and even offered a truce of twelve days to allow the Trojans to perform funeral rites for Hector. The last lines of the Iliad are dedicated to Hector's funeral.

While gazing upon such magnificent fortifications, it is tempting to imagine that these were the walls of the mythical Troy, besieged by the Greek army, especially that the walls seem impenetrable and the Greeks only managed to get inside using the Trojan Horse trick. Wilhelm Dörpfeld, a German archaeologist and architect, who excavated Troy at the end of the 19th century had the same idea. He argued that proper identification of Homeric Troy points to Troy VI. This idea was later undermined by an American archaeologist Carl Blegen who worked at Troy 40 years later. He claimed that small buildings and food storages from Troy VIIa indicate that this layer represents the Homeric Troy.