This article has been previously published as a part of book Gallipoli Peninsula and the Troad: TAN Travel Guide by Izabela Miszczak
Dardanos Tumulus is considered one of the most important archaeological sites in the region of Troad. Despite the importance of this burial place and its priceless contents, there are few systematic studies concerning this discovery. What is more, a visit to the site may also be quite disappointing. The golden treasures of Dardanos exhibited in the Troy Museum may prove to be much more attractive.
Not much is known about the ancient city of Dardanos. No systematic excavations have been conducted so far to could uncover the remains of municipal buildings. Judging from the fragments of pottery the settlement was founded in the 7th or the 6th century BC, that is, 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 BC 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 AD. When it ceased to be used for this purpose, the entrance to the hall was closed by boulders, and its exterior masked by mud and debris.
The discovery of Dardanos Tumulus 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 was conducted in 1989. The motivation for the second round of research was a detected attempt of robbery of the tomb. The finds discovered during these excavations can be found in the Troy Museum.
The contrast between the ideas concerning the tumulus acquired during a visit to the museum and the reality of the site, is tremendous. Dardanos Tumulus is an inconspicuous hill overgrown with weeds, hidden in the woods, and rarely visited by tourists. The entrance to the tomb is protected by robust grates though you can take a look inside between the bars.
It is a stone tomb hidden under an artificial mound. The tomb consists of a corridor, a vestibule, and a burial chamber. The uncovered corridor (so-called dromos) was built of stone blocks. The passage is separated from the vestibule (foyer) by the entrance in the shape of a trapezoid. Between the vestibule and the burial chamber, there is another door opening, this time - a rectangular one. The tomb is oriented along the north-west to south-east axis, and it measures 12.40 meters in length. The height of the burial chamber is 3.45 meters, and the vestibule is slightly lower.
In the burial chamber the were three stone benches, called klinai in Greek, arranged in a U-shape along the rear wall and side walls of the chamber. 42 human skulls were found during the excavations, leading the researchers to the conclusion that the deceased people were laid on these stone benches. Other finds from the tomb include urns with human remains and ashes from the cremation.
The essential contents of the tomb were also funeral gifts. Around 470 items have been discovered there, including terracotta figurines, oil lamps, perfume bottles, pieces of woolen clothes, baskets, wooden musical instruments, and pieces of furniture. Metal products make an impressive set of 85 items; that consists of jewelry and tools made of gold, silver, bronze, iron, and lead. The most spectacular discovery of Dardanos Tumulus was a collection of gold jewelry, including crowns, wreaths, medallions, earrings, necklaces, and rings, mainly from the Hellenistic period.
Dardanos Tumulus is located on the premises of one of the campuses of Onsekiz Mart University from Çanakkale. To get to the tumulus it is necessary to obtain a pass from the guard at the entrance gate. The car must be left in the parking lot next to the university buildings, so you need to walk the remaining distance to the tomb. The path leads to the north-east through a forest. After walking 250 meters, you arrive at the tumulus. It is marked with rusty information boards.
By car: from the center of Çanakkale, take route E87 in the southern direction, following the signposts to the famous site of Troy. About 10 km from the center of Çanakkale, turn right into Dardanos Caddesi, drive 1 km, and turn left into Eski İzmir Caddesi. Two kilometers further turn right and enter the campus of Onsekiz Mart University.