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x0x TROY:THE LAND WHERE LEGEND CAME TRUE

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    x0x TROY:THE LAND WHERE LEGEND CAME TRUE By Nermin Baycin First there was a book, the Iliad, written approximately 2720 years ago by Homer, one of the greatest
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 15, 2003
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      x0x TROY:THE LAND WHERE LEGEND CAME TRUE

      By Nermin Baycin

      First there was a book, the Iliad, written approximately 2720 years
      ago by Homer, one of the greatest poets the world has ever known. This
      epic work told of a war, inescapable fate, the destruction of a city,
      and tragic defeat. This splendid city lying southeast of the
      Dardanelles Strait was known as Wilusa, Taruisa, (W)ilios or Troia.

      When Homer began to write his epic poem about the ten-year war between
      the Achaeans, as he called the Greeks, and the Trojans, he was also
      laying the foundations of European literature. From that time on he
      and the legend he created were to be a central element in the history
      of European thought and culture. European peoples and aristocratic
      families attributed their origins to Troy and its heroes. Rome traced
      its foundation to Aeneas the Trojan, and chivalric romances of the
      12th and 13th centuries considered the Britons, Franks, and Normans to
      be of Trojan ancestry. For a time the Turks (Turci), too, were
      regarded as descendants of another Trojan, Turcus or Turkoy, who had
      fled from the city.

      Since Greek and Roman times the myth of Troy has fired people's
      imaginations, and kings and rulers, including Alexander the Great,
      Julius Caesar, Augustus, Hadrian and even the Ottoman sultan Mehmed II
      were drawn here by that dream. In 1462 Sultan Mehmed travelled to
      Canakkale to find the ancient Ilios, since he believed that by his
      conquest of Istanbul he had avenged the Trojans. But the story does
      not end there. Throughout the middle ages and the modern period many
      travellers, historians and adventurers came in search of this lost
      land, so keeping the dream of Troy constantly alive in people's minds.

      Eventually, the first official excavation at Hisarlik was launched by
      Heinrich Schliemann in 1871, and finally the legend became fact when
      he discovered what was certainly the remains of Troy.

      The latest excavations at Troy began in 1988 by a team of
      archaeologists from Germany's Tubingen University under Professor Dr
      Manfred Korfmann. These have opened a new window onto Troy and its
      legend.

      The journey of exploration through legend and fact to uncover the
      secrets of Troy is still not at an end, but it is now being documented
      by a remarkable exhibition at the Archaologisches Landesmuseum in
      Stuttgart entitled Troy, Legend and Fact. The most extraordinary
      finding revealed by the sections of the exhibition devoted to
      archaeological excavations at Troy is that this was an Anatolian
      culture. For thousands of years Troy has been seen as belonging to
      Greek Mycenaean culture, and as the origin of today's European
      cultures. Yet Korfmann and his team now have evidence that Troy was
      the city of Wilusa or (W)ilios mentioned in Hittite official
      correspondence as a city of the Luwians, an Anatolian people. Regarded
      as one of the foremost archaeological discoveries of the 20th century,
      this evidence is a bronze seal bearing a Luwian hieroglyphic
      inscription, which is regarded as a find of the utmost importance in
      throwing light on relations between Anatolia and Troy.

      The theory that the Trojans might have been Anatolian gained weight
      with the discovery of a lower city dating from the 17th-13th centuries
      BC and defined as High Trojan Culture. This town, divided into levels
      VI and VIIa, corresponded to Homer's Troy, and is characterised by
      finds such as the anthropomorphic vessels and drinking cups known as
      depas unique to Anatolian cultures. Further confirmation has been the
      fact that the architecture of buildings and walls differs
      significantly from that of the Aegean region and Greece.

      Other evidence supporting the theory that Troy lay within an area
      dominated by Luwian or Hittite-Luwian language and culture include a
      bronze figurine thought to represent a god of Anatolian and eastern
      origin; cremation burials in urns in accordance with Anatolian
      tradition; pillars and steles which were a frequent feature of the
      Hittite and subsequent periods; and a sacred building known as a
      megaron.

      Striking resemblances between descriptions of Troy in the Iliad and
      the findings of excavations have undermined the view that Homer's
      account was fictional. In particular, layers revealing destruction by
      fire at the end of levels VI and VIIa is evidence of a war lost by the
      inhabitants, and these layers correspond exactly to the late 13th
      century BC, when the Trojan War described by Homer is thought to have
      taken place. Further evidence that the war was lost is provided by
      skeletons abandoned without burial or only hastily buried at the scene
      of destruction; and abandoned catapults and sticks thrown down by
      people unable to defend their city.

      Schliemann, who first commenced excavations here in 1871, removed his
      finds to Europe between 1873 and 1890, some with permission and some
      smuggled (the A and L treasure troves). Today these objects are
      scattered throughout the world in over 45 museums, institutes and
      private collections.

      Professor Korfmann, who is one of the scientific advisers to the
      exhibition and took part in its planning, now has a new dream: to
      return the finds from Troy, a site belonging to the universal cultural
      heritage, to the land from which they came. But his first priority is
      to establish the planned museum at the site.

      * Nermin Baycin is an archaeologist.
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