Eight reasons why today’s Troy at Hisarlik is on the wrong site
Here are eight good arguments against Troy being on the site at Hisarlik, near Cannakale in western Turkey.
1. Hisarlik is perched on the edge of a plateau directly above a cold water spring, overlooking the plain of the Mendere river. Unlike almost all important cities in the Late Bronze Age, the site has no natural acropolis. Yet Troy had a magnificent and spacious acropolis, described as very steep, or ‘beetling’.
2. If an army came by ship to capture Hisarlik, it would probably first establish itself on the plateau at the same level as Hisarlik, and then attack, aiming to push the Trojans over the ridge and down the steep hillside to the plain below. There is no hint in the Iliad of such a strategy being even considered.
3. The so-called walled ‘citadel’ is much too small to be the walled acropolis of Ilios. Also, the nature and extent of the so-called ‘lower town’ at the time of the Trojan War has been much disputed.
4. The site at Hisarlik was first settled perhaps a thousand years before the time of the Trojan War, and the settlement layer most widely accepted as Priam’s city was Troy level 6. This settlement apparently fell when its walls collapsed as the result of an earthquake, with no sign of a burnt layer. The latest view from the site suggests that Priam’s city was settlement level 7a, which ended by fire, and according to Blegen lasted ‘half a century at most.’ Neither levels 6h or 7a agree with the Iliad, which suggests that Troy was established only about 5 generations before the Trojan War, and was destroyed by fire and war.
5. For over 2,000 years it was assumed that the Greek army had their camp beside their ships at the mouth of the Mendere, and the Trojan War was fought on the plain between there and Hisarlik. However, between 1980 and 1982, a large bay was found to have existed at the river mouth in Trojan times. Troy at Hisarlik was therefore effectively a coastal fortress, roughly 1km. from the shore of the bay. Troy in the Iliad was described as far from the Greek camp, and the Skamander and Simois flowed in the plain between the two.
6. With Troy close to the beach, there is no room for the plain of Troy between it and the Greek camp beside their ships. This means that the story of the Iliad, of battles surging too and fro across the great plain, could not have taken place at Hisarlik. The absence of this plain therefore makes a mockery of this great epic poem.
7. If Hisarlik was to remain acceptable as Troy, a new site for the Greek camp and the Trojan battlefield had to be found. An earlier suggestion that this might have been at Besik Bay was therefore explored and adopted. While this immediately reinstated the existence of a possible plain of Troy, it failed, like its predecessor, to match the descriptions of the plain in the Iliad.
8. The Trojans, according to Herodotus, were also known as ‘Teucrians’. This was probably the eponymous name for the citizens of Teuthrania. The legends tell us that Trojans (or Teucrians) built Troy and Ilios to give better protection to the people living on the plain. Teuthrania, known from historical times, was in Mysia, in the Kaikos valley not far from Pergamon. However, if Troy was at Hisarlik in the Mendere valley, Teuthrania should have been in the same valley, not in Mysia.
Posted by P J Crowe