Show Summary Details

Page of

Printed from Oxford Classical Dictionary. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a single article for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 14 May 2021


  • Carl W. Blegen
  •  and D. F. Easton

Troy lies in north-west Asia Minor 5 km. from the Hellespont. The site consists of a mound with c. 25 m. of deposits and a 1 km. sq. skirt to the south. It was noted by F. Kauffer (1793), identified as classical Ilion by E. D. Clarke (1810) and as Homeric Troy by C. Maclaren (1820). Soundings by Frank Calvert (1863, 1865) revealed prehistoric strata. H. Schliemann excavated much of the mound (1870–90), further excavations being by W. Dörpfeld (1893–94), C. W. Blegen (1932–38), M. O. Korfmann (1988–2006) with C. B. Rose, and since 2006 by E. Pernicka.

The site was occupied from c. 2900 bce to the 6th cent. ce. The numerous phases are conventionally, but variously, grouped into nine bands. As now defined, I–III (from c. 2900 bce) represent the early bronze age, IV–V (from c.2000?) probably belong in Anatolian terms to the middle bronze age, VI–VIIa (from c.1750) are mainly late bronze age, VIIb–VIII (from c.1180) span early iron age to hellenistic periods, IX (85 bce to 6th cent. ce) is Roman.

The settlement was founded on a limestone spur with a marine bay to the north, since silted up, which could be exploited for fish and seafood and which offered a harbour at a strategic point. Throughout I–VIIa a citadel stood on the highest point, fortified by a succession of stone walls punctuated by gates and towers, with superstructures of mudbrick and timber.

Troy I originated within a Thracian-Anatolian cultural continuum but during the 3rd millennium influences from Greece, central and southern Anatolia and Syria also made themselves felt. Troy II provides the clearest picture of Troy in the early bronze age. Two massive gates led into the citadel, one approached by a paved ramp. Within lay (in Middle II) a colonnaded courtyard containing five parallel megarons, one more than 40 m. long. After a fire the citadel was filled (in Late II) with densely built insulae separated by narrow streets—a style continuing into Troy III and with some variation into IV and V as well. Metalworking—probably secondary smithing—was practised on the site. Gold, copper and silver were accessible in north-west Anatolia; from Troy II tin was imported from elsewhere, perhaps central Asia. Schliemann found sixteen hoards (‘treasures’) of weapons, tools, vessels and jewellery in gold, silver, bronze and copper. Their authenticity has been questioned, but subsequent discoveries from both Troy and the north-east Aegean support their general reliability. The potter's wheel was introduced early in Troy II. Troy IV and V are less well known and appear less wealthy.

Prosperity returned in VI–VIIa, as the monumental architecture shows. Three successive citadel walls of increasing magnificence survive, characterized by shallow vertical offsets and gates on west, south and east sides. A north-east bastion and two towers (VIh and ‘VI'i) were added to the circuit in phases VIg, VIh and VIIa respectively. Inside the citadel the ground rose in concentric terraces. Spacious free-standing houses stood on the lower terraces, more densely in VIIa than in VI. A royal palace may have stood on the summit, but no trace survives because the topmost deposits were removed in the late 3rd cent. bce to make way for a Sanctuary of Athena. Troy VI introduced a distinctive ‘Grey Minyan’ pottery. Its similarity to Middle Helladic products, along with the monumental architecture and the appearance of equids, caused Blegen to posit the arrival of Greeks at the beginning of VI. The theory is now generally discredited, in part because the grey fabric is seen to have local antecedents. Mycenaean-style pottery was present in VI–VIIa, most of it locally made, and is useful for dating. Re-assessment by P. A. Mountjoy (Studia Troica9) indicates that Troy VI ended during LH IIIa/b transitional (c.1330), and that VIIa ended during LH IIIb (c.1180). Both events were violent and left fallen masonry (especially in VI) and signs of fire (especially in VIIa). Blegen attributed the earlier destruction to an earthquake and the later to human agency, a view widely accepted.

These two destructions are the best archaeological points for locating a ‘Homeric’ Trojan War. The first falls within a period when Mycenaeans were attempting to expand into western Anatolia; the second coincides with the advance of Sea Peoples through the east Mediterranean, a movement in which Mycenaeans were probably involved. In either circumstance an attack by some Mycenaeans on Troy could be imagined. Whether this could ever have been on the scale or in the manner depicted by Greek epic is doubtful.

The picture of bronze age Troy has been revolutionized by Korfmann's excavations which have revealed a bronze age lower town to the south of the citadel. Troy thus conforms to the normal pattern of an ancient near eastern city. The lower town was occupied from at least Troy II, but the picture is clearest for VI–VII. 450 m. to the south of the citadel are traces of a footing-trench from a probable palisade and gate. Outside it lie two ditches, the inner dating to VI and the outer to VIIa. The Troy VI ditch has been traced around most of the lower town, is interrupted by several crossing-points, and is almost certainly defensive. Buildings or other signs of occupation have been uncovered within wherever excavations have been made. A Troy VI cemetery discovered by Blegen lies just outside. A remarkable water-mine was dug into bedrock below the lower town; analysis of the earliest sinter shows it to date to Troy II.

After the destruction of VIIa, occupation continued on and around the citadel in simpler houses, but with new influences from areas west of the Black Sea visible in the pottery. Since an unbroken, and in some respects new, development has now been established from this period until the arrival of Greek colonists in the 8th cent. (Troy VIII), VIIb may now be seen as marking the beginning of the Iron Age.


  • H. Schliemann, Troy and Its Remains (1875).
  • H. Schliemann, Ilios (1880).
  • H. Schliemann, Troja (1884).
  • W. Dörpfeld, Troja und Ilion (1902).
  • C. W. Blegen and others, Troy I-IV (1950-58).
  • C. W. Blegen, Troy and the Trojans (1963).

Preliminary reports and studies from the new excavations in Studia Troica (1990 onwards.Find it in your libraryGoogle PreviewWorldCat

  • M. Korfmann (ed.), Troia—Traum und Wirklichkeit (2004).
  • M. Korfmann (ed.), Troia—Archäologie eines Siedlungshügels und seiner Landschaft (2006).
  • G. A. Wagner and others, The Troad—Scientific Approaches (2003).
  • M. H. Hansen and T. H. Nielsen (eds.), An Inventory of Archaic and Classical Poleis (2004), no. 779, ‘Ilion’.