This stems from a discussion on the open thread last night and I was asked to expand so here we go. The location of the ancient city of Troy was the topic. I mentioned that I rejected the current historically accepted location, talked about alternate theories that exist, and believed that two personal theories seemed feasible. Here is the breakdown.
The current accepted location is Hisarlik, Turkey – a city located near the entrance to the Black Sea. Trojan allies are typically coastal cities in Anatolia and a handful of places north of Greece. Some alternate locations – most notably Pergamum – are sites situated on the coast of Anatolia (Turkey). Here is my issue – it is two fold. First, without going into the multiple geographical errors, Homer consistently talks about a huge plain and multiple rivers. Anatolia, even taking into account how the coastline changes over time, has no place that fits that description. So either Homer is incredibly wrong about the size of the battle – other ancient battles feature large numbers – or he has the wrong location. Second, what reason would most of Greece go to war with a small city in northwest Anatolia. The Greeks were not one army but a collection of armies – their leader was more the chairman of the board. Now, Troy could have controlled passage to the Black Sea or the trade along the Anatolian coast but that would require a sizeable navy to do so. Homer writes nothing about naval battles. Hisarlik had no vital product needed all over Greece either. Nothing seems viable as a motive except the exaggerated role of Helen of Troy.
Three other theories have been proposed – Troy was in Scandinavia, in England, or in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The first two will be discussed here. These were attempts by authors to match the geography and weather of the Iliad to these sites. While making for a very interesting read, one has to buy into the idea that an entire culture migrated to Greece after the Trojan War – without any mythology or history that supports such a notion. Not impossible but that seems far-fetched.
My theories start with the genealogy of the Trojans – most of these are lists of kings so the ancients were pretty serious about family ties – these genealogies when put together can be sometimes contradictory but quite often enlightening. It could be that the Greeks at least believed that the Trojans were related to them – Areas of western and northern Greece were named after some ancestors, the “first” mother was associated with an area of Central Greece, and there is a direct relation between the Trojans and the Greek Hero Perseus and Heracles, as well as the king turned god Dionysius, which makes them relations to the famous Oedipus as well. The Greek king of kings – Agamemnon – is not blood related to any of those famous figures but married into the family much later. So the story goes – they left Thebes – the one city that could rival Mycenae at the time – and settled in the west and then the north when a latter descendant set out to found Troy.
Now – if any of that is plausible – and we refer back to Homer’s insistence of a huge plain and multiple rivers – where can further expansion take us. If they head south, they move right back into Greece. Heading east takes them thru Thrace – a Trojan ally and then across the sea. North takes them to a huge valley with multiple rivers – the area around the Danube River and west takes them to a huge valley with multiple rivers – the Po River Valley (near Venice, Italy). The Bosnia-Herzegovina site being theorized has a small valley but is halfway between the Greeks (where the bulk lived on the east coast) and the Po River Valley – an outpost perhaps if there is any substance behind the theory.
If the Trojans settled near the Danube, they would have had numerous encounters with the Celts – many scholars note similarities between Celtic customs and what is written about the Trojans. They could have controlled the trade all along the Danube – leading into Germany and a short excursion from the North and Baltic Sea. This would not require a large navy as they are settled inland on a river.
If the Trojans settled in the Po Valley, which is the area where piracy was rampant. Could they have been pirates that favored their Anatolian allies to the detriment of the Greeks? Pirates do not need a large navy to cause major issues. Hisarlik could have been a Trojan outpost. Interestingly enough, this is the area where Etruscan civilization was – which became known to history about two hundred years after the traditional fall of Troy. Are the Trojans and Etruscans one in the same?
There are lots of details that I skipped – not trying to write a book here. Thanks for reading.