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 Where Troy Once Stood

 

Iman Jacob Wilkens

'WHERE TROY ONCE STOOD'

The Mystery of Homer's Iliad and Odyssey Revealed

 

Revision of 1990/1 editions by
Random Century and St Martin's Press

New text for Part II, Chapter 1, including the
titlepage and two pages of keys to Maps 2 and 3.

© Iman Jacob Wilkens

The Iliad is quoted in
the authoritative translation of
A.T. Murray
Loeb Classical Library

NOT for any form of reproduction or transmission including the Internet
without prior written approval from the author Iman Jacob Wilkens

 

 

Part II

The World of

the Iliad

 

Be fire with fire;

threaten the threatener,

and outface the brow of bragging horror.

SHAKESPEARE

 

 

[ 'Where Troy Once Stood' by I.Wilkens, revised edition; Part II, Chapter 1; page 1 of 22 ]

Troy in England

Homer's Troy or Ilion

The first part of this book led to the conclusion that the Trojan War was certainly not fought in the small plain near Hissarlik in Turkey and that the search of Homeric Troy in Turkey is a blind alley. At the same time many reasons were given for seeking Troy in a country with a temperate climate, and, because of the mention of tides, bordering on the Atlantic. Moreover, since the customs described in the Iliad are typically Celtic, and since Troy's enemies, alternatively called Achaeans, Argives or Danaans, were definitely not ‘Greeks' (as they are unfortunately called in some translations), the search of Troy should focus on regions in western Europe formerly inhabited by Celts. However, these Celts were not, as explained elsewhere in this book, the peoples now living on the western fringes of Europe, but their conquerors originating from the Continent (much like the French owe their name to the Franks, a teutonic people that conquered Gaul in the fifth century AD).

If not for the almost religious belief that Homeric Troy was situated in Turkey, because of its proximity to the Hellespont, Lesbos, Tenedos and Samothrace, and of course also because the story was passed on in ancient Greek, a systematic search for the legendary city might begin by listing the features of the Troad as described in the Iliad (see below). Few of Homer's descriptions bear even the vaguest resemblance to the Hissarlik region, and yet rather than search elsewhere for a region that actually does fit the descriptions, scholars have ascribed the mismatch to the poet's fantasy and his utter ignorance of geography.

Although it is well-known that European prehistory has known migrations over great distances, it was never suspected that the origin of the epics should be sought with the Pelasgians, who, according to the Greek historian Herodotus (5th century BC), were a non-Greek people who had founded Athens and given new geographical names to many places in Greece -which they called Pelasgia- and around the Mediterranean1. As their Greek name ‘pelasgoi' indicates2, the Pelasgians must have been the mysterious ‘Sea Peoples' who were the terror of the Mediterranean during the second millenium BC. According to the Egyptians they came from the Great Green Sea and visited their country on an embassy in 1341 BC, followed by several attacks in the 13th century. Although the Sea Peoples operated from bases in the Mediterranean, it turns out that they originated from various coastal regions in Western Europe, one of which fits all of Homer's descriptions of Troy and the Troad, which are the following (with references to the Iliad in brackets):

 

  1. The long-haired, bright-eyed Achaeans sail in their high-beaked ships to Troy over a sea which is described as winedark (e.g. II,613), grey (e.g. IV,248), misty (XXIII,744) or wide (VI,291) and as a tidal ocean (XVIII,399) which is boundless (XXIV, 545), but never as ‘blue' which would be the more obvious adjective for the Aegean Sea;
  2. The sea near Troy is called Oceanus (III,5) or Hellespont (Greek for ‘Helle Sea'; VII,86) and once Thracian Sea (Greek for ‘Sea of the Courageous';XXIII,230);

  3. The Troad has a rather temperate oceanic climate (see Part I, Chapter 4);
  4. There is a bay wide enough to host an armada (XIV,33) of 1186 ships (II, 494-759);
  5. There is a long and very wide sandy beach where the ships are drawn up in rows because of their great number (XIV,35);
  6. The enemy base near the seashore was very large (‘the wide camp of the Achaeans', e.g. I,384 and XXIV,199);

 

[ 'Where Troy Once Stood' by I.Wilkens, revised edition; Part II, Chapter 1; page 2 of 22 ]

  1. Achilles could see the rising sun shine over both the sea and the shore near his barracks (XXIV,12);
  2. The bay opens up to the north, as the ships on the beach are exposed to the strong Northwind (XIV, 394) and to the dreaded Northwestern gales (IX,4);
  3. The plain between Troy and the beach is very wide, judging not only by the long pursuits with horse-drawn war chariots but also by the long way King Priam had to go from Troy to the Achaean camp (XXIV,349-351);

  4. The ‘broad land Troy' (XXIV,494) is extensive enough to include the twenty-three towns sacked by Achilles (IX,329);

  5. The Trojan plain is exceptionally fertile (II,467-472; XII,313; XVIII,67);

  6. The country is not only rich in horses (XX,221) but there are also cattle, sheep, swine and goats (e.g.XXIII,30);

  7. The Ida woods with their many springs (VIII,47) and oak forests (XXIII,117) are at some distance from Troy (XXIV,663);

  8. Nine rivers, mentioned by name, flow through the Trojan plain, rising in the region's hills (XII,20);

  9. Simultaneous flooding by eight of these rivers swept away the Achaean campwall after the war (XII,18);
  10. The ninth river, the Satnioïs, apparently did not contribute to the wall's destruction (VI,34) and therefore must have had a separate flood plain;

  11. Despite their great number, none of these rivers seems to flow across the battlefield, as Trojan horses run, after the death of their charioteers, on their own from the Achaean camp back to Troy (XI,159);

  12. The river Simoïs flows into the Scamander (V,775);

  13. The river Scamander, borders the battlefield to the west (XI,497);

  14. The burial mound of King Ilus, an ancestor of King Priam, was situated near the right bank of the Scamander, at some distance from Troy (XXIV,349);

  15. Near Ilus' barrow, there was a ford in the river Scamander on the way to the Achaean camp (XXIV,692);

  16. Troy was built on a height (XV,71) wide enough for a ‘big city' (Greek: mega astu, II,332) with ‘wide streets' (Greek: euru-aguia, II,329);
  17. Troy is not situated on a river, as one can go around its walls without crossing any watercourse (XXII,165);

  18. The city had not stone, but earthen walls (XX,145) which merely were reinforced with stones (XII,29) and timbers;

  19. Not far from the Scaean or ‘West' gates of the city are two springs (XXII,152), one hot, one cold (XXII,152);

  20. The waters of these springs flow into the Scamander (XXII,148);

  21. When Achilles pursues Hector on a ‘trackway' leading from the Scaean Gates to the springs, they pass by a hillock (XXII,145);

  22. Not far from Troy are marshes where horses graze (XX,221);

  23. The Trojans and their allies formed up in battle order on a mound in the plain some distance from the city (II,811).This mound, called Batieia (often translated as Thorn Hill), was the barrow of the amazon Myrina (II,813);

  24. This barrow had a view ‘on either side' of the plain (II,812), suggesting that it was situated on or near some kind of ridge or partition on the battlefield;

 

[ 'Where Troy Once Stood' by I.Wilkens, revised edition; Part II, Chapter 1; page 3 of 22 ]

  1. In the Greek version of the Iliad several times mention is made of wardykes in the plain between Troy and the Achaean camp (VIII,553;XI,160;XX,427);

  2. Zeus watched the battles from a height of Ida, the Gargarus (VIII,48);

  3. The Callicolone, the hill of the judgement of Paris, from where the wargod Ares followed the battles (XX,151), was situated on the river Simoïs (XX,53);

  4. Poseidon followed the events from the highest hill of Samothrace (XIII,12);

  5. A burial mound was built for Patroclus near the seashore (XXIII,164);

  6. Tenedos was an island near the Troad (I,38); 

  7. Samos and Imbros (which are not described as islands in the Greek version) were situated on either side of the bay where the Achaean camp was (XXIV,78);

  8. The Troad was situated on the Hellespont, between the island of Lesbos and the highlands of Phrygia (XXIV,544-545), discussed in Chapter 4;

  9. Troy had a large hinterland from where the Trojan's allies originated (II,803;X,417);

  10. The Achaeans and Trojans had the same language, but other languages were represented among the Trojan allies (II,804).

The Troad on the Ocean

As the Mediterranean Sea, was never called ‘Oceanus' by the Greeks, the Troad should be sought near the Atlantic Ocean which, because of its substantial tidal movements, was called the ‘backward-flowing Oceanus' (apsorro-os okeanos, XVIII,399, often translated incorrectly as ‘circling ocean'). The Greek poet Aeschylus (6th-5th century BC) mentioned surging tides also at Aulis, from where the Achaean invasion fleet departed (see Chapter 15: The fleet in Aulis, Denmark, and Explanatory Note 14: Iphigenia in Aulis). A logical candidate for the Troad is England, where the wide bay of the Wash is ideally suited to host a large fleet.

As early as 1879 the French-born Belgian lawyer Théophile Cailleux wrote that Troy was situated in East Anglia where he had noted two huge wardykes south of the Wash. Here, he identified the river Cam with the Iliad's Scamander and the river Great Ouse with Homer's Simoïs and deduced Troy's location on the heights outside Cambridge known as the Gog Magog Hills3.However, Cailleux did not continue his research as he was confronted with a major problem: if Troy were in England, where had all the 29 regiments of Achaeans, Argives and Danaans come from? (from Scandinavia to south Spain, see Chapters 5-10). And where was Mycenae, the capital of their Commander-in-Chief Agamemnon? (in France, see Chapter 11). Cailleux was on the right track but he had too few arguments for a break-through in conventional thinking. And to make matters worse, a Roman coin was found under one of the dykes, but that does not mean that no traces remain of the wardykes mentioned in the Iliad.

The Rivers of the Troad

As most of Europe's rivernames are very ancient, one might hope to find some resemblance between the rivernames of Homer's Troad and those of Cambridgeshire, if Troy actually was in England as Cailleux believed. Homer mentions nine rivers in the Trojan plain, and many others elsewhere in the Troad but until now it was always thought that these names were the fruit of the poet's imagination, in particular because there are far too many of them for the small plain of Hissarlik. This might be the reason why E. Zangger, in search of Atlantis in Turkey, and naturally assuming that Troy - which is linked to Atlantis in mythology – was Hissarlik, omitted all rivernames from the following citation from the Iliad without even informing the reader of this omission4. Yet it is precisely these quaint prehistoric river names

 

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