Archaeological Site of Troy (1998)

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Troy, with its 4,000 years of history, is one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world. The first excavations at the site were undertaken by the famous archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann in 1870. In scientific terms, its extensive remains are the most significant demonstration of the first contact between the civilizations of Anatolia and the Mediterranean world. Moreover, the siege of Troy by Spartan and Achaean warriors from Greece in the 13th or 12th century B.C., immortalized by Homer in the Iliad, has inspired great creative artists throughout the world ever since. 

The Iliad is set in the final year of the Trojan War, which forms the background for its central plot, the story of the wrath of the Greek hero Achilles.  

Insulted by his commander in chief Agamemnon, the young warrior Achilles withdraws from the war, leaving his fellow Greeks to suffer terrible defeats at the hands of the Trojans. The Greek army had besieged the city of Troy for ten years in an attempt to liberate the Beautiful Helena, who had been abducted by Prince Paris, son of King Priam. 

  • Turkey 1956. Theater in Troy. 

Turkey 1956. Theater in Troy.

Turkey 1956. Trojan Vase.

Pretending to stop the siege, the Greeks sent a big wooden horse as an atonement to Pallas Athene, and at the same time let their fleet sail away from Troy. 

But the belly of the Trojan Horse was hollow and contained some of the best Greek warriors.  When the citizens of Troy had dragged the huge wooden horse behind the city walls, the warriors in the horse's belly climbed out in the darkness of the night, and the Greek fleet returned.  The city of Troy fell, King Priam was assassinated, and the Greeks had their revenge.  Since that time the Trojan Horse has been a symbol of cunning and malice. 

  • Turkey 1956. Trojan Vase. 

The below beautiful set of stamps, issued 1983 by Greece, illustrate major events from the Iliad and the Odyssey. 

Greece 1983. Archaic Art. Abduction of Helena by Prince Paris (ancient pottery). Greece 1983. Archaic Art. The Trojan Horse (wood carving).

Greece 1983. Archaic Art. Battle between Ajax and Hector (a dish).

Greece 1983. Archaic Art. Achilles.

The Odyssey describes the return of the Greek hero Odysseus from the Trojan War.  The opening scenes depict the disorder that has arisen in Odysseus' household during his long absence: A band of suitors is devouring his property as they woo his wife Penelope.  The focus then shifts to Odysseus himself.  

Greece 1983. Archaic Art. King Priam requesting the body of Hector (pottery). Greece 1983. Archaic Art. Ulysses escaping from Polyphemus' cave. Greece 1983. Archaic Art. Hector receiving arms from his parents (vase). Greece 1983. Archaic Art. Heroes of the Iliad, painted on a cup.

The epic tells of his ten years of travelling, during which he has to face such dangers as the man-eating giant Polyphemus and such subtler threats as the goddess Calypso, who offers him immortality if he will abandon his quest for home. 

The second half of the poem begins with Ulysses' arrival at his home island of Ithaca. Here, exercising infinite patience and self-control, Odysseus tests the loyalty of his servants, plots and carries out a bloody revenge on Penelope's suitors, and is reunited with his son, his wife, and his aged father.  

Greece 1983. Archaic Art. Ulysses and Sirens.

Greece 1983. Archaic Art. Ulysses meeting Nausicaa.

Greece 1983. Archaic Art. Odysseus slaying suitors.

Greece 1983. Archaic Art. Blinding of Polyphemus.

Greece 1983. Archaic Art. Achilles throwing dice with Ajax (ancient jar). Greece 1983. Archaic Art. Bust of Homer. Greece 1983. Archaic Art. Deification of Homer.

The Greek stamps on this page form a complete set, Scott # 1472-1486, all commercially used.  

Troy (Asia Minor), also Ilium (ancient Ilion), famous city of Greek legend, on the northwestern corner of Asia Minor, in present-day Turkey. The legendary founder of the city was Ilus, the son of Tros, from whom the name Troy was derived. The son and successor of Ilus was Laomedon, who was slain by the hero Hercules, when Hercules captured the city. It was during the reign of Laomedon's son Priam that the famous Trojan War occurred, which resulted in the capture and destruction of the city. 

The Troy that appears in the Homeric poems was long regarded as a purely legendary city, but in 1870 the German archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann began excavations that unearthed the actual stone walls and battlements of an ancient city on the mound called Hissarlik (“Place of Fortresses”), about 6.5 km (about 4 mi) from the Aegean Sea and equidistant from the Dardanelles. Schliemann's excavations were continued after his death by his assistant, Wilhelm Dörpfeld, whose work in 1893 and 1894 threw new and important light on Schliemann's discoveries. Between 1932 and 1938 new excavations were carried on at the site by the University of Cincinnati, under the direction of the American archaeologist Carl Blegen. On the mound of Hissarlik, the following successive settlements have been determined: Troy I, an early settlement with a wall built of small stones and clay, its date being perhaps about 3000 bc; Troy II, a prehistoric fortress, with strong ramparts, a palace, and houses, dating from the 3rd millennium bc; Troy III, IV, and V, prehistoric villages successively built on the debris of Troy II during the period from 2300 to 2000 bc; Troy VI, a fortress, including a larger area than any of the preceding settlements, with huge walls, towers, gates, and houses dating from 1900 to 1300 bc or later; Troy VIIA, a reconstruction of Troy VI, built in the later part of this period after the city had been destroyed by an earthquake; Troy VIIB and VIII, Greek villages, of simple stone houses, dating from about 1100 bc to the 1st century bc, and Troy IX, the acropolis of the Greco-Roman city of Ilion, or New Ilion, with a temple of Athena, public buildings, and a large theater, and existing from the 1st century bc to about ad 500.

Schliemann discovered the first five settlements and identified Troy II with the Homeric Troy. Dörpfeld's discoveries, confirmed by Blegen, proved that the Homeric Troy must be identified with Troy VIIA, which was destroyed by fire about the traditional date of the Trojan War. 

Sources and links:

Other World Heritage Sites in Turkey (on this site). Inactive links are not described on stamps. Please refer to the UNESCO-listing, section Turkey for further information about the individual properties.  

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Revised 21 jul 2006  
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