(Ἴλιος). The scene of the Iliad is laid before the walls of Ilios or Troy, described by the poet as a populous and warlike city, mistress of the Troad, or northwest promontory of Asia Minor, and ruled by King Priam. In the Greek myths Ilios was founded by Ilus, son of Tros and greatgrandson of Dardanus. In the reign of Laomedon, son of Ilus, the city was fortified with huge walls by Poseidon and Apollo; but as Laomedon refused to pay the price agreed upon for this service, he incurred the hostility of his mighty assistants. Laomedon was succeeded by his son Podarces, or Priam, who became a great monarch, with fifty sons, including Hector and Paris, and twelve daughters. Paris, by the help of Aphrodit, carried off Helen, wife of Menelas, king of Sparta; and to avenge this insult an army of Achaeans besieged the city for ten years, and finally captured and destroyed it. For a fuller account of the mythical history of Troy, see Dardanus; Ilus; Laomedon; Paris; Trojan War.
It is impossible to determine how much, if any, of historical truth is contained in these legends, and particularly in the Homeric account of the Trojan War. But recent excavations have done much to show that the siege of Troy was not all a myth. Where the ancient city stood, or where the poet conceived that it stood, has been the subject of endless discussion. A brief history of this controversy will be the best introduction to an account of the present state of the question.
Long after the assumed date of the fall of Troy, but before the Persian wars, the Greek town of (Novum) Ilium was founded at the low mound of Hissarlik (pl. i.), nearly four miles from the Hellespont at Sigum and about three miles from the nearest point on the coast. Its inhabitants asserted that the city of Priam had never been completely destroyed and that their own town was the immediate successor of Homeric Ilios. This claim seems to have been generally allowed. Hellancus expressly approved it, and Herodotus describes, without dissent, the visit of Xerxes to the spot, to which he was drawn by its legendary fame. The Spartan admiral Mindarus, during the Peloponnesian War, and Alexander the Great, almost a century later, each offered sacrifice to the Ilian Athen, in recognition of the ancient glory of the town. But in the second century B.C. Demetrius of Scepsis advanced the theory that Homeric Troy could not have stood on the site of (Novum) Ilium. His chief reasons were: (1) that the plain between Ilium and the sea was an alluvial deposit, and must have been far too small, in the days of Homer, for the mighty combats described in the Iliad;
(2) the flight of Hector from Achilles three times around the walls of the city could not have taken place at the site of Ilium, for the mound on which the latter stands (the modern Hissarlik) was not an isolated hill, but a spur from Mount Ida, so that at one point the runners would have had to ascend a considerable incline. Demetrius would look for ancient Ilios apparently at a site now called Hana-tepeh, opposite Bunrbashi (pl. i.). In these opinions he was followed by Strabo, our chief authority for the geography of the Troad; and most modern scholars, until recent years, including such men as Welcker, Kiepert, Von Moltke, E. Curtius, and Jebb, have agreed with them. It has been the accepted belief that it was impossible to separate truth from fiction in the Iliad, and that we must not therefore hope to find anywhere a site exactly corresponding to the poet's description. According to this modern view, the ancient capital of the Troad was situated on a high hill called Bali Dagh, much farther inland than Hissarlik, and this mountain fortress was transformed, by the poet's imaginaton, into a great citythe capital of a mighty empire. George Grote almost alone, with his usual perspicacity, maintained that there was every reason for presuming that the Ilium visited by Xerxes and Alexander was the holy Ilium present to the mind of Homer; and the excavations of the last two decades have rendered it quite certain that he was right in his adherence to the general opinion of antiquity.
But before giving an account of these excavations, it may be well to glance at some of the circumstances which seem to favor the Hissarlik site. Its distance from the coast is such as to agree with the Homeric conception of the rapid ebb and flow of the tide of battle between the ships and the city walls, and the frequent and speedy journeys of messengers, and king Priam himself. The situation on the level plain, but with the low mound of from fifty to sixty-five feet in height for the citadel, is more favourable for a great and wealthy city than the almost inaccessible steep of Bali Dagh; while the latter is too far from the coast (over ten miles) to meet the conditions mentioned above. Professor Virchow has shown that the river Scamander (Mender), which now discharges near Cape Sigum, must formerly have followed the course of the present KalifatliAsmak, farther north, thus bringing it between the city and the ships, and providing for its union with the Simois (Dumbrek-su); and so removing all objection to the Hissarlik site on this score. The view of Demetrius, that the plain is an alluvial deposit (see above), is clearly founded on Herodotus ii. 11, where it is stated that the plain was originally a bay. But Herodotus manifestly did not think that the plain lay under water in the Trojan period, for he could not, in that case, have believed in the identity of Troy and Ilium, as his recital of the visit of Xerxes would seem to indicate [p. 867] that he did. The statement, if true, must refer to some remote period of antiquity, for Scylax ( Peripl.94) makes the distance of Ilium from the sea almost precisely the same as the distance from Hissarlik to-day, showing that the alluvial deposit has not materially extended the plain in the last 2000 years, at least. The objection to the Hissarlik site, based upon the flight of Hector [figure in text: Map of the Troad.] around the walls, amounts to nothing, since this whole story is manifestly a poetic exaggeration, like the battle of Achilles with the Scamander; and we need not expect to find the exact spot where such fictitious and impossible occurrences took place. But if importance is attached to this point, it may be added that recent excavations prove that this ridge was originally about forty feet lower than at present, as it was gradually raised by the clearing away of debris from the citadel mound. At its former insignificant height it might easily have been surmounted by the two stout warriors. It may be added that the ruins on the Bali Dagh consist of nothing more than the remains of a small circuit wall, indicating that we have to do with an unimportant mountain fortress, which may have commanded the Scamander gorgea fortress which could never have been described as a great and populous city on the plain (Iliad, xx. 217).
It would thus appear that on topographical grounds alone the question, though a difficult one, might fairly be decided in favour of the Hissarlik site. It remains to show how recent discoveries have converted this probability into a practical certainty. In 1870 Dr. Heinrich Schliemann (q.v.), a retired German merchant and enthusiastic archologist, began his excavations at Hissarlik. These excavations were continued, with various interruptions, until his death in 1890. During their progress, the scholarly world, incredulous at first, gradually came more and more to the belief that the Homeric Ilios had actually been found. After 1882 Schliemann had the coperation of Dr. W. Drpfeld, afterwards secretary of the German Archological Institute at Athens, whose adhesion added much to the weight of authority in favour of Schliemann's views. The remains which have been unearthed were found in no less than seven different layers, of which the uppermost contained what could be positively identified as ruins of the Hellenistic and Roman city of Ilium. The four layers below this contained nothing but traces of small and mean buildings of a village character. It was in the two lowest layers that the most interesting discoveries were made. The lowest settlement of all was built upon the solid rock, and the remains consisted of fortification walls eight feet thick, built of rough limestone (pl. ii. fa, fb, fc), with house walls (f f f), two to three feet in thickness, of small stones cemented with clay. Utensils were found, very rarely of metal, but usually of stone, with vases of black baked clay. The potter's wheel was apparently known to the inhabitants of this settlement, but was not so often employed as later. The debris of this first city, which Schliemann decided to be pre-Homeric, is about eight feet in depth. Above this was a layer of earth nearly two feet in thickness, showing a long period of desertion, and over this the great layer of debris, in which were found the remains of the second city, now generally believed to be Homeric Ilios.
Here the great citadel walls (c, b) were discovered. [p. 868] These consisted of a stone substructure 13 feet wide at the top, which is level, the depth varying according to the irregularities of the surface below. On this was built a wall of brick, from 11 to 13 feet in thickness, and rising originally, as well as can be estimated, to a height of 13 feet. These bricks are sundried, and measure 18X9X3 1/2 inches. In the walls were found long, hollow channels, one foot square, which Dr. Drpfeld first considered to have been made for the purpose of conducting heat to bake the bricks after the wall had been built. But this theory has now been abandoned, and it is generally believed that the marks of heat about these channels were caused, at the time of the destruction of the city, by the burning of beams which had been imbedded in the walls to give them [figure in text: Plan of the Acropolis of the Second Ilios. (Schuchhardt.)] stronger cohesion. These circuit walls seem to have formed an equilateral of about 165 feet on each side, with projecting bastions at the corners. The walls are pierced by several gates, of which the central one on the south side is the oldest (NF). This consists of a tower 130 feet long by 59 feet broad, and projecting 59 feet beyond the wall. Through this tower the road to the citadel passed, and by means of the projecting wing was protected all the way from the foot of the acropolis hill. The side walls of this passage were buttressed with thick wooden braces, which were probably connected at the top, thus forming a continuous flat roof over the whole gateway. Such a roofed gate we may suppose the poet to have had in mind in Iliad, iii. 145, when he describes the elders as sitting on the Scaean gates. The other two gates (FM, OX) cannot be described for lack of space.
In the centre of the citadel lies the building, which is generally considered to be the palace. The ruins consist of a gateway (C), opening upon the courtyard, beyond which stand the chief apartments of the palace, the megaron or men's apartment on the left (A) and the women's apartments on the right (B). The megaron is 66 feet in depth, with an entrance hall 37 feet square in front of it, and in its centre are slight remains of a large round hearth, which thus occupied the central point of the whole palace, as described in the Iliad and Odyssey ( Od.xiv. 158).
The women's apartment is considerably smaller, consisting of a series of three rooms 15 feet wide and 20, 24, and 29 feet long respectively.
But besides these remains of walls and buildings, numerous articles of gold and silver were found by Dr. Schliemann, showing conclusively that the ruins were those of a prosperous and wealthy city. In May, 1873, the so-called great treasure was found buried within the fortification wall, near the southwestern gate (F). This consisted of a great variety of articles, packed into one another in the form of a rectangular mass, apparently placed originally in a wooden chest, and stored for safe keeping in a hollow in the wall. [p. 869]
The most valuable were two large diadems of gold, formed of a number of small pendant chains of beautiful workmanship. Gold earrings were found in large numbers, as well as cups, vases, bracelets, and other ornaments of gold or silver, with spear-heads, battle-axes, and knife blades, and numerous other articles of various kinds.
Space will not allow a description of the remains found in the five upper layers, which are not materially different from those of the same period elsewhere. But in general it may be said that these excavations show that the hill of Hissarlik was inhabited, without serious interruption, from the late Graeco-Roman period back to a time before the dawn of history. At a date so early that we cannot estimate it even approximately the hill was covered with fortifications and palaces. Captain E. Btticher, to be sure, has attempted to prove that the so-called citadel is nothing but a huge fire-necropolis, and even went so far as to accuse Schliemann of ill faith in describing what he found. But a conference of scholars, which met at Hissarlik in March, 1890, at Schliemann's invitation, decided: (1) that the site was well suited for a fortress;
(2) that traces of fortifications of different epochs can be seen there;
(3) that the corridors of Btticher did not exist;
(4) that the hill did not consist of a series of artificial terraces, each smaller than the one below. On the contrary each layer occupies more space than the one below it (showing the gradual extension by the accumulation of debris);
(5) that the ruins in the second layer resemble those at Tiryns and Mycenae;
(6) that the numerous upright jars which were found contained grain and not human bones;
(7) that no traces were found of the burning of corpses. This decision overthrew the theory of Btticher (who was indeed compelled to withdraw his accusation of bad faith), and went far to satisfy scholars that Schliemann's discoveries have actually revealed the site of Homeric Ilios.
Bibliography.Grote's History of Greece, pt. i. ch. xv.; Le Chevalier, Voyage de la Troad (Paris, 1802); Schliemann's Troy (1875), Ilios (1880), Troja (1884); Forchhammer, Erklrung der Ilias auf Grund der Eigenthmlichkeiten der troischen Ebene (Kiel, 1884); Btticher, La Troie de Schliemann une Ncropole Incinration; Le Museon (Louvain), viii. i. pp. 101-131; N. 2, pp. 226-246; Schuchhardt, Schliemann's Investigations, translated by Eugnie Sellers (London and New York, 1891); Georges Perrot, Les Fouilles de Schliemann Troie, Journal des Savants (Paris, June, August, October, December, 1891).