The ancient city of Troy is the basis of Homer’s Iliad and site of the Trojan War. Troy lies in present-day western Turkey, at Canakale on the ancient Scamander River. Troy is known through the writings of the poet Homer and the stories of Heracles, Laomedon, King Priam, Hector, Paris, Achilles, the Trojan Horse, and Helen of Troy.
Virgil vividly discussed the Mycenean Greek sacking of Troy in his book the Aeneid. The events that Homer reported as taking place in Troy occurred around 1200 b.c.e., and he wrote and sang them around 800 b.c.e.
Troy was thought to be a mythical city in modern times, but archaeologists found proof of its existence. In the 19th century a succession of excavators determined that the ancient city consisted of nine layers, one on top of the other. Troy is known as the cultural center of classical antiquity.
After the Trojan War the city was abandoned for four centuries, until 700 b.c.e. when the Greeks settled there. The Romans captured Troy in 85 b.c.e., and the Roman general sulla attempted to restore the city. Excavators determined that Troy I to IV existed from 3000 to 1900 b.c.e., during the early Bronze Age.
At this time fortifications were built around the city. Troy VI existed from 1790 to 1250 b.c.e., and Troy VII existed during the middle to late Bronze Age. An extensive fire destroyed Troy V. Troy VI, an embellished reconstruction of Troy V, was destroyed by an earthquake.
Survivors built Troy VII around 1250 b.c.e., but they died in the Trojan War. This is confirmed by the existence of a mass grave containing the remains of a Greek army. Troy IX was a trading city during the reign of Roman emperor Augustus, however it waned in importance after the rise of Constantinople.
Concrete knowledge about Troy emerged with the excavations of Charles Mclaren, who found the ruins of Troy VII to Troy IX in 1822. German archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann, a wealthy retired businessman, illegally excavated the city three times from 1870 to 1890.
He ruined much of the site, taking most of the treasures he found, and was forced to pay a huge fine to the Turkish government for the theft. The treasure was displayed at the Museum of Prehistory and Early History in Berlin. At the end of World War II the Soviets claimed the treasure. Further excavation was done in 1893–94 and again in 1932 –38.
Sponsored scientific excavations took place after 1988 under the leadership of Manfred Korfmann, and no further levels were discovered. Two geologists, Jan Craft and John V. Luce, determined in 2001 that the geology of present-day Troy is depicted in the Iliad. The site of Troy is known as New Ilium and consists of a huge mound, a replica Trojan Horse, and a small tourist museum.