Thursday, September 30, 2021

Why this blog is not archaeology

I would say that my blog is definitely not an archaeology blog.  An archaeologist would speak and write in ways I do not. An archaeologist is someone who can pick up a bit of bone or a pot shard and tell you things about it. I can't do that.  I would say that I am not an amateur archaeologist at all. That phrase implies a person who engages in archaeology with some regularity, and I do not do that.  I don't read much about archaeology.  I  occasionally look at archaeology videos.  I certainly do not make remarks about bits of bone or pottery.  I don't discuss strata.  I am not sure I could define "dig".  

I would deny the proposition that we are all scientists some of the time.  Many are drawn to a philosophy of science with that implication.  I would say any philosophy of science with that implication has been discredited by reductio ad absurdam, which enforces the principle that propositions with absurd implications are absurd. 

This blog was accused on Daily Kos of engaging in pseudo-archaeology.  The rest of this entry is a rebuttal of that irresponsible charge. 

This blog exists because on 12/4 of last year I spotted some irregularities in the plain of Troy. Spotting those irregularities in a picture online cannot be archeology.  And if it is, it certainly is not pseudo-archeology.  

I am aware of the term Space Archaeology and used it in the article at Daily Kos.  However, I would deny that I was engaging in archaeology in any sense of the word on the night of 12/4/20.  

Suppose a child looking out a window sees an animal unexpectedly and calls out what is seen, saying "there's a squirrel". Is the child doing biology? Zoology? Ecology?  No. Why not?  Well, I would say that the child is not engaged in the scientific method in any meaningful sense. Mere observation is not science even if observation is some sort of step in some uses of, say, the hypothetico-dedctive method.  Suppose you tell me that your shoe weighs exactly 1 kilogram.  Have you taught me some physics?  

Now when a 59 year old goes to google satellite view to look at the area around Kalifat after having looked at an old map of the area, and unexpectedly finds mounds and declivities, and calls out the mounds and declivities, this too is not science.  It is more complicated than identifying a squirrel, but not by all that much.  It requires no specialized knowledge.  

Understanding that the mounds and declivities might be important requires some knowledge (not much) about tells and the history of finding tells.  But spotting them does not.  

Since spotting the tell and its supporting structures I have speculated on this blog about what it all might mean.  I suggested that the mounds south of the city might be flood control works. I speculated about a city in the plain and the possibility that it was destroyed by floods instead of Greeks.  I don't think those are precisely archeological speculations.  

I have two arguments for the thesis that there is probably a city buried in the plain of Troy. They are based on two different premises.  One is that humans do not build anything as big as the mound in front of Hisarlik (a mile wide) except cities.  That premise is factual and the fact it names is not from the provenance of archeology.  It is just a general fact about human history.  The second premise is that the mounds SW of Kalifat could be flood control works. Flood control works argue for something being protected from floods, and that something would be a city.  This second premise is also outside the provenance of archeology. It belongs to hydrology or geography or city planning or history as much as it belongs to archeology.  

It requires no specialized knowledge to understand that a flood plain has lots of floods and that a city in a flood plain will be subject to flooding.  It also requires no specialized knowledge to understand that flood control is about safety, namely, the safety of humans.  Flooding and flood plains are not the provenance of archeology, but of hydrology or geography.     

So, I don't think I have made a fully scientific observation, nor an archaeological argument on this blog.  At least not when it comes to the plain of Troy.  

I did make two entries about two possible settlement mounds in the Troad after spotting them.  I also have an entry about the structure in the marsh SW of Troy.  I think those are all covered by the child-sees-squirrel argument above, although I am only saying they might be settlement mounds, not that they are nor even that they probably are.  

I have also written about Atlantis and the Trojan War, the history of the search for Troy, the placement of Kalifat on old maps, and medieval and ancient sources on the city of Troy. That stuff belongs to history, literature, cartography and geography. 

Archaeology is not hydrology.  Archaeology is not history.  Archaeology is not geography.  It might use any of these at any time, but it is independent of them.  It is also independent of literature, of course, though again, it might call on literature now and then.  

Now suppose some theorist wants to deny the starting point of these reflections.  Doing so would require our theorist to maintain the thesis that a child looking out a window and calling out a squirrel is in fact doing biology. He or she will soon discover what an absurd point of view this is.  For suppose that after exclaiming about the squirrel, the child then exclaims "there's a house!"  What science are they now engaged in?  Archaeology?  Ecology?  Real Estate Studies?  And "there's a car!" means the child has taken up cultural studies or mechanical engineering or economics or all of the above or what?  By this reasoning, the 59 year-old looking at a picture on google satellite view is doing archeology as long as he calls out an unnatural looking mound in the ground, but not if he calls out a tree.  I think that is an absurd epistemology, but my point has yet to be made.  If that is all it takes to do archaeology, then, that is what it takes to do actual archaeology, not pseudo-archaeology.  After all, those who insist on this ridiculous epistemology will agree that the child pointing out a squirrel is not doing pseudo-biology.  He or she is doing the real thing.   

So, this blog is not archaeology given a sane epistemological outlook.  But even on the basis of the absurdly generous epistemology which grants that everyone is doing science daily, and all of us are rational agents, etc., I say, even on that morally corrupted epistemology, this blog would have to be based on actual archaeology, not pseudo-archaeology.  If there is a worthwhile argument ending in the conclusion that this blog has engaged in pseudo-archaeology, its premises do not include granting full scientific status to trifling observations.  

So, what about the thesis that there is a city buried in the plain of Troy?  If that is not a thesis in archaeology, then what is it a thesis in? 

Well, first, let's admit that the thesis that there was a greater city in the plain at Troy is historical.  Eberhard Zangger has been arguing for that thesis for a couple of decades.  His premises are mostly historical and textual.  None of his premises include the visual evidence my case is based on.  

The main thing that makes 'there is a city buried in the plain of Troy' sound archaeological is the word 'buried'.  But the difference between buried and not-buried is learned in childhood and is not specialized knowledge.  So, adding that word to the historical thesis does not make archaeology.  

The historical thesis that there was a city in the plain according to legend, and my thesis that there is a city buried in the plain also differ in their tenses.  One is past tense, one is present tense.  Could being stated in the present tense turn an historical thesis into an archaeological one?   Note well that if the historical thesis is true, then you would expect my thesis to be true.  That is, if there was a city in the plain, then one would expect that there is (what remains of) one there still.  So, the 'was' to 'is' transition is justifiable historically, but that just means my thesis is defendable on historical grounds, and does not need archaeological support to get off the ground.  It would be better defended with some support aside from legends.  Zangger appeals to a stratigraphy study done in the 1970s which found artifacts in the plain.  I appeal to all of Zangger's premises and to the photographic evidence on this blog. It is not just that there was a city in the plain, there still is one there to be excavated.  

The thesis that the mound in front of Hisarlik probably contains a buried city is a very strong one, but it is not really a thesis in archaeology any more than it is a thesis in history or geography.  

My critic resorts to categorical deductions: "Anyone who points and says there is a city buried there is making an archaeological claim.  You have done and said that, therefore, you really are making an archaeological claim."  I assume there is a city there on the basis of observation and inference, yes. It is up to archeologists and other scientists to determine precisely what is in the large mound.  If you will read what I said above, you will see that you seem to be wrong with your categorical remark about spotting tells.  It's not really science.  If it is, then you need to give a reason why it is.  So, I merely deny the first premise of this criticism, and confidently doubt that anyone can ever give a cogent reason for it. 

Saturday, September 4, 2021

Monday, August 23, 2021

Notes on Eberhard Zangger on Ancient Troy

I first learned about the thinking of Dr. Eberhard Zangger some years ago through YouTube.  It started with a video about the bronze age collapse which theorized about the possibility of a wide ranging war.  The video made an impression on me.  Below is an updated version of that film.  

Eventually I discovered the Luwian Studies website.  I encourage everyone to read the website. It consists of a few dozen very short, informative treatments of specific topics, such as the Luwians, Egypt at the end of the bronze age, the sea people, ancient Troy, and iron age migrations of peoples. I have read his well known paper on the sea peoples.  Also a less well known paper linking Troy to Atlantis.  Also his book The Flood From Heaven, which is a detailed treatment of the connection between the story of Troy and the story of Atlantis.   

I want to outline and underline how right Dr. Zangger and the Luwian Studies website have been about the ancient city of Troy.  Below are a few of Zangger's remarks from 2017.  

Let’s just recap on the most important arguments I’ve put forward over the past thirty years. Firstly, I’m saying that not only the citadel knoll of Troy contains Bronze Age remains, but also the area five hundred meters west of it. Secondly, I’m saying that even if the Trojan War was invented by a poet, there needs to be an opponent equal to the Greeks on the eastern side of the Aegean. Thirdly, there are hundreds of settlements in western Asia Minor that have not yet been archaeologically explored.  

I think his third point is perfectly clear and indisputable.  The second point is mostly clear and there will be much debate on it.  The first point demonstrates Zangger's confidence about the existence of a greater city in the plain at Troy.  He is right about it, and the matter is now all but indisputable. There really was a great city in the plain, and everyone can see on Google Satellite View precisely where it used to sit.  

Below are remarks from the Luwian Studies website. Zangger is the president of the Foundation for Luwian Studies. 

During the Trojan War, the Greeks are likely to have destroyed levees and hydraulic installations. Since the war was fought in the dry summer months, their actions had no immediate effect. But when the winter came, with Troy already defeated and destroyed, the topographically low-lying ruins were buried under mud carried by the rivers. Thus, the remains of Troy are likely to be buried a few hundred meters west of Hisarlık, and remain hidden. Excavator Manfred Korfmann has said (in a personal conversation) that drill holes in the floodplain revealed pottery deep down below the present surface. The geoarchaeologist who investigated these deposits for almost forty years concluded, “some levels contain a great deal of archaeological material … Pieces of bricks, stones and mortar indicate the remains of a construction. … From an archaeological point of view, the area along the foot of the northern slope of Troia is an important one … In the light of these findings we consider that it would be very useful to make an archaeological excavation about 7 meters deep.” (

During almost 150 years of research history in Troy, however, all excavations have been restricted to the hill of Hisarlık, which due to its elevation was never affected by mudflows. In other words, the actual lower city of Troy may indeed still lie hidden in the plain underneath a layer of gravel and alluvial silt. Approximately 300 drill holes that were made by Ilhan Kayan to investigate the plain’s stratigraphy produced thick layers with artifact-rich deposits. Accordingly, the buried lower city of Troy may already have been found in the floodplain.  (

These passages further demonstrate the confidence of Dr Zangger's group about the existence of a city in the plain at Troy.  

Dr Zangger discusses the city of Troy in the video below, starting at 40:30 

At 42:38 he says, 'the actual city of Troy was not on the knoll, that is just the royal citadel, the actual city was in the flood plain.  It has been found there by drill cores five or six meters below the present surface'.   When he says this he is showing a slide containing the graphic from Luwian Studies that is also found in one of my earlier posts.  Behind Zangger throughout this lecture you can see that same graphic on the wall behind him, along with the picture of Troy that I critiqued in another of my earlier posts, and which appears again at the bottom of this page.  I have appealed or reacted to things from the Luwian Studies web site in several other places as well.  

This blog has benefited greatly from his work, and I will happily repeat what I said in the first of those earlier posts.  Dr Zangger and the Luwian Studies foundation are right about the location of the greater city of Troy.  

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Two sources on the city in the plain


Here is a paragraph from the Luwian studies website: 

Texts from antiquity to the late Middle Ages indicate that the actual city of Troy extended into the plain beneath the citadel of Ilion (Diodorus 4.75.3; William Gell 1804, 121). The living quarters of the population, craftsmen’s workshops, garrisons and port districts are likely to have been located down there. Various sources describe how the remains of the city, after its destruction by the Greeks, literally disappeared under water and mud (Strabo 1.3.17; Dio Chrysostom 11.76; Quintus of Smyrna 14.646–652; Homer, Iliad 12.16–33; see also Plato, Timaeus 25d). During almost 150 years of research history in Troy, however, all excavations have been restricted to the hill of Hisarlık, which due to its elevation was never affected by mudflows. In other words, the actual lower city of Troy may indeed still lie hidden in the plain underneath a layer of gravel and alluvial silt. Approximately 300 drill holes that were made by Ilhan Kayan to investigate the plain’s stratigraphy produced thick layers with artifact-rich deposits. Accordingly, the buried lower city of Troy may already have been found in the floodplain. Archaeologists looking for the remains of the actual city of Troy may only need to dig a mere 5- to 6-meter trench 300 meters west of Hisarlık – and they are likely to make a breakthrough discovery surpassing that of Heinrich Schliemann.

This passage mentions two sources on the city in the plain, Diodorus Siculus and William Gell.  Below is a screen shot of the relevant lines from Diodorus.*.html  

The relevant sentence is that "Ilus founded in a plain a city which was the most renowned among the cities in the Troad, giving it after himself the name Ilium".  

Luwian Studies also cites William Gell.  Here is a helping of that: 

The account of the territory of Troy being thus completed, it will perhaps be necessary to make a few observations on the inhabitants, at the time of the invasion of the Greeks. The learned Mr. Bryant informs us in the third volume of his Mythology, p. 439, that the Trojans came originally from Egypt; for they were of one family with the Titanians and the Meropians. Ilus is distinguished as a Merop Atlantian, and he was of the race of the Trojan kings, consequently they were all Merop Atlantians. Herodotus also observes, that the Atlantians of Phrygia were skilled in the sciences, and Diodorus says, that they were allied to the gods and heroes, a circumstance which may account for the difference of language which existed between the gods and men, of which Homer takes notice. ...  The Atlantians appear to have been settled in Phrygia before the time of Dardanus and Batieia, and she seems to have been called Myrinne, as Scamander was Xanthus, in their language. The son of Batieia, Ericthonius, was a rich and powerful monarch, and is said to have discovered the mines of precious metals, with which the country abounded, and of which the traces are yet visible in the vicinity of Skepsis. In the reign of Ericthonius, the city of the Trojans was either in another situation, or covered only the upper part of the hill, as the city of Cecrops did the rock of the Acropolis at Athens; but when Tros, his son, ascended the throne, the people were so multiplied that they began to overspread the declivity, and the additional town was called Troy, in honour of that prince. The original fortress, or citadel, was probably stiled Dardania, the town of Tros succeeded, and at length in the time of Ilus his son, the habitations occupied the whole of the hill. Ilus gave his own name Ilion to the city, or at least to that part of it which had been added in his reign; and the kingdom was at that time become so potent, that the monarch found means to expel Tantalus and his son Pelops from Asia. (see pp 120-21,  The Topography of Troy, and Its Vicinity - Google Books)

Gell is citing from Bryant, but I do not know Bryant's sources.  This passage describes a city that was added on to by Tros, "and the additional town was called Troy", but it does not say that this city was in the plain.  It goes on then to discuss Ilus expanding the city and calling the new area Ilion.  Again, it does not say that Ilion was in the plain.  

I included the earlier part of this passage because it mentions Atlantians.  

Between these two sources on the origins of Troy, we have only one explicit reference to a city in the plain.  

Saturday, July 10, 2021

A few propositions and attitudes about Ancient Troy

Some philosophers think a lot about propositions.  They also think about propsitional attitudes (i.e., attitudes toward propositions, such as trust, distrust, belief, disbelief, etc.)  So, in the follwing exercise, I will list some propositions and my attitudes toward them (attitudes in italic).

Two propositions I am willing to defend on the basis of visual evidence

There is a large mound in front of Hisarlik in the plain of Troy.  

There are three more, much smaller mounds west and southwest of Kalafat, along with two declivities. 


One proposition I believe on the basis of inference from visual and other evidence and would gladly defend

There is probably a large city buried in the plain in front of Hisarlik. 

One proposition I believe on the basis of inference from visual evidence but probably would not defend

The smaller mounds around Kalafat are probably flood control works.  

One proposition that has been known and ignored for way too long

There is a cut through the coastline across from Hisarlik. 

One compund proposition that I believe is sad but true

The cut through the coastline and the plain of Troy have mostly been ignored by archeology.  

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Leading American Crackpot: Ignatius Donnelly

There are a lot of falsehoods about the Atlantis tale.  In fact, there are two or three falsehoods about Atlantis that seem to underlay most of the nutty history we all loathe.  

Three recent videos at YouTube discuss the main source of the disinformation, which is the American writer and politician Ignatius Donnelly, who wrote the book called Atlantis, The Antediluvian World that appeared in 1882.  

Donnelly's work postulates an advanced technical society that was destroyed 12k years ago. He argues that survivors of the cataclysm founded all of the world's great civilizations.  

Neither of those ideas are found in Plato.  He did not say that Atlantis was advanced -- his Atlanteans are on the same level of culture as the people around them.  In addition, Plato did not mention or discuss Atlantean survivors.  So, both of those story elements are additions from later writers, probably from Donnelly.  

Donnelly's work is central to pretty much all of the crackpottery that has come after him. He truly is a king of the crackpots, and an Ur crackpot in American history. This connection between Donnelly and other kinds of crackpottery, from Ancient Aliens to Q Anon, is nicely explained in the first film below, beginning around 9:10 to 16:40. The bio of Donnelly begins around 20:25.  He was a Lincoln supporter and Lieutenant Governor of Minnesota (1860-63), and a congressman from Minnesota (1863-69).  So, he moved from the state house to federal office during the civil war.  

This second film is very informative. I enjoyed the discussion of Plato (7:30 - 16:30). The opening seven minutes contain a nice outline of Donnelly's main claims.  The final minutes treat the idea of a comet impact that Donnelly and other crackpots appeal to.  The notion that there was an advanced prehistoric culture is pure poison, and yet it is believed by more than half of Americans. 

This third video works on the distinction between science and pseudo-science, with special attention to the work of Donnelly.  

Monday, May 17, 2021

New Pics of Ancient Troy

One of the most pressing questions about the plain of Troy is simply who did all of this? 

Who cut through the coast line across from Hissarlik? Who did the massive earthworks west of Kalafat? Who built a flood survivable city in the plain? Who built the famous acropolis on Hissarlik? 

We all want to say that the Trojans did this stuff.  And of course, we are right to say it.  But when we call the city Troy and its inhabitants Trojans we are speaking as the Greeks taught us, not as the people who lived there taught us. 

The Hittites may have called this place Wilusa, or Tauruisa, or Assuwa, or Ahhiyawa.  But again, those are Hittite words.  

In addition, the cut through the coastline, the manmade mounds west of Kalafat and the city in the plain form no part of the familiar story about Troy.  Most of what I discuss on this blog has never been part of the meaning of the words Troy and Trojan.  

I hope to see the meaning of those terms deepen, to include not only the geography and archeology of the plain, but also the voices of the people who lived there.  May writing be found one day in the mound!  

Wouldn't it be nice to know who these people were and how they thought about their world including how they thought about the Greeks and Hittites?  What did they call the Hittites? What did they call the Greeks? And what did they call themselves?  

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

An Unexplained Structure in the Plain of Troy

I have spotted a structure in the plain.  It is inside the baseball field shaped marsh SW of the city, in the SW corner of the marsh.  

I have no idea what that is.  It is on both sides of the road and canal.  For all I know, it is modern.  But it could be ancient.  

Friday, May 7, 2021

Yet another tell in the Troad?

Spotted what could be a settlement site in the Troad.  This one is about 35 miles NE of Hissarlik, near the town of Lapseki.  

Sunday, May 2, 2021

Critiquing A Picture of Ancient Troy

This is my favorite picture of Ancient Troy.  I can stare at it for hours.  It is an artist's impression from the Luwian Studies website.  There is a cut through the coastal ridge at Troy, and the picture below looks almost due east across the cut in the ridge toward the walled city in the plain and its acropolis on the hillside above.  There is a boat being pulled through the cut into an inland basin.  Coming out toward the cut is a gated avenue.  The city also has at least one navigable canal going through it from side to side.  There are straight, well-defined canals on both sides of the plain going all the way up the hill.  The waterway between the city and the coastal ridge is navigable and has a bridge across it.  There are three inland basins and an angular harbor. There are villages on the coastal ridge and in the hills around the plain.  

I wrote about that cut through the coastal ridge in my last post.  It is one of the five contemporary declivities in the plain of Troy that need to be explained.  I have been thinking that it was used to drain a marsh on the inside of the ridge.  However, it is much wider than would be necessary for that purpose.  The only other purpose for it that I have come across is the one depicted here, where it functions as a dry slipway for ships.  I have not thought up another.  Sailing into the mouth of the Dardanelle straights may have been so difficult for bronze age mariners that something like that dry slipway was extremely useful, if not necessary.  

Below is a Spratt map turned sideways to mirror the eastward orientation of the picture above.  At the bottom of the map is an area marked Lisgar Marsh.  Beyond the coast are the words Artificial Cut.  In the cut is the abbreviation "Fount" which is short for Fountain, by which Spratt means a spring.  There is another along the creek north of Kalifat and 3 more on the north side of Hissarlik. There are a lot of springs in the plain, and there was one either in or near the great cut in Spratt's time. 

Going back now to the topmost picture, I already noted the gated avenue coming out toward the cut in the coastline. Now I want to draw your attention to the avenue to the right of that, on the south end of the city.  It is angled toward another cut in the coastline, one which I did not address in my last post, but did address in an earlier post.  This is the canal at Besik Bay (Besik means Cradle).  The avenue pointing toward Besik Bay looks navigable in the picture.  

In the map from Spratt, there is a canal in approximately the position of the artist's avenue pointing at Besik Bay.  It ends at Kalifat.  

West of Kalifat the map shows a "Deep Bed".  Going north from that bed is an arc of marshy areas that lead to a branch labeled Swampy Hollows.  That arc of low spots in the plain corresponds rather well with the arc of the outer city wall in the topmost picture above.  

Finally, in the Spratt map, there is a strip of low, marshy land extending from the branch marked Swampy Hollows east to the creek below Hissarlik.  This line corresponds nicely with the northernmost wall in the artist's impression above. Note their relative positions in relation to the valley north of Hissarlik.  

I suspect that the artist's impression was based on the Spratt maps.  The artist places the southernmost avenue over the canal leading to Kalifat depicted by Spratt.  It arcs around Hissarlik like the arc of marshes Spratt drew.  The placement of its northern wall seems to be inspired by Spratt as well.  Because it harmonizes so nicely with the Spratt maps the picture deserves extra praise, imho.  It is one of my favorite things on the internet.  Nevertheless, I shall point out some of its weaknesses.  

1. In the artist's rendering, the city in the plain is a lot wider than the empty area outlined on the Spratt maps. Look at the distance between the gate on the gated avenue and the coastal ridge. It has barely enough space for the navigable canal. Then look at the space on the Spratt map between the arc of marshy areas and the coastal ridge.  Spratt shows lots of space, enough to farm the area between the river and the marshes.  So, the artist's city comes out from Hissarlik toward the coast too far to be a match with the Spratt map.  

2. The picture includes a lot more water than the actual plain does.  There are are no navigable waterways in the plain of Troy. There are mere mountain streams and drainage canals in the plain.  Even the biggest of them, the Scamander, is shallow and not very wide in summer.  

3. The artist depicts a bay of Troy that comes a quarter of the way into the valley of the Simois.  Meanwhile, the entire stream of the Simois has been diverted to the top of Hissarlik.  The water then circles the citadel knoll, and my question is, what happens to the water after that?   Where does the excess water go? 

4. I think the city in the picture will not survive floods.  Imagine the entire plain above the city in knee deep water from side to side.  Flood waters would hit the uphill wall at a 90 degree angle.  That wall  reaches out over half way into the plain, so it would be holding back over half the water in the plain, and it would eventually give way.  Remember, this is mud brick construction on top of stone foundations.  

Saturday, May 1, 2021

Another Tell in the Troad?

I have spotted what looks like a buried settlement just north of the city of Biga, in Canakkale province, Turkey.  

The hill is shaped a bit like the mound in front of Hissarlik insofar as it is tapered on one end.  It is around 55 miles NE of Hissarlik. 

In the second photo, the city at the bottom of the picture is Biga.  

I was surprised to discover that this one is not on the list of Anatolian settlement sites at Luwian Studies. They actually show surprisingly few sites in the Troad.  

There may be a companion site there.  

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Declivities in the Plain of Troy

I have pointed out all of the raised earth anomalies I know of in the plain of Troy in earlier posts.  There are also several weird low spots in the plain of Troy.  In this post I will point them out and discuss them. 
To start with, how about a low spot that is apparently no longer present in the plain?  This is a lake in the upper plain that has disappeared.  Judan Lake is shown on old maps, like the Spratt map below.  I have circled the lake in orange.  

I don't know anything about the lake, just that it was there when Spratt and Forschhammer visited the plain in the 1840's.  I am unsure when it disappeared.  

As things are now, there are five declivities to discuss.  I have circled them in orange below.  

The first one is on the far left, exiting the picture.  That is a cut through the coast line known as the Kesik Cut ("Kesik" means cut).  It starts in a marsh on the inside of the coastal ridge and cuts right through it to the other side.  I suspect it is for drainage and flood control.  However it is quite wide, much wider than would be necessary merely to drain the marsh.  So, it may have had another function, but it also might not be entirely man made.  There is a fault line in the plain that may exit at that spot.  The cut could be that a natural cleft was exploited and improved my humans.    

The second declivity is near the bottom of the picture, looking like a baseball field.  I believe that is a marsh.  It is possible that it is not a marsh. There can be few reasons for agri-business to have left such a large area unplanted.  Assuming it is a marsh, it is another element of the plain that is hard to explain.  

The third and fourth declivities are near Kalifat.  Two pretty obviously man-made low spots.  One of them is at the south end of the city, and may have held water for domestic use.  The other is across the river from there, sitting between two man-made mounds.  They both seem to be part of a flood control system.  

The fifth declivity is at the north end of the city.  It is in a complicated area of the plain.  A large area south of the road there is never planted.  The area looks like a marsh. But it might not be.  I figure there must be a good reason as to why agri-business does not plant those fields.  Marshiness would be a good reason.  On the other hand, perhaps it is a park.  Or perhaps it has owners who don't want to farm it and will not sell it to those who do.  My point is to ask for an explanation here, not to provide one. 

North of the road is a triangular low spot between higher areas.  Below are two views of the area.  

The low spot on the north end of the mound corresponds to a feature drawn by 19th century map makers showing a similar low spot.  For example, on the map from Thomas Spratt below, and on the one above showing the lake, the low spot is significantly north of Hissarlik between the Kalifatli Asmak and the abandoned bed (Winter Channel) of the Scamander (which is its current bed today).  

In the map above, the low spot is beneath the words Kum Koi (Sand Village) at the top right center of the picture. An arrow there might indicate a current running west to east.  

In the map above, the low spot is beneath the words Kuom Kioi and Columns.  

In the map above, the low spot in question is represented with a two pronged, canal like diagram, above the words Koom Keui.  I used the above graphic in an earlier post when I did not know where I had gotten it.  I have rediscovered the source since then.  It is from a book called Maritime Networks in the Mycenaean World.  

It is because of these old maps that I suspect the area at the north end of the mound contains a marsh.  Take a look at the old map below, in which North is at the bottom of the picture.  

This map is dated1627, making it more than 200 years older than the Spratt maps (the letter markings on the map are interpreted at the link).  It shows a large jagged lake behind the beach of Troy, and smaller lake closer to the shoreline.  Note that behind the bigger lake is the confluence of two rivers.  That is supposed to be the Scamander and the Simois (the M in the bay of Troy marks the "mouth of Simois and Scamander").  The two rivers do not actually meet, though many talk as though they do.  The Simois turns into the Intepe Asmak, while the Scamander reaches the sea on the other side of the plain, near Sigeum.  At any rate, the lakes in this drawing (especially the big one) are curious. Why are they there?  Why did they disappear?  

That lake, if you accept it, would make a 7th notable declivity in the plain of Troy (and the second that has disappeared in modern times), unless you think it is just the 6th one listed here, that is, in other words, if you think it is the marshy area on the complicated, north end of the tell.  

I have gone back and forth on this. If I was asked to explain it, I would speculate that the Spratt maps and the satellite photo suggest that the larger of the two lakes is probably the final declivity listed above. At that time, it was still a lake

The existence of the city in the plain along with its flood control works can explain almost all of the modern declivities.  All of the declivities circled in orange on the satellite photo above probably result from human interventions.  

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Notes on Dictys Cretensis on Troy and its downfall

Dictys Cretensis (DC) claims to have participated in the Trojan war on the Greek side, having come to Troy from Crete with King Idomeneus of Knossos.  His work, along with that of Dares Phrygius, heavily influenced medieval thinking on the Trojan war, during the centuries when Homer was not available in the West. It is titled Ephemeris belli Troiani (Chronicle of the Trojan War).  It is a short work, but longer than that of Dares.  

My interest in Dictys lies in is his descriptions of the city of Troy and its destruction. But I am going to start with his discussion of King Memnon because he has been on my mind a bit after my last blog post on him.  

On the following day, Memnon, the son of Tithonus and Aurora, arrived with a large army of Indians and Ethiopians, a truly remarkable army which consisted of thousands and thousands of men with various kinds of arms, and surpassed the hopes and prayers even of Priam. All the country around and beyond Troy, as far as eye could see, was filled with men and horses, and glittered with the splendor of arms and standards. Memnon had led these forces to Troy by way of the Caucasus mountains.
At the same time he had sent another group of equal size by sea, with Phalas as their guide and leader. These others had landed on the island of Rhodes, which they soon discovered to be an ally of Greece. At first, fearing that when the purpose of their mission was known, their ships might be fired, they stayed in the harbor. Later, however, dividing their strength, they went to the wealthy cities of Camirus and Ialysus. Soon the Rhodians were blaming Phalas for trying to aid Alexander, the same Alexander who had recently conquered Phalas’ country, Sidon.  In order to stir up the army, they said that whoever defended this crime was in no way different from a barbarian; and they added many such things as would incense the common soldiers and make them take their side. Nor did they fail in their intent, for the Phoenicians, who composed a majority of Phalas’ army, whether influenced by the accusations of the Rhodians, or wishing to gain control of the wealth their ships were carrying, made an attack against Phalas and stoned him to death. Then, dividing their gold and whatever booty they had, they dispersed to the cities we mentioned above.  

Memnon brought a force of impressive size in spite of losing half of it in a rebellion at Rhodes.  A portion of Memnon's army is Phoenician.  The Phoenicians are an iron age people, not a bronze age people.  They did not exist as a people when the Trojan war happened.  Nevertheless, if a person in the iron age wanted to refer to areas along the Syrian coast, calling them Phoenician would work.  So,  reading "Phoenician" merely as "people from the Syrian coast" might help.  DC says that Memnon came from the Caucus mountains, on the eastern shore of the Black Sea -- nowhere near Phoenicia.  He heavily underlines the size and diversity of Memnon's army; it is Ethiopian, Indian and Phoenician. 

Meanwhile the army that had come with Memnon had set up camp in a wide area (the walls of the city could not have easily contained so great a number of men), and everyone, each in his own particular group, was training for combat. These groups differed in their fighting methods and skills according to the regions from which they came. Their different kinds of weapons, their different kinds of shields and helmets, gave them a terrifying warlike appearance.
Then at dawn, after several days, when his soldiers were ready to fight, Memnon gave them the signal and led them to battle. And the Trojans, along with their allies, left the protection of their walls and also advanced. We, for our part, drew up our forces to meet them, being somewhat awed by the size of our unknown enemy. When they had come within a spear’s throw of our side, they fell upon us with a huge and dissonant clamor. It was like a landslide. Our men, standing together, were able to break their attack. But soon their lines were renewed and reformed, and weapons were flying this way and that, and many on both sides were dying. Nor was there any end in sight, so long as Memnon, accompanied by all of his bravest men, was attacking our center, riding in his chariot, and slaying or wounding whomever he met. Our casualties were mounting terribly, and our leaders conceded defeat; they felt that we were destined to lose and that our only hope was in flight. But night, the refuge of the oppressed, kept the enemy off. Otherwise, that day would have seen our ships destroyed by fire; so great was Memnon’s power and martial skill, so grievous our predicament. 
When the fighting had stopped, we, being broken in spirit and fearing the war’s final outcome, spent the night burying those we had lost in battle. Then we thought of a plan: one of our men should challenge Memnon to fight in single combat. Accordingly, we proceeded to choose a champion by lot. The lots of all were shaken, excepting only – as Agamemnon requested – Menelaus’, Ulysses’, and Idomeneus’; and Ajax, in answer to everyone’s prayers, was chosen. Then we ate and renewed our strength and spent the rest of the night in sleep.
At daybreak we armed, drew up our forces in order, and went out to battle. Memnon, no less alert, also advanced, and with him all the Trojans. When both of the armies were ready, the battle was joined. As might be expected, a great number of men fell dead on both sides, or withdrew mortally wounded. It was in this battle that Antilochus, the son of Nestor, ran into Memnon, and thus met his death.
When Ajax thought that the time was right, he went out between the lines and challenged the king. First, however, he called on Ulysses and Idomeneus to defend him in case any others attacked. Memnon, seeing Ajax advance, leaped from his chariot and met him on foot. Among both armies fear and hope were running high. Finally Ajax thrust his spear into the center of Memnon’s shield and, using all his weight and force, shoved it through and into Memnon’s side. The companions of Memnon, when they saw what had happened, rushed to his aid and tried to push Ajax away. But this interference on the part of the barbarians stirred Achilles to act; he entered the fray and drove his spear through Memnon’s throat, where the shield gave no protection.
Memnon’s unexpected death, while breaking the enemy’s spirit, bolstered ours. Now the Ethiopians had turned and were fleeing; now our men were pursuing, wreaking great slaughter. Polydamas tried to renew the battle, but soon was surrounded and fell, hit in the groin by Ajax. And Glaucus, the son of Antenor, was killed; he was fighting Diomedes when Agamemnon struck him down with a spear. One might see Ethiopians and Trojans fleeing everywhere over the field in disorder, without leaders, crowding and rushing, hindering each other, falling where driverless horses were trampling them down. Our men, their spirits renewed, were attacking and slaughtering the enemy, scattering those who had been entangled and then picking them off with their spears. The field near the walls was flowing with blood; armor and corpses abounded wherever the enemy went. ... When we had returned to camp, the Trojans sent envoys to obtain permission to bury their dead. Thus the dead were gathered, each by his own, and cremated and buried according to ancient custom. Memnon, however, was cremated apart from the others; his remains were put in an urn and given to relatives to take to his native land. (DC IV 4-8)
Sarpedon of Lycia, Pentheselia of the Amazons, and Memnon of Ethiopia bring large armies, large enough to brighten the hopes of the city.  Then there is Eurypylus.  

Meanwhile a messenger arrived to tell Priam that Eurypylus, the son of Telephus, was arriving from Mysia. (The king had enticed him with many beautiful gifts, and had finally won his support by offering Cassandra in marriage. Among the other very beautiful things he had sent to him was a staff which, being made of gold, was talked of far and wide.) Eurypylus, the illustrious warrior, had come with his Mysian and Ceteian forces. The Trojans welcomed him joyously, for in him their every hope was revived.  (DC IV 14)

Eurypylus has both Mysian and Ceteian forces.  It would make sense for a Hittite to have Mysian troops, so perhaps the Ceteians are Hattians, that is, Hittites.  All four foreign leaders are killed.  The remains of Sarpedon (DC III 7) and Memnon are sent home by the Trojans. Eurypylus, who is Greek, is cremated by the Greeks (DC IV 18).  Pentheselia, mortally wounded but still alive, is thrown into the Scamander and not spoken of again by Dictys (DC IV 3).  

After this look at foreign generals, we can discuss the physical city.  What does Dictys have to say about the city of Troy?  First and foremost, he distinguishes the citadel from the main city of Troy.  

During their discussions, a huge crash and much shouting suddenly arose from Pergamum, where Priam’s palace was located. Those in the council, being thrown into confusion, ran outside and, thinking that the princes, as usual, had done some treacherous deed, they rushed to the temple of Minerva. Soon afterwards, however, they learned, from those who came from the citadel, that the sons of Alexander, his children by Helen, had perished, crushed when the roof of their home had collapsed. (DC V 5

In this sad story, Pergamum is a specific location.  The council hears noises coming from there.  They retreat to a temple, and then "those who came from the citadel" inform them of what has happened. Thus the citadel and Pergamum seem identical and distinct from the city.  In addition, "Diomedes and Ulysses ...  walked around in the public square, like sightseers, marveling at the wonderful buildings of Troy" (DC V 7).  Troy has a "public square" and "wonderful buildings".   Several temples are mentioned as well.  For example, "Priam, seeing what was happening, fled to the altar of Jupiter that stood in front of the palace."  This is an altar, not a temple, I suppose.  They might be the same thing though.  There is also a temple of Thymbraean Apollo, wherein Achilles is killed by Alexander and accomplices (DC IV 10-11).  We can expect most every story of Troy to have a temple of Minerva/Athena because the Palladium is kept in her temple, and is the divine secret of Troy's strength.  

There are a few instances of the Trojans coming out of their gates in formation.  

The next day, however, had hardly begun when the Trojans armed themselves and rushed from their gates.  (DC II 13)

 At daybreak, after calling all of his men to arms, he [Hector] led them through the gates, with orders to move at double-time straight for the ships, and fall upon us. (DC II 42)

After a few days the Greeks took up arms and, having gone onto the field, challenged the Trojans to come out and fight, if they dared. Alexander and his brothers, in answer to this challenge, set their army in order and led it forth.  (DC IV 9) 

He [Eurypylus], having gained the support of the princes, created a combined force consisting of his own men and those of the Trojans and, leading them out of the gate, deployed them for battle; he himself commanded the center.  (DC IV 17)

This is important for a couple of reasons. The city must be large enough to harbor all of those troops and horses.  The city must also be large enough to accommodate the organization and movement of military units.  So, it needs to have not only the quarters necessary for troops, but the open space necessary for assembling military formations.  Needless to say, the little fortress on Hisarlik is not large enough to be the city described by DC.  

As for the war, DC tells us that the Trojans and Greeks mingled together during truces, and also that the Greeks planted and harvested in the plain of Troy.  

They fought until sundown with all their might, but neither side could claim a victory. With the coming of night, the commander-in-chief withdrew their forces a short distance and posted sufficient guards along the facing battle lines. They kept their men fully armed in these positions and waited for an opportunity to make a successful attack. But this opportunity never came, for winter began to set in, soaking the battlefield with frequent rains. The barbarians retreated within their walls, and our men, left with no enemy to fight, returned to the ships and took up winter duties. Dividing the portion of the plain that was unfit for battle into two parts, they cultivated the soil and grew whatever crops the time of year permitted. (DC II 41) 

During this winter, Greeks and Trojans mingled in the grove of the Thymbraean Apollo. They went freely, whether singly or in groups, without any fear of each other.  (DC II 52)

The temple in question appears to be the one two miles east of Hisarlik in the valley of the Dumbrek (Thimbrus/Simois) river.  Greeks camped in the bay of Troy would have to travel further than that to reach the temple.  DC says there was a "portion of the plain that was unfit for battle".  I am not sure what part that would be.  

According to DC, the city was burned to the ground by men. 

When the Trojans, being worn out with carousing and feeling happy and secure because of the peace, had fallen asleep, we returned to the city, sailing through the dead silence, following the beacon that Sinon raised from his hidden position. Soon we had entered the walls and divided the city among us. At a given signal, we slaughtered whomever we found – in homes, on streets, in places sacred and profane. Some of the Trojans awoke, but these were cut down before they could reach for their arms or think of a way to escape. There was, in short, no end to death and slaughter. Parents and children were killed, while loved ones watched and lamented, and then the latter were killed – a pitiable sight. With equal dispatch, the buildings of the city were set on fire and destroyed; the only homes to be saved were those of Aeneas and Antenor, where guards had been posted. Priam, seeing what was happening, fled to the altar of Jupiter that stood in front of the palace. And many members of the royal family fled to other shrines of the gods; Cassandra, for instance, went to the temple of Minerva. All who fell into the hands of the enemy died cruelly, without anyone to avenge them.
At daybreak our forces came to the house where Helen was living with Deiphobus. He (as already described) had taken her to wife when Alexander had died. Now Menelaus tortured him to death, brutally cutting him to pieces, lopping off ears and arms and nose and so forth.
And Neoptolemus, with no respect for old age or the office of king, slaughtered Priam, both of whose hands were clutching the altar. And Ajax the son of Oileus dragged off Cassandra from the temple of Minerva to be his captive.
Thus we destroyed Troy and the Trojans. But still there were those who were seeking protection at the altars of gods. We decided unanimously to pull them away and kill them; so great was our lust for vengeance and our will to destroy the power of the Trojans. Accordingly, those who had escaped the slaughter of the previous night, those trembling sheep, were slaughtered. And, as is usual in war, we pillaged the temples and half-burned houses, and for many a day hunted down any of the enemy who might have escaped. Places were designated where objects of gold and of silver and costly garments were brought.
When we were sated with Trojan blood, and the city was burned to the ground, we divided the booty, in payment of our military service, beginning with the captive women and children. (DC V 12f)  



Tuesday, April 20, 2021

The Trojan War and the War with Atlantis: a few points of comparison

The idea that Plato's account of a Greek war with Atlantis is a misunderstood retelling of the story of the Trojan War might go back as far as Dio Chrysostum.   More recently, Eberhard Zangger has worked on the topic.  You can read his 1993 paper, "Plato's Atlantis Account -- A Distorted Recollection of the Trojan War" at Research Gate. He also has a book, The Flood from Heaven: Deciphering the Atlantis Legend, which appeared in 1992

There are, of course, lots of problems in talking about Atlantis. The tale is inconsistent about times and places. It includes elements that are implausible. The sentences describing Atlantis' location are so imprecise that there are dozens of theories about its location.  I will be emphasizing just a few reasons to suspect that the tale is about the Trojan war.  I do not claim to have solved all of the problems involved in giving a satisfactory interpretation of the Atlantis tale.  

The story of Atlantis is told in two parts in two different works by Plato, Timaeus and Critias. The second of these is an incomplete work that breaks off midsentence.  It is wholly dedicated to the Atlantis tale and runs perhaps 8 pages.  The other work, Timaeus, is a complete work on many topics in which the discussion of Atlantis fills around 3-4 pages.  That is all there is to know about Atlantis.  There are no other sources.  The war with Atlantis is mentioned in Critias, but not described.  The city of Atlantis is mentioned in Timaeus but not described.  One has to go to the proper work to read about the war or the city.  And that goes for most of the information in the two treatments, there is almost no repetition. What is said in one work is not said in the other.  Timaeus is the earlier work.  It tells the story of the war and its aftermath.  Critias describes both the city of Athens and the city of Atlantis along with their customs and political structures. 

According to Plato, the story was told to Solon, a famous poet, philosopher and statesman, one of the seven sages of Greece, and one of the fathers of democratization in the west.  Plato, a rejecter of democracy living over 200 years later, is related to Solon, and so is Critias, the character speaking in both treatments of the tale.  Critias claims to have Solon's writings about Atlantis and to have studied them.  The story is told to Solon by a priest who says that the story of Atlantis was recorded on columns.  

The first reason to suspect that the Atlantis tale is about the Trojan war is that it is about a Greek war that was famous enough that the Egyptians would know about it and record it on their columns.  There can't be many of those.  The most famous Greek war is the Trojan war.  Are there any similarities between the war with Atlantis and the Trojan war other than the fact that they are famous Greek wars?  Yes.  The enemy coalitions are similar.  The coalition supporting Atlantis includes the coast of Asia Minor, the Libyan coast and the areas north of Greece (they control "Libya as far as Egypt", and "Europe as far as Tyrhennia", we are told) as shown in the diagram below.  Plato writes that the coalition was as big as Libya and Asia added together, but I am reading that as saying that it consisted of Libya and Asia, and I am reading Asia as meaning Assuwa/Assiawa -- the coast of Anatolia.  In the word "Libya" I am reading merely the coast west of Egypt.  A naval blockade running between the Libyan and Anatolian coasts would cut off Greek trade with Egypt and the Levant. 

The red coastlines and the areas north of Greece are a hostile faction. I have drawn the upper line along the Danube valley, then cut across northern Italy fairly arbitrarily to take in Tyrhennia.  There are other ways to construct this.  I did not have to put the line in the Danube valley.  It could have run much further south, along the Thracian coast.  Meanwhile, Homer's Trojan coalition looks like the diagram below.   

At the bottom-right of this map is a line representing Memnon of Ethiopia, which lies south of Egypt. In the upper-right is a line at Colchis. The line through Thrace reaches over to Paeonia.  Of course,  there were peoples inland from the Turkish coast who sided with the Trojans, so I could color a lot of western Anatolia red.  Later writers add other characters to the mix, including Eurypolus and the Ceteians (=Ketians=Xetians=Hattians, i.e. Hittites), as well as the King of Persia.  Memnon is said to have troops from India. So, one could color almost all of Anatolia red and continue perhaps all the way to Susa (the city of Memnon) in Persia.  But I think my point is made with this much: the Trojan and Atlantian coalitions described by Homer and Plato are similar.  

The second reason to suspect that the Atlantis story is about the Trojan War is that in both stories the Greeks win the war but are destroyed afterwards.  In Homer, the post-Troy Greeks are decimated by civil war at home.  In the Atlantis tale, the Greeks and Atlantis are destroyed after the war by natural causes (earthquakes and floods).  In archeology, Greek citadels are abandoned at the end of the bronze age, but we know not why.  

The third reason to suspect that the Atlantis tale is about the Trojan war has to do with Greek literacy.  According to Timaeus, the Greeks wrote before their encounter with Atlantis, but not afterwards.  History and archeology show us that there was in fact Greek writing prior to the bronze age collapse, but not afterwards for around 500 years, until a version of the Phoenician alphabet was used to write Greek.  This loss of Greek writing as described in the Atlantis tale strongly suggests the end of the bronze age as the time in which the war with Atlantis occurred.  

The fourth reason to suspect that the Atlantis story is about the Trojan war has to do with the dates given in the story.  Plato mentions both 8000 years and 9000 years ago as dates for the story to have taken place.  Plato says the story comes from Solon who visited Egypt sometime around 560 bce.  Needless to say, there were no Greeks and no Egyptians in the 9500's bce, nor in the 8500s.  There would be no Egyptian records from those times, but the priest in the story claims to possess a record that was made roughly contemporaneously with the events they describe.  For that to be true, Egypt and Egyptian writing have to exist at the time of Atlantis.  In addition, Atlantis is described as having laws written on metal steles.  For that to be true, Atlantis itself has to exist in the era of writing, which did not come about until around 3000 bce.  If the story is set in the 9500's or 8500's bce, then it is false, because there was no writing, no Egyptian records, and no Greek war to record in those times.  

So, the story of Atlantis is either false or the dates are wrong.  

Now it is a simple matter of fact that "9000 years" is an ambiguous term in a society that uses both lunar and solar calendars, as Egypt did.  Their lunar calendars were used in religious life, and the party speaking to Solon is a priest.  Perhaps the priest was speaking about lunar rather than solar years.  If so, then 9000 lunar years means 9000 moons.  There are approximately 12.3 moons per solar year. 

9000 divided by 12.3 = 731

8000 divided by 12.3 = 650

If the story is from 560 bce, then the priest is talking about events that took place either around 1291 or around 1210 bce, but of course, he is ball-parking the figure. 1000 moons take around 81 years. Saying "eight or nine thousand moons ago" names a narrower range than saying "six or seven hundred years ago" by nineteen years. 100 moons take just over 8 years. So, if the priest is off by a couple hundred moons, it comes out to less than two decades. That is tolerable accuracy in this sort of work.  

The simple method of reading the years in the story as lunar years places the war with Atlantis in the final century of the bronze age, which is the time in which the Trojan war is supposed to have taken place.  

The fifth reason to suspect that the Atlantis tale is about the Trojan war is that it is about a city with writing, metals, spearmen and war chariots.  The material culture described matches the bronze age, and no other.  So, the Atlantis tale is about a Greek war against a bronze age city that was famous enough to have appeared on Egyptian columns.  There might be only one of those.  

The sixth reason to suspect that the Atlantis tale is about the Trojan war has to do with the priest's descriptions of the events and their context.  

For there was a time, Solon, before the great deluge of all, when the city which now is Athens was first in war and in every way the best governed of all cities, is said to have performed the noblest deeds and to have had the fairest constitution of any of which tradition tells, under the face of heaven.  (Timaeus)  

The event that wiped out Atlantis and the Greeks is referred to here as "the great deluge of all".  Other remarks from the priest: 

There have been, and will be again, many destructions of mankind arising out of many causes; the greatest have been brought about by the agencies of fire and water, and other lesser ones by innumerable other causes. (Timaeus

The greatest deluge of all is one of those periodic "destructions of mankind" that the priest discusses.  

There is a story, which even you have preserved, that once upon a time Paethon, the son of Helios, having yoked the steeds in his father's chariot, because he was not able to drive them in the path of his father, burnt up all that was upon the earth, and was himself destroyed by a thunderbolt. Now this has the form of a myth, but really signifies a declination of the bodies moving in the heavens around the earth, and a great conflagration of things upon the earth, which recurs after long intervals; at such times those who live upon the mountains and in dry and lofty places are more liable to destruction than those who dwell by rivers or on the seashore. And from this calamity the Nile, who is our never-failing saviour, delivers and preserves us. When, on the other hand, the gods purge the earth with a deluge of water, the survivors in your country are herdsmen and shepherds who dwell on the mountains, but those who, like you, live in cities are carried by the rivers into the sea. Whereas in this land, neither then nor at any other time, does the water come down from above on the fields, having always a tendency to come up from below; for which reason the traditions preserved here are the most ancient. (Timaeus)

The priest believes that a myth about a world wide conflagration was in fact a recollection of a natural catastrophe caused by a "declination of the bodies moving in the heavens around the earth."  A falling body that causes a fire sounds like a meteor to me.  These declining movements "recur after long intervals", and so do the floods.  When the earth burns, those in lofty and dry places suffer most, and those in low lying, wet areas are safest. The Nile saves Egypt from scorching.  Also the waters rarely come down from above in Egypt, but rather rise up from below.  When the floods come from above, those in high places are safest, and those in the cities (which are on the rivers) are swept into the sea.  Egypt rarely sees flooding from above, and hence her records are the oldest.  

And whatever happened either in your country or in ours, or in any other region of which we are informed -- if there were any actions noble or great or in any other way remarkable, they have all been written down by us of old, and are preserved in our temples. Whereas just when you and other nations are beginning to be provided with letters and the other requisites of civilized life, after the usual interval, the stream from heaven, like a pestilence, comes pouring down, and leaves only those of you who are destitute of letters and education; and so you have to begin all over again like children, and know nothing of what happened in ancient times, either among us or among yourselves. (Timaeus)

Just when Greeks and other societies get going with writing, the floods come and wipe out the cities, leaving behind only those who do not know how to write.  The priest sees this as a regular occurrence.  

So, the priest is saying that Greece and Atlantis were destroyed in the greatest deluge of all.  The deluges are one type of human destruction event.  The greatest "deluge" would be either the greatest flood from above that Egypt recorded, or the greatest human destruction event they recorded, depending on how broadly the term is meant.   Their records surely included no greater destruction event than the bronze age collapse, which is when Greek writing was lost.  

The war with Atlantis corresponds with one of the greatest destruction events Egypt ever recorded, and also with the loss of Greek writing.  No other Greek war fits that context but the Trojan war.    

There are other similarities between Troy and Atlantis. Dr Zangger has done a lot of good work on many, many points.  I have concentrated merely on the war and its context here.  

On my reading, the Atlantis story feels like an addition to our paltry literature describing events in and around the bronze age collapse.   It should be valued for that reason alone.  The priest's mention of "the great deluge of all" may be an attempt to name the bronze age collapse.  It might be the first attempt to name it and talk about it in world literature.  

UPDATE: It turns out that the Amazons are not from the Colchis area as I had thought when I made the maps above.  They are from northern Anatolia. 

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Was Memnon a Hittite?

Recently a video appeared from geoffreyM2TW making a case for the Hittites as participants in the Trojan War.  The author has two hypotheses.  One is that the Ceteians are Hattians, that is, Hittites.  The other is that the Ethiopians are Hittites.  I had heard the first theory, but I had not heard the second one until I watched this video.  

geoffreyM2TW traces the idea that the Ceteians were Hittites back to G.L. Huxley's Acheans and Hittites, which appeared in 1960.  

The author offers his own reasoning on the second point.  He suggests that the word Ethiopia comes from Greek roots meaning sky or air + appearance or face (16:15).  When Memnon, their king, died in battle, the Ethiopians turned into birds and flew away, on at least one telling of the tale.  The usual derivation of Ethiopia, which is a Greek word, appeals to roots meaning burnt + appearance or face.  

I have often thought that Homer might not have known precisely where Memnon was from -- perhaps he knew that he was from an area near Egypt, and picked their neighbor to the south.  There is a Merneptah stele that talks about a war with Libya (and the sea people).  Perhaps Memnon was from Libya (Egypt's neighbor to the west) and Homer got it wrong.  Perhaps Memnon is a memory from the war Merneptah talked about.  

I looked into Homer's remarks on Memnon and discovered that Homer does not tell the story. Memnon is primarily a tale from the non-Homeric, Epic Cycle poems.  I believe Memnon is mentioned only once by Homer, and that is in the Odyssey.  

At around 15:40 of the above video, an excerpt from an ancient summary of the lost Epic Cycle poem known as the Aethiopis is discussed.  Memnon is said to have arrived in Troy from Susa (in Persia), and to have conquered all the peoples between the Choaspes river (in Afghanistan) and Troy.  According to another Roman era source, his soldiers came from Ethiopia and India.  

At 17:55 Herodotus is quoted on screen claiming that a relief in Anatolia that was thought to represent Memnon might actually represent a pharaoh instead.  The relief shown looks Hittite to me, but is in fact Arzawan. It is on the road to Sardis, and is thought to be the king of Mira.  

geoffreyM2TW draws the conclusion that Memnon was probably a Hittite at 20:05.  His inference is based partly on the identification of the relief with Memnon, partly on the assertion that the relief's style and dress are Hittite, partly on the derivation of the first syllable in Ethiopia from the Greek Aether, and partly on the fact that ancient accounts say that Memnon came from the east. Herodotus even calls Susa the city of Memnon.  

At that point the author adds one more observation.  Eurypylus and the Ceteians are mentioned by Homer alongside Memnon.  He says that might not be an accident.  He is right, it might not be.  Perhaps Memnon's army and the Ceteian army are one and the same.  

As for geoffreyM2TW's argument, grant him the derivation of Ethiopia and take into account that Memnon came from the east.  That is not enough to decide the issue. After all, if Memnon marched from the Nile to Troy, he would have come to Troy from east of there. And it doesn't really matter what the Greeks call other groups. The name and its roots seem irrelevant.  

The author's other premise is complex. Herodotus says that people in the area claim that the relief on the mountain depicts Memnon.  Ok.  Let's accept that they do.  

The next step is done by geoffreyM2TW.  He looks at the relief, says it is Hittite in style and dress, and wants to add it to his case for Memnon being Hittite.  He also accepts the people's belief that it depicts Memnon.  This part of his argument comes down to these two premises:

1 Local people told Herodotus the relief depicts Memnon

2 The relief is Hittite 

These two premises can do nothing for the thesis that Memnon is a Hittite unless we accept another premise, namely, that the relief does in fact depict Memnon.  

Locals might have told Herodotus the relief depicted Memnon because Herodotus was interested in Memnon, and they might have told others it depicted whoever they were interested in, such as Xerxes or Midas.  Thus, we need not believe that they believed what they told Herodotus.  

So, while it is interesting to think about the possibility that Memnon was a memory of the Hittites, the case laid out by geoffreyM2TW does not motivate us to believe it.  We need not accept that the relief is of Memnon. We need not accept that it is Hittite. 

One feature geoffreyM2TW did not mention was the size of Memnon's army, which is perhaps the largest Trojan contingent.  Surely the Hittites would have had the largest army?  

24 Anomalies in the Plain of Troy

"From Hısarlık, we can see several other mounds." In Search of the Real Troy