Sunday, January 24, 2021

The City as Explanatory Hypothesis

An explanandum is a sentence containing something that needs to be explained. An explanans is a sentence containing something that explains an explanandum.  

Try writing sentences that can explain one or more of the following sentences.  


1. There is an ancient, artificial cut through the coastline at Lisgar Marsh, due west of Hisarlik.  

2. The valley of the Ciplak rivulet rises as it approaches the valley of the Mendere. 

3, The Dumreck valley rises as it approaches the valley of the Mendere.  

4. There are huge, unnatural berms, mounds and declivities west and southwest of Kalifat. 

5,  The ground rises and turns NW of Kalifat.

6.  The ground rises and falls between Hisarlik and the Mendere.  

7. The ground rises and falls twice between the Dumreck valley and the Mendere. 


A city built to survive floods is buried in the plain in front of Hisarlik. 

Accounting for the explanation: 

1 The Kesik Cut drains Lisgar Marsh so that it does not overflow in the direction of the city

2,3 each valley rises where it encounters the city

4 those are flood control works protecting the city

5,6,7 that is the mound containing the buried city 

Friday, January 22, 2021

Legends of Troy: Hercules Sacks Troy

A very persistent rumor about Troy is that it was sacked.  There are several stories to that effect, including the Iliad.  There are at least three distinct legends about Hercules sacking Troy.  I will review the three I know about.  

The first is told by Dares Phrygius (Darius of Phrygia), who is sometimes called the first historian.  Dares connects the story of Jason and the Argonauts with the start of the Trojan War. Hercules is one of the Argonauts.  

Dares Phrygius, 2-4  

[2] When Jason came to Phrygia, he docked at the port of the Simois River, and everyone went ashore.  Soon news was brought to King Laomedon that a strange ship unexpectedly had entered the port of the Simois, and that many young men had come in it from Greece. On hearing this, the king was disturbed. Thinking that it would endanger the public welfare if Greeks began landing on his shores, he sent word to the port for the Greeks to depart from his boundaries. If they refused to obey, he would drive them out forcibly.
Jason and those who had come with him were deeply upset at the barbarous way Laomedon was treating them; they had done him no harm. Nevertheless, they were afraid to oppose him. They were not ready for battle and would certainly be crushed by the greater forces of the barbarians.
Thus, reembarking, they departed from Phrygia. And set out for Colchis. And stole the fleece. And returned to their homeland.
[3] Hercules was deeply upset at the insulting way Laomedon had treated him and those who had gone with Jason to Colchis. He went to Sparta and urged Castor and Pollux to help him take vengeance against Laomedon, saying that if they promised their aid, many others would follow. Castor and Pollux promised to do whatever he wanted.
He departed with them and went on to Salamis. There he visited Telamon and asked him to join the expedition against Troy, to avenge the ill-treatment he and his people had suffered. Telamon promised that he was ready for anything Heracles wanted to do.
He set out from Salamis and went on to Phthia. There he asked Peleus to join the expedition against Troy. Peleus promised to go.
Next he went to Pylos to visit Nestor. When Nestor asked why he had come, Hercules answered that he was stirred to seek vengeance and that he was leading an army against Phrygia. Nestor praised him and promised his aid.
Hercules, knowing that he had everyone’s support, readied his ships and gathered an army. When the time for sailing was right, he sent letters to those he had asked and told them to come in full force. On their arrival, they all set sail for Phrygia.
They came to Sigeum at night. Hercules, Telamon, and Peleus led the army into the country, leaving Castor, Pollux, and Nestor behind to guard the ships.
When news was brought to King Laomedon that the Greek fleet had landed at Sigeum, he took command of the cavalry himself and went to the shore and opened hostilities.
But Hercules, having gone on to Troy, was beginning to besiege the unsuspecting inhabitants of the city. When Laomedon learned what was happening at home, he tried to return immediately. But the Greeks stood in his way, and Hercules slew him.
Telamon proved his prowess by being the first to enter Troy. Therefore, Hercules gave him the prize of King Laomedon’s daughter Hesione.
Needless to say, all those who had gone with Laomedon were killed.
At this time Priam was in Phrygia, where Laomedon, his father, had put him in charge of the army.  
Hercules and those who had come with him plundered the country and carried much booty off to their ships. Then they decided to set out for home. Telamon took Hesione with him.
[4] When news was brought to Priam that his father had been killed, his fellow-citizens decimated, his country plundered, and his sister Hesione carried off as a prize of war, he was deeply upset to think that the Greeks had treated Phrygia with such contempt. He returned to Troy, along with his wife, Hecuba, and his children, Hector, Alexander, Deiphobus, Helenus, Troilus, Andromache, Cassandra, and Polyxena. (he had other sons by concubines, but only those by lawfully wedded wives could claim a truly royal lineage.) Arriving in Troy, he saw to the maximum fortification of the city, built stronger walls, and stationed a greater number of soldiers nearby. Troy must not fall again, as it had under his father, Laomedon, through lack of preparedness.
He also constructed a palace, in which he consecrated an altar and statue to Jupiter; sent Hector into Paeonia; and built the gates of Troy – the Antenorean, the Dardanian, the Ilian, the Scaean, the Thymbraean, and the Trojan.
When he saw that Troy was secure, he waited until the time seemed right to avenge the wrongs his father had suffered. Then he summoned Antenor and told him he wished him to go as an envoy to Greece. The Greek army, he said, had done him grave wrongs by killing his father, Laomedon, and by carrying off Hesione. Nevertheless, if only Hesione were returned, he would cease to complain.

The "port of the Simois " is presumably somewhere on the Dardanelles below Troy, because the Simois is thought to be the river that passes to the north of Hisarlik, now known as the Dumbrek, and sometimes called the Thymbrius or Thimbreck.  That river now exits the Trojan plain alongside the others into the Dardanelle straits.  The "Thymbrean" gate of Troy would presumably have faced Thymbra, which is two miles east of the fortress of Troy, in the valley to the north of Hisarlik, and is home to the Temple of Apollo Thymbrius that is mentioned in stories about the trojan war.   

Hercules is offended by the anti-Greek prejudice of Laomedon.  He raises an army and recruits kings to his cause.  They sail to Sigeum, which is around four miles NW of Hisarlik on the far side of the Scamander valley.  Laomedon takes the cavalry to Sigeum.  But only the Greek navy is there to meet him, because Hercules and his cohorts have already taken the army "into the country."  With Laomedon away at the sea shore, Hercules and the army attack the undefended city.  When Laomedon returns, he and his force are slain.  Priam returns from Phrygia, rebuilds Troy, and begins a process that results in what we know as the Trojan War. According to Darius, the war is provoked by Priam, as revenge for his father's death at the hands of Hercules, and for the kidnapping of his sister, Hesione.  

In a second legend, told by Apollodorus, Hercules, Telamon and an army sack the city for no obvious reason. 

After his servitude, being rid of his disease he mustered an army of noble volunteers and sailed for Ilium with eighteen ships of fifty oars each.  And having come to port at Ilium, he left the guard of the ships to Oicles and himself with the rest of the champions set out to attack the city. Howbeit Laomedon marched against the ships with the multitude and slew Oicles in battle, but being repulsed by the troops of Hercules, he was besieged. The siege once laid, Telamon was the first to breach the wall and enter the city, and after him Hercules. But when he saw that Telamon had entered it first, he drew his sword and rushed at him, loath that anybody should be reputed a better man than himself. Perceiving that, Telamon collected stones that lay to hand, and when Hercules asked him what he did, he said he was building an altar to Hercules the Glorious Victor. Hercules thanked him, and when he had taken the city and shot down Laomedon and his sons, except Podarces, he assigned Laomedon's daughter Hesione as a prize to Telamon and allowed her to take with her whomsoever of the captives she would. When she chose her brother Podarces, Hercules said that he must first be a slave and then be ransomed by her.  So when he was being sold she took the veil from her head and gave it as a ransom; hence Podarces was called Priam.  Apollodorus, Bibliotheke 2.5.9 

This story involves Laomedon going "against the ships" but ending up "beseiged" while Telamon attacked the city, followed by Hercules.  So, in both of these stories Laomedon is drawn to the empty ships instead of attacking the invading army, which then enters the city facing little resistance.  In this second story Hercules "shot down" Laomedon, which is a nice touch because Hercules is an expert bowman.  

A third legend, and apparently the most widely known, has Hercules sacking Troy as revenge for not being paid by its king.  

When Laomedon refused to give the gods Apollo and Poseidon a promised reward for building the walls of Troy, they sent a pestilence and a sea monster to ravage the land. An oracle revealed to Laomedon that the only way to save Troy would be to sacrifice his daughter Hesione, so Hesione was bound to a rock to await her death. But the Greek hero Heracles, who happened to be at Troy, offered to kill the sea monster and rescue Hesione in exchange for Laomedon’s divine horses. (Zeus himself had given the horses to Tros, Laomedon’s grandfather, in exchange for the beautiful youth Ganymede—Tros’s son and Laomedon’s uncle—whom Zeus had kidnapped.) Once Heracles had killed the monster and saved Hesione, however, Laomedon refused to give up the horses. Heracles left Troy and then returned with a band of warriors, captured the city, and killed Laomedon and all his sons except Priam and Tithonus (who was carried off by Eos). Heracles gave Hesione to Telamon, who had fought at his side. (She became the mother of legendary archer Teucer [Teucros, Teucris], who was praised in Homer’s Iliad.) Laomedon was buried near the Scaean Gate, and, according to legend, as long as his grave remained undisturbed, the walls of Troy would remain impregnable. 

In this version, Hercules helps Laomedon, but Laomedon refuses to pay him (as he had refused to pay Apollo and Poseidon earlier).  The gods took revenge on Laomedon by sending a pestilence and a sea monster.  Hercules takes revenge by sacking the city and slaying Laomedon. 

The third of these tales, involving the sea monster, is referred to by Homer at Iliad book XX, line 144f.  I offer two quite different translations; first by Andrew Lang and Walter Leaf, then by A.T. Murray.  

Thus spake the blue-haired god, and led the way to the mounded wall of heaven-sprung Herakles, that lofty wall built him by the Trojans and Pallas Athene, that he might escape the monster and be safe from him, what time he should make his onset from the beach to the plain. There sate them down Poseidon and the other gods, and clothed their shoulders with impenetrable cloud. 

So saying, the dark-haired god led the way to the heaped-up wall of godlike Heracles, the high wall that the Trojans and Pallas Athene had builded for him, to the end that he might flee thither and escape from the monster of the deep, whenso the monster drave him from the seashore to the plain. There Poseidon and the other gods sate them down, and clothed their shoulders round about with a cloud that might not be rent; and they of the other part sat over against them on the brows of Callicolone, round about thee, O archer Phoebus, and Aries, sacker of cities. 

The Fort of Hercules was supposed to have been built with divine assistance to protect Hercules when he fought the sea monster.  

Homer refers to the tale involving the sea monster sent by Poseidon on two more occasions.  At Iliad VII 451 Poseidon recalls that he and Apollo built the walls of Troy.  On another occasion, the two gods discuss their service and Laomedon's treachery at Iliad XXI, 441

But unto Apollo spake the lord Poseidon, the Shaker of Earth: “Phoebus, wherefore do we twain stand aloof? ... Fool, how witless is the heart thou hast! Neither rememberest thou all the woes that we twain alone of all the gods endured at Ilios, what time we came at the bidding of Zeus and served the lordly Laomedon for a year's space at a fixed wage, and he was our taskmaster and laid on us his commands. I verily built for the Trojans round about their city a wall, wide and exceeding fair, that the city might never be broken; and thou, Phoebus, didst herd the sleek kine of shambling gait amid the spurs of wooded Ida, the many-ridged. But when at length the glad seasons were bringing to its end the term of our hire, then did dread Laomedon defraud us twain of all hire, and send us away with a threatening word. He threatened that he would bind together our feet and our hands above, and would sell us into isles that lie afar. Aye, and he made as if he would lop off with the bronze the ears of us both. So we twain fared aback with angry hearts, wroth for the hire he promised but gave us not. It is to his folk now that thou showest favour, neither seekest thou with us that the overweening Trojans may perish miserably in utter ruin with their children and their honoured wives.” 

By Lang and Leaf: 
Then to Apollo spake the earth-shaking lord: “Phoebus, why stand we apart? ... Fond god, how foolish is thy heart! Thou rememberest not all the ills we twain alone of gods endured at Ilios, when by ordinance of Zeus we came to proud Laomedon and served him through a year for promised recompense, and he laid on us his commands. I round their city built the Trojans a wall, wide and most fair, that the city might be unstormed, and thou Phoebus, didst herd shambling crook-horned kine among the spurs of woody many-folded Ida. But when the joyous seasons were accomplishing the term of hire, then redoubtable Laomedon robbed us of all hire, and sent us off with threats. He threatened that he would bind together our feet and hands and sell us into far-off isles, and the ears of both of us he vowed to shear off with the sword. So we went home with angry hearts, wroth for the hire he promised and gave us not. To his folk now thou showest favour, nor essayest with us how the proud Trojans may be brought low and perish miserably with their children and noble wives.” 

Although he earlier claims that both gods built the walls of Troy, here Poseidon says that he built the walls and Apollo tended trojan flocks on Mt Ida.  At the end of a year, Laomedon, the king of Troy, refused to pay them and threatened to cut off their ears and sell them into slavery in the islands.  For this Troy received a plague from Apollo, and a sea monster from Poseidon.  The sea monster problem then leads to a sacking of Troy and the slaying Laomedon by Hercules.  

Below are pics of the famous bronze of Hercules fighting the river god Archelous who has transformed himself into a snake. 

Update: The following page indexes and quotes a bunch of different versions of the legend of Hercules and the sea monster at Troy.  

Homer mentions Hercules at Troy again at Iliad 5.640 f

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Legends of Troy: Brutus of Troy

The story goes that the "Britain" part of "Great Britain" comes from the name of a certain Brutus, who was a Trojan. He is described as a descendent of Aeneus, who was a survivor of the war.  

The Greeks supplied Brutus with a large number of ships and the Trojans departed, landing eventually in Totnes, in Devon. Later, Brutus founded ‘New Troy’ on the banks of the River Thames. ‘New Troy’ would become the great city known today as London. It was Brutus who gave his name to the island and caused it to be called Britain. He decreed that the people would henceforth be called Britons and the language British.

That is an outline of the story.  Where did it come from?   

The myth of Brutus has no basis in real history but was invented in the Dark Ages to provide Britain with a noble origin linked to the great mythologies of Rome and Greece, and in about 1135 Geoffrey of Monmouth developed his story and asserted that he founded London as Trinovantum, the new Troy in the West.

The Wikipedia article on Brutus relates several different genealogies and tales, and I will not repeat all of that. But I will quote them here:

Early translations and adaptations of Geoffrey's Historia, such as Wace's Norman French Roman de Brut, Layamon's Middle English Brut, were named after Brutus, and the word brut came to mean a chronicle of British history. One of several Middle Welsh adaptations was called the Brut y Brenhinedd ("Chronicle of the Kings"). Brut y Tywysogion ("Chronicle of the Princes"), a major chronicle for the Welsh rulers from the 7th century to loss of independence, is a purely historical work containing no legendary material but the title reflects the influence of Geoffrey's work and, in one sense, can be seen as a "sequel" to it. Early chroniclers of Britain, such as Alfred of Beverley, Nicholas Trivet and Giraldus Cambrensis began their histories of Britain with Brutus. The foundation myth of Brutus having settled in Britain was still considered as genuine history during the Early Modern Period, for example Holinshed's Chronicles (1577) considers the Brutus myth to be factual.
The 18th-century English poet Hildebrand Jacob wrote an epic poem, Brutus the Trojan, Founder of the British Empire, about him, following in the tradition of the Roman foundation epic the Aeneid.  Brutus is an important character in the book series The Troy Game by Sara Douglass.
Geoffrey's Historia says that Brutus and his followers landed at Totnes in Devon. A stone on Fore Street in Totnes, known as the "Brutus Stone", commemorates this.

A history of the Brits was called a brut.  And thus Brutus is thought to have have lent his name not only to the island and its inhabitants, but also to the term used to name histories of the island and its people.  

Another level of the legend involves two stones, the so-called London Stone, and the Brutus Stone in Totnes.  The latter of these is supposed to come from the place where Brutus first touched the shores of England.  Because people used to stand on this stone to make announcements, known as bruiters, its name recalls both the founder and the function.  This stone is a simple tourist attraction. 

The London Stone is another story.  It is often confused with the Brutus Stone.  The confusion might arise from their having a similar function. Both were bruiters stones. So, by the steady but mysterious laws of the transmigration of homophones, each was a Brutus Stone.  But then:

The Short English Metrical Chronicle, an anonymous history of England in verse composed in about the 1330s, which survives in several variant recensions (including one in the so-called Auchinleck manuscript), includes the statement that "Brut sett Londen ston" – that is to say, that Brutus of Troy, the legendary founder of London, set up London Stone. This claim suggests that interest in the Stone's origin and significance already existed. However, the story does not seem to have circulated widely elsewhere, and was not repeated in other chronicles.

There is at least this one connection between the London Stone and Brutus in the literature, beyond the mere similarity between his name and the word bruiters.  

Meanwhile, in 1798 John Carter referred to the London Stone as ‘the symbol of this great City’s quiet state … “fixed to its everlasting seat”’. Following him, Thomas Pennant said in 1793 that the London Stone was ‘preserved like the Palladium of the City’. That was no more than a metaphor, but in 1828 Edward Brayley elaborated this, commenting that the London Stone was ‘like the Palladium of Troy [and] the fate and safety of the City was argued to be dependent on its preservation’.

The Palladium, eh?  That was an ancient, wooden image of Pallas Athene which allegedly fell from heaven into Troy.  On it the fate of Troy, and later the fate of Rome, were thought to hang.  It was not long before the London Stone was thought to be not merely like the Palladium, but in fact a part of the Palladium.   

The man who effected the transformation was the Reverend R.W. Morgan in his The British Kymry: or Britons of Cambria (1857)—an amazingly imaginative work which attempted to reclaim London for Welsh culture. Morgan seized on the idea that the London Stone had been the pedestal of the original Palladium. Brutus had brought it with him from Italy and placed it in Diana’s temple, and ‘on it the British kings were sworn to observe the Usages of Britain. It is now known as “London Stone”.’ This presupposes that Aeneas had managed to lug it out of Troy during the city’s destruction, something Virgil does not mention, and that Brutus (who, in the myth, was Aeneas’s great grandson) had been able to take it with him when he was exiled from Italy – which is rather ridiculous – and that it stayed with him throughout his wanderings.

This move sees the London Stone as an actual sacred object from Troy, not just a rock associated with a person from Troy.  In 1937 Lewis Spence wrote about the stone in Legendary London.  

Unaware that Morgan had made this up less than eighty years before, Spence wrote knowingly of the stone as ‘the original communal fetish [stone] of London which represented the guardian spirit of the community’. Subsequent writings about the London Stone have built on this and have helped carry the myth of Brutus forward, wonderfully alive, into the twenty-first century.

So the legend of Brutus and the London Stone continue to grow, even though historians and researchers find the entire affair unlikely.  


Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Is this Homer's Throsmos?

I have searched the internet for pictures looking west or southwest from Hissarlik. I have not found much. 

However, there are lots of pics looking pretty much due north from Schliemann's trench. These photos do not capture the plain of the Scamander/Mendere.  

There are also a few looking northwest.  All of these northwest looking shots reveal an unexplained mound at the meeting of the two plains northwest of Hissarlik.  That mound is a good candidate for Homer's Throsmos, a swelling of the plain on which the 50k strong Trojan army camped on the night before an assault on the Greek ships. It is also the only candidate for the tell of the city in the plain of Troy.  

In the picture above, the land rises north-northwest of Hissarlik at the meeting of the two plains. 

In the photo above, the land rises at the left of the frame, before the village. 

The photo above clearly reveals a mound as the roads rise north-northwest of Hissarlik. Out beyond the northernmost road, we see the meeting of the plains as it would appear closer to Hissarlik if there were not an artificial mound in the way.  That area of the photo shows us what level things would be at, and what they should/would look like if not for human interventions.  

Is it the throsmos?  Well, at least it is in the plain. 

The interpretation above from Walter Leaf places the throsmos exactly where we have been looking in the earlier photos, NNW of Hissarlik, at the meeting of the two plains.   

If there was a lump in the plain big enough for 50k men to camp on (with their horses and chariots) then what on earth caused that lump?  

In the photo above, the ground rises in the top left of the frame, between the labels for Schliemann's Trench and The Mound of Hissarlik.  What lies between them is the mound of the city in the plain.  

Again, why does one go uphill when driving past Hisarlik to the west?  My answer: because the road is mounting a buried city.  What other plausible explanation is there? 

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Ten Bullets for the City in the Plain at Troy

1. There is an anomaly in the plain directly in front of the citadel of Troy. The anomaly is a single raised earth phenomenon. It is very large. It has features that suggest human activity, for example, a turn in the earth northwest of Kalifat. To explain the anomaly requires identifying what is under the ground that is causing the ground to lay like it does. Human activity can explain the anomaly, and the anomaly is so large that no other human construction activity can explain it except that which we do when we build a city. 

2. There are several large, raised earth anomalies south of the citadel, including two large hills and a 3000 foot long berm.  There are two declivities west of Kalifat.  These anomalies also require explanation.  Human intervention in the landscape would explain them.  I have suggested that these are flood control structures.  I am willing to argue for a fourth raised earth anomaly near Kalifat, across the Mendere from the long berm. This one is very degraded but looks like it was once a massive earth work.  I have also identified two raised earth anomalies and a declivity farther up the plain, near Pinarbasi.  

3. The raised earth anomaly below the citadel is sculpted in such a way that its sharpest angle, on its southwest corner, divides the waters rushing toward it in flood conditions. 

4. So, the plain of Troy includes both a raised earth anomaly directly in front of the citadel, and a massive ancient flood control system just above it in the plain. 

5. The flood control system argues for the existence of a city nearby in the plain. After all, flood control is about safety.  So, the flood works suggest that there is someone or something to protect. What would that be other than a city in the plain? 

6. The Dumbreck valley floor raises up as it approaches the raised earth anomaly in the Mendere valley. 

7. The valley of the Ciplak rivulet also raises up as it approaches the anomaly in front of the citadel. 

8. The rising floors in the valleys on both sides of the citadel are anomalies. Tributary valleys don't usually do that. They run at roughly the same level as the valleys they enter because the two so often flood at the same time.  The raised ends of these tributary valleys argue for an advanced age for the anomaly in the Mendere valley.  It has been blocking tributary flood paths long enough to build up significant deposition in the two valleys on its eastern side.  

9. The Kesik Cut, which runs through the ridge west of Lisgar Marsh, may be a flood control device intended to drain the marsh, preventing it from overflowing into the west side of the city in the plain. 


In the above diagram (looking east), raised earth anomalies are outlined in yellow. Slowed waters are blue.  Flooding waters (red arrows) are blocked above Kalifat, and diverted into the channel flowing past the city. On the east side, flood waters slow and deepen near the city, and flow around the city to the north. 

In the photo below (looking NNW), the roads rise up as they travel from right to left (east to west) and mount the tell of Troy.  The area between the mound and the village shows how the plains should look where they meet. The uprising at the meeting of the two plains is an anomaly that needs to be explained.  

Monday, January 4, 2021

Legends of Troy: Troy Towns

I have looked into the phenomena known as Troy Towns.  Troy Towns, or Troytowns, are labyrinths laid out usually with stones or in cut turf for people to walk in.  Labyrinths differ from mazes.  A labyrinth has one and only one path through it, while a maze offers many avenues.  Today there are not as many Troy Towns as there used to be, and they are mostly tourist attractions. But in the past they had more meaning.  

The above pics show Troy Towns in respectively Sweden, England and Scilly.  

There are lots of labyrinths.  There are Native American labyrinthsRoman labyrinthsSouth African labyrinths, and lots more.  There is even a labyrinth locator.  

Some Troy Towns bear other names such as Jerusalem, Ninevah or Babylon (Vavylon in Russia, where the B makes a V sound).  They seem to have been especially numerous in the north, especially England, the Baltic Sea and the White Sea shores.  The purpose of these constructions is not fully clear.  There are plenty of things to read on the topic, and lots of interesting pictures.  Including, for example, an extensive site about Swedish Troy Towns (in English):  

My first and most pressing question in this area is, do Troy Towns have anything to do with the ancient city of Troy?  It is not clear that they do. Here is a quote from Troytowns by Haye Hamkens

Ernst Krause cites, in connexion with the name Trojaburg or Troytown, the Old German “drajan”, the Gothic “thraian”, the Celtic “troian” and the Middle English “throwen”. In addition there are the Anglo-Saxon “thrawan”, the Dutch and Low German “draien”, the Danish “drehe” and the Swedish “dreja”, and the English “throe”. All these words mean “turn” and were applied to the twists and turns of the layout. Perhaps also the “Wunderberg” used in the March of Brandenburg is a corruption of an earlier “Wenderberg”, in which case the word “wenden” (to turn around) would be the origin. The Low German word “traaje” also belongs here. It denotes a deep wagon track, a rut, and nowadays may be replaced by the word “spoor” (same in English). As a verb it means to follow in the track of another. In pronunciation the double a changes, as in the Nordic languages, to an almost pure O, so that “traajen” is pronounced like “trojen”. From here the inference would extend to the tracks, dug in the earth or formed from stones, which one must follow on entering the Troytown. When one views the spirals cut in the turf, which look like the tracks formed by a wagon, the relationship cannot be denied. 

Full disclosure: the above work (in German) originally appeared in Germanien, which was a Nazi magazine, in the 1940s.  The analysis shows that the word Troy in "Troy Towns" may be overdetermined with far more meanings than are needed to motivate the designation.  A connection to the ancient city of Troy certainly need not be the only meaning, nor the primary one, nor any part of it, actually.  

All of the derivations are Germanic, however, and it may be that the practice of naming walkable labyrinths after the city of Troy preceded these Germanic uses, perhaps in Latin or another language, such as Etruscan.  

My next question is about the history of Troy Towns.  Part of that involves the history of their main element, the labyrinth.  Labyrinths differ from mazes. A labyrinth has only one path through it. A maze has more than one.  The classical labyrinth has a near-circular shape.  

There is an algorithm for producing a classical labyrinth, exemplified in the following gif figure. 

The above pics are from labyrinthos.  The classical patterns have a long history.  

At the current time, the earliest example of the labyrinth symbol, for which an accurate and precise date can be determined, is on a Linear B inscribed clay tablet from the Mycenaean palace at Pylos in southern Greece.

Accidentally preserved by the fire that destroyed the palace c.1200 BCE, the front of the tablet records deliveries of goats to the palace, the square labyrinth scratched on the reverse is clearly a doodle by the scribe. It is interesting that this earliest example should be found at the traditional home of King Nestor, who with Menelaos, raised the fleet of 'long black ships' to assist in the siege and subsequent downfall of Troy (dated by most scholars to c.1250 BCE), as recorded in Homer's Iliad.

The depiction of a labyrinth on an Etruscan wine jar from Tragliatella, Italy, dating from the late 7th century BCE, shows armed soldiers on horseback running from a labyrinth with the word TRVIA (Troy) inscribed in the outermost circuit. This popular connection between the labyrinth and the defenses of Troy (and indeed other fabled cities) has continued throughout the history of the labyrinth, wherever it is found.

Other finds point to an early spread of the labyrinth symbol around the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. Two labyrinths scratched on a wall amidst the ruins at Gordion in central Turkey can be confidently dated to c.750 BCE and labyrinths recorded amongst rock art panels at Taouz in Morocco have been tentatively dated to c.500 BCE. Elsewhere, labyrinth graffitos and inscriptions have been found at Delos in Greece, in Egypt and Jordan, the majority dating from the first four centuries BCE and clearly the result of Greek and Roman colonization and trading influences in the region.


Tragliatella Wine Jug
From the Tragliatella Wine Jug

The Tragliatella Wine Jug suggests that the word Troy was associated with labyrinths in ancient times.  Suggests, not proves.  The other side of the jug portrays another scene of what may in fact be a Troy Dance (which is the subject of a future post).  The Etruscans were rumored to be descended from the Trojans.  And Gordion, the Phrygian capitol, is not far from Troy.  

Now that we know a little about the history of Labyrinths, how about the history of Troy Towns in particular?  A Troy Town is a labyrinth laid out on the ground for people to walk in.  "Troy Town" is just a name for these things.  What does the world know about the origins of the practice of making walkable labyrinths, regardless of what they were called?  

Many of the stone labyrinths around the Baltic coast of Sweden were built by fishermen during rough weather and were believed to entrap evil spirits, the "smågubbar" or "little people" who brought bad luck. The fishermen would walk to the centre of the labyrinth, enticing the spirits to follow them, and then run out and put to sea.

This passage suggests that the walkable labyrinth had mystical purposes.  They are frequently found by the sea, and they might go back pretty far.  

The period at which Troytowns were laid out has been the subject of lively debate. Dr Aspelin of Finland places Troytowns in the Bronze Age, while the Russian researcher Yelisseyev considers them even older. Dr Nordström of Stockholm was of the opinion that the designs were Christian ones, which were later transferred from churches into the open air. He based this interpretation on the fact that in many old Italian and French churches such mazes still exist as pavement mosaics. However, this must be erroneous, for Pliny reports in his Natural History (Book 26, 12, 19) on Troytowns in the open fields in Italy. Also the Greek and Egyptian labyrinths are much older than the Christian church. And it seems strange that such things should have developed when they have no foundation in the Christian religion. Actually the church took over Troytowns as it did many other things that for all its efforts it could not suppress. This is shown for example by the remarkable drawings in the vault of the parish church at Räntmaki in Finland. If the labyrinths set into church floors can at a pinch be explained as “the way to Jerusalem” etc., in the present case any such interpretation is impossible. For at Räntmaki the Troytown is drawn on the roof of a vault, among other drawings still apparently pagan in style. Thus only one conclusion is possible, that here a pre-Christian usage was taken over and given a new interpretation. Then during the Crusades the name “way to Jerusalem” emerged. To the same period belongs an East Prussian tradition of the Order of Teutonic Knights: in front of their castles the knights are said to have laid out mazes which they called “Jerusalem” and which they won in battle from their servants every day, amid laughter and joking. They did this in order to fulfil their vow that pledged them to unceasing struggle for the liberation of Jerusalem. Such is the tradition. It harks back to much older things and customs. And it can hardly be supposed that the knights occupied themselves with the Troytowns, nor constructed them. Much more probably, they built their castles and churches on the sites of such designs, as indeed nearly all old churches and monasteries were located on old sacred sites of pre-Christian times. ... It is a feature of all ancient designs, whether in Greece or Scandinavia, that while the rings have a common centrepoint, they are not exact circles, so that the centrepoint is displaced somewhat downwards. It can safely be assumed that the various windings of the Troytown symbolize the yearly course of the sun. The fact that there are 12 separate rings speaks in favour of this; for there are only a few Troytowns with any other division. The horizontal arms of the clearly visible cross are then perhaps to be regarded as the horizon, so that the various complicated and rather compressed turnings beneath it represent the sun’s path under the earth (during the night). Perhaps this is also the origin of the bad reputation of crossroads, which must similarly have a Pagan basis because otherwise it is quite incomprehensible that the holy symbol of Christianity should be the haunt of the Devil. The crossing point is often occupied by a stone or, in turf-cut designs, marked out as a square baulk. On it sat the imprisoned maiden, who had to be freed, as we know from many customs still in use today. Something of this is preserved in the well-known children’s song “Mariechen sass auf einem Stein” [Mariechen sat on a stone]. From many traditions and legends we know that bewitched people were changed to stone or banished into a rock. It is thus not too much to suppose that the sun as a maiden was exiled to a stone, guarded by a dragon, i.e. the winter, and that a knight, as spring, rescued her. The fact that these battles are often fought out in darkness or under the earth strengthens our hypothesis. For the Troytowns are regularly connected with the tradition of an imprisoned and rescued maiden, as has been briefly mentioned above for the Visby design, where the maiden actually appears as the builder of the maze. That she was kept prisoner under the Galgenberg (gallows hill), just as other Troytowns lie in the neighbourhood of Galgenbergs, again points to a pre-Christian origin and a subsequent satanization. ... In the oldest form of the Greek legend of Troy, Heracles kills the dragon before the gates of Troy and rescues Hesione.

The above is another citation from Hamkens.  His final sentence mentions an old story about Troy.  Poseidon takes revenge on the King of Troy by putting a sea monster in his bay.  Hercules slays the monster, and rescues Hesione, the king's daughter, who had been chosen by lot to be sacrificed to the monster.  

Hamkens believes that the practice of laying out labyrinths to walk and play in is quite ancient.  I have not been able to find the passages in Pliny mentioned above.  An online search for "Troy" in his Natural History returned one hit that was not relevant. And Book 26 is about plants, not Italy.  

I believe the practice of laying out labyrinths for ritual and festival and entertainment purposes probably is an ancient practice, long predating Christianity.  On the age of the practice, I enjoyed a paper called Labyrinths in Pagan Sweden. The paper is based on place names rather than existing labyrinths, and argues that labyrinths were in use in Sweden from at least the early iron age.  

Another connection between Troy and walkable labyrinths has to do with a rumor about the walls of Troy. In Homer, they are strong. In legend, they are complicated, like a labyrinth.  

Caerdroea or Caer Droea is a Welsh word meaning "a labyrinth, a maze; maze cut by shepherds in the sward, serving as a puzzle." It also means "Troy, Walls-of-Troy". Variations include Caer Droia and Caerdroia, the latter being the spelling generally used today.

Because of the similarity between Welsh troeau (a plural form of tro 'turn') and the second element Troea ('Troy'), the name was later popularly interpreted as meaning 'fortress of turns' (caer = 'fort').[citation needed]

Many turf mazes in England were named Troy Town or The Walls of Troy (or variations on that theme) presumably because, in popular legend, the walls of the city of Troy were constructed in such a confusing and complex way that any enemy who entered them would be unable to find his way out.

This is our third connection.  There is the Tagliatella Wine Jug, the story about Hercules and Hesione, and now the story about the complex walls.  That is all we have to connect the city of Troy with the institution of the walkable labyrinth.  

Recall that there are the labyrinths carved at Gordiam 500 years or more after the bronze age collapse. Those labyrinths are at least near Troy.  What about at Troy itself?  

The royal residences of the sixth and seventh city of Troy stood on concentric terraces, so that the innermost district was of a circular construction. This round structure continued in the trenches outside the fortress walls. In antiquity, concentric rings in the form of a labyrinth were in fact closely connected with Troy. Engravings on a wine jug from the Roman city of Tragliatella (around 620 BCE) depict a ceremonial “Troy dance” that was mainly performed when cities in early Italy were founded, and then, significantly, before the city walls were to be erected. Hundreds of stone labyrinths in England and Scandinavia bear names related to Troy, ranging from Troy Town to Trelleborg. Half a century ago, some experts assumed that a maze-like structure would eventually be discovered in the city plan of Troy. It is quite possible that this circular city plan also continued in the floodplain below the castle – and down there the trenches could have taken the form of navigable canals.

Concentric circles are not a labyrinth.  But the connection between Troy and labyrinths could be based on something like it anyway.  Atlantis was supposed to be composed of concentric circles.  And the circles were supposed to be pierced or crossed by one, and only one avenue.  Something like this. 

That design is undeniably similar to those below. 

Am I saying that the Atlantis story describes a labyrinth?  No.  The thesis that the Atlantis story describes a labyrinth is false.  Read it for yourself.  

But the proposition that the labyrinth design and the Atlantis design suggest one another is worth entertaining.  It also offers another way of connecting Troy with labyrinths.  

So now we have four connections: the Tragliatella Wine Jug, the tale of Hercules and Hesione, the rumor about walls so complex that attackers got lost in them, and something about concentric circles pierced by a single pathway.  At least four things might connect the ancient city of Troy with the human passion for walkable labyrinths.  


I found some informative videos about this matter: 

I have nothing at stake in the Troy debates

As explained in my first post above, I am not an archeologist. I am not an historian. I am not a hydrologist. I have no commitments one way or the other on any question in Homer. Ancient literature is not my bag. I prefer ancient history to ancient writers.  As a philosopher, I consider Plato a pox on the discipline. We can discuss his bad metaphysics and politics later.  My twitter handle is @not4plato, and, at age 59, Aristotle is the only ancient writer I have ever warmed up to (NB: I did not say philosopher, I like Socrates, Diogenes, both Zenos, Chrysippus, and some other ancient philosophers, most of whom left little or no writing).  

Homer's accuracy rate as a war correspondent is of no interest to me. His accuracy rate as a describer of the plain of Troy, or of anything else, does not concern me a bit.  It looks to me like he described the springs at Pinarbasi pretty accurately. Perhaps I will do a blog post on that.  I am not alone in that opinion.  Some scholars also think that he described those springs.  I got the idea from them.  Many scholars believe that he also described the citadel at Hisarlik accurately.  Although others might find a problem here, I do not. I figure Homer is probably not just one person anyway.  And even if he was an historical individual, he wove a tale that just happens to imply (if you are looking for his models) that the springs 6 miles away are right in front of the gates of the citadel on Hisarlik. That kind of thing is not much of a price to pay for a good story.  He knew a springs he could describe, and he used what he knew.  They were not right in front of the gates of the fortress in which he set his story, but he put them there anyway.  (And again we only know about this because of the search for his models.)  Or perhaps one of the poets Homer relied on got misinformed, and was told that Pinarbasi was the original site of Troy, and then wrote the parts about the hot and cold springs outside the gates of the city.  It doesn't matter much to me.  I am happy either way.  The Iliad is primarily entertainment, not history.  

I figure that Homer, or the poets that are collected by that name, never saw the great city in the plain at Troy.  It had been obliterated by flooding by the time any of the writers in question saw the locations they described.  I am thinking that what Homer called a swelling of the plain (throsmos) just is the ancient city in the plain at Troy.  It would have been more obvious in his times, only 500 or so years after being destroyed, provided it was destroyed in the late bronze age. I am not very interested in the niceties of the story (i.e., the Greek camp and where Homer says the river is -- Homer is inconsistent with the names of the rivers anyway). There should be no lumps or bumps in a flood plain. If there was one big enough for fifty thousand men to camp on, it was probably a buried city. What does that mean for the poet as war correspondent? There are two possibilities. 1. The city in the plain was buried in mud for hundreds of years by the time of the Trojan War, and the war was fought on top of it as Homer describes it. 2. The city in the plain was destroyed in the late bronze age, and Homer or some other poet saw the city 500 years later as a lump in the plain, and went on to invent a story about camping and fighting on top of the lump.  I don't care which is true.  That does not mean that I do not want to know which is true, just that I have nothing at stake in the answer.  

As for the accuracy of the historical tale, I have never been able to stomach the idea of a ten year naval siege of a city as an historical fact. Nor boats big enough to carry 80 to 100 men that remain sea worthy after laying on their sides on a beach for ten years. Nor thousands of men going to war over a woman.  Nor a city so small that grown men in armor could chase one another around it three and a half times, then stop and fight.  If the city was the size of an American high school athletic track, a quarter mile around, it would be notably smaller than the little city on Hissarlik, but running around it once in armor would be too much for most men.  The final Hector and Achilles scene belongs in theater, not in history. It requires a tower on a stage with two actors running around it while Helen watches from a window.  And Achilles and Ajax belong in myth, not history.  And I don't necessarily enjoy hearing what the gods think.  And a shepherd, or whatever Paris was, who is offered wisdom, power or a woman and chooses the woman is some kind of a fool.  But at least the story includes a hint that the war could have been about power, rather than a woman. 

Do I think there was a Trojan war? I think that question means: do I think there was a conflict that could have been remembered that way?  Of course I think that is possible.  

If I am being asked, did the war Homer described happen or not, I would say I am not aware of which war that is, but probably not.  If that means a ten year siege, then no.  A Trojan horse? Definitely no.  Any of Homer's characters doing what Homer said they did?  Any? Well, no. I do not affirm any of that at all.  Again, I have not read the book since high school. Not a fan of ancient literature. 

None of what I am denying is inconsistent with my also holding that Homer's lines could contain some accurate information.  

There may have been major military operations at Troy several times in its history. The citadel shows signs of that.  One or more of those campaigns might be remembered in a story like Homer's.  

The city in the plain may have gone down in a war.  Maybe in the time Homer is trying to describe.  It may have gone down in a war and been flooded into oblivion 500 years before Agamemnon, too.  Or perhaps it merely met with a flood it could not handle and was never destroyed by looters.  And perhaps this happened in the time of the bronze age collapse. Perhaps it happened long before that. Who knows?  Nobody.  And it will stay that way until archeologists dig into the tell.  After that, we will all know.  

I do not hold to anything that is in conflict with whatever the ultimate answer is.  I have nothing at stake in this.  I found an anomaly by accident.  My sole interest is in getting it investigated by professionals.  

Of course I know a few things, not much though, about Wilusa, Ahhiyawa, the Sea Peoples, the bronze age collapse, the Hittites, the Luwians and what have you.  I don't study that stuff.  But I think about those things now and then.  Could the sacred water system of Wilusa be the water courses of the city in the plain of Troy?  Why not?  They impress me.  They might impress the Hittites too.  Then again, Wilusa might be in southwest Anatolia.  

I would like to know what the people who built that city in the Trojan plain called themselves.  I am only mildly interested in the term Wilusa as compared to that.  

Saturday, January 2, 2021

Yet more anomalies in the plain of Troy

 I have recently discovered more probable flood control interventions in the plain of Troy.  

1.  An anomaly to the east of a berm identified in an earlier post.  

In the photo below, the area I am talking about is bounded by a road on its north side.  It is just south of, and has a shape similar to the hill below Kalifat.  This is kind of small and worn down, but it was surely larger three or four millennia ago.  

2. There is a prominence on the east side of the Mendere, near the top of the plain.  

There are at least three anomalies that need explaining here. 

I have circled a declivity in orange. In yellow two prominences are circled.  I figure these are ancient and that they probably have to do with flood control.  The two prominences can be treated as one problem.  I think they deflect flood waters.  I have no explanation for the declivity.  It might be intended to slow down flood waters by making them fill the declivity before moving forward down the plain. But it seems to be on such a steep incline that it would not stop much water.  The photo might be misleading as to how steep that incline is, however.  

Below is a flood control vision involving the two prominences at the top of the plain. We are looking south east.  

When the Medere is flooding, the water spreads out at the top of the plain. The structures at the top of the plain begin the process of channeling the water so as to get most of it past the city in its least harmful way, namely, in the river bed west of the city.  These structures also divert some water toward the edges of the plain, slowing its approach to the city. So, they divide the flood into three parts, two edges and a center.  

Outlined in yellow below are all seven of the raised earth anomalies I have identified in the plain.  

On Atlantis, Graham Hancock and Ignatius Donnelly

Perhaps the most pernicious habit of Atlantis interpreters is the one pointed out by Dr Miano on Youtube: The typical Atlantis interpreter ...