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?  

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

How Big was the Citadel at Troy?

The citadel (little city) or acropolis (upper city) at Troy is very famous but not very big. Its outer walls run in the dark area in the map below. 

On the photo below, I am a little long in both directions.  

Call it 650 by 550 feet.  Below are those same dimensions in more scalable environs.  

Soldier Field, Chicago 

St Peter's Square, Vatican City 

East High School, Denver 

That is all the bigger the bronze age citadel is -- a little bigger than two high school athletic fields side by side.  It would fit within the foot print of most any major sports stadium.  It would fit in St Peter's Square.  

So, imagine Achilles chasing Hector three and a half times around that area, then stopping to fight, because that is what Homer says happened.  One trip around an athletic track in armor while carrying shield and sword would wear out the average man. One trip around the fortress at Troy would be quite a bit more taxing.  

And while you are at it, imagine adding 50k citizens to an already fully developed and fully populated city of that size.  Imagine, in other words, an influx of 50k for a final population of 60k - 70k.  That is the minimal size of the allied forces that Homer says came to defend the Trojans.  Imagine a city like the one below taking in 50k fighters with armor and horses and attendants.  Where do they put them?  

The artist's impression above includes buildings outside the walls.  Nonetheless, it is easy to see that the population of 10 or 15k souls who lived on this hillside in the bronze age did not have the living space to accommodate 50k new inhabitants inside their walls.  

Sunday, April 4, 2021

Dares Phrygius on the Fall of Troy

Troy and the Trojan War were popular in the middle ages, but there was no copy of Homer in the west at that time.  Homer came back into western literature only in the 19th century.  The Destruction of Troy, by Dares Phrygius (DP) was the primary source for those authors who stoked medieval Europe's fascination with, and idealization of the Trojan war.  



I will cite a few things he says about the war, especially about how it started.  But my main question in reading this has been: what does Dares say about the physical city itself?  It turns out that he says very little about it.  The words Xanthus, Scamander, Simois, river, stream, creek, brook, marsh, bog, swamp and bridge do not occur in DP.  

There are several memorable things in this work.   But I will start with a footnote from the translator. 

23. There are eleven truces reported in Dares, lasting, all told, more than seven and a half years.

That is footnote 23, and it is well worth thinking about.  I find the idea of a 10 year siege unrealistic, and adding over 7 years of truces does not help.  Let's look at a passage about a truce.  

The Lycian Sarpedon, leading his men, attacked and caused great slaughter and havoc. The Rhodian Tlepolemus met and resisted Sarpedon, but finally fell badly wounded. Then Pheres, the son of Admetus, came up and, after a long hand-to-hand fight with Sarpedon, was killed. But Sarpedon also was wounded and forced from the battle. Thus for several days there was fighting, and many leaders died on both sides. The Trojan casualties, however, were greater. When they sent envoys to seek a respite for burying their dead and healing their wounded, Palamedes granted a truce of one year.  Both sides buried their dead and cared for their wounded. Their agreement allowed them to go to each other’s areas; the Trojans went to the camp, the Greeks to the city. ... Meanwhile Palamedes was readying the ships and fortifying the camp with walls and towers. The Trojans were training their army, repairing their walls, adding a rampart and ditch, and diligently getting everything ready. (DP 26) 

The Greeks were visiting the city?  Does that sound like the little fortress on Hisarlik?  And why would Trojans visit the Greek camp?  Were they bartering?  Also notable: DP says that the Trojans added a rampart and a ditch during this one year truce, while the Greeks built walls and towers.  

This is a one year truce, there is also a three year truce.  

Agamemnon, seeing the steadily mounting casualties, felt that time was needed for burying the dead. Therefore, he sent Ulysses and Diomedes as envoys to Priam to seek a truce of three years. During this time the Greeks would also be able to heal their wounded, repair the ships, reinforce the army, and gather supplies. ...  When Priam heard of their coming and what they wanted, he called all of his leaders to council. Then he announced that these were envoys Agamemnon had sent to seek a truce of three years. Hector suspected something was wrong. They wanted, he said, a truce for too long a time. Nevertheless, when Priam ordered the embers of the council to give their opinions, they voted to grant a truce of three years.  During the truce the Trojans repaired their walls, healed their wounded, and buried their dead with great honor. After three years, the war was resumed. Hector and Troilus led forth their army. Agamemnon, Menelaus, Achilles, and Diomedes commanded the Greeks. A great slaughter arose, with Hector killing the leaders of the first rank, Phidippus and Antiphus, and Achilles slaying Lycaon and Phorcys. Countless numbers of others fell on both sides, as the battle raged for thirty consecutive days. Priam, seeing that many of his men were falling, set envoys to seek a truce of six months. This Agamemnon, following the will of his council, conceded. With the resumption of hostilities, the battle raged for twelve days. On both sides many of the bravest leaders fell; and even more were wounded, a majority of whom died during treatment. Therefore, Agamemnon sent envoys to Priam to seek a thirty-day truce for burying the dead. Priam, after consulting his council, agreed. (DP 22-23)

This passage describes a three year truce, followed by 30 days of battle, followed by a 6 month truce, followed by 12 days of battle, followed by a 30 day truce.  That is 42 days of battle and 3.5 years of truce.  

But it is not just the truces that stand out.  Consider the claim that "Priam sent Alexander and Deiphobus into Paeonia to raise an army" (DP 8).  This makes it sound like it is not so much that the Paeonians joined the Trojans, but that the Trojans recruited some of them.  

Then Priam asked for other opinions: Would anyone like to speak against war? Thereupon Panthus, addressing himself to the king and his party, told what he had heard from his father, Euphorbus: If Alexander brought home a wife from Greece, Troy would utterly fall.  It was much better, he said, to spend one’s life in peace than to risk the loss of liberty in war.  Panthus’ speech won the contempt of the people, and they asked the king what had to be done. When he told them that they must build ships to go against Greece and gather supplies for the army, they cried out that they were ready to obey any order he gave them. For this he thanked them profusely, and then dismissed the assembly.  Soon afterwards he ordered men to go to the forests of Ida and there cut wood for building the ships; and he sent Hector into Upper Phrygia to levy an army.
When Cassandra heard of her father’s intentions, she told what the Trojans were going to suffer if Priam should send a fleet into Greece.  Soon preparations were made. The ships were built, and the army which Alexander and Deiphobus had raised in Paeonia had come.  (DP 8-9) 

According to Dares, the king of Troy levied armies, built ships and intended to go against Greece in order to free his sister, Hesione, who had been taken captive when Hercules sacked Troy some years earlier.  However, before sending the armies he already raised, he sends Alexander to visit the demi-gods Castor and Pollux in Sparta.  But this does not go well.  Alexander stops at the island of Cythera.  

While Alexander was on Cythera, Helen, the wife of Menelaus, decided to go there. Thus she went to the shore, to the seaport town of Helaea, intending to worship in the temple of Diana and Apollo. Alexander, on hearing that she had arrived, wanted to see her. Confident in his own good looks, he began to walk within sight of her. When Helen learned that the Alexander who was the son of King Priam had come to Helaea, she also wanted to see him. Thus they met and spent some time just staring, struck by each other’s beauty.  Alexander ordered his men to be ready to sail that night. They would seize Helen in the temple and take her home with them.  Thus at a given signal they invaded the temple and carried her off – she was not unwilling – along with some other women they captured. The inhabitants of the town, having learned about the abduction of Helen, tried to prevent Alexander from carrying her off. They fought long and hard, but Alexander’s superior forces defeated them. After despoiling the temple and taking as many captives as his ships would hold, he set sail for home.  (DP 10)  

As Dares tells it, Priam's armies never went to Greece even though at least one of them apparently arrived in Troy. Only Alexander and his royal ships went to Greece, and they returned with Helen, as many captives as they could carry, and spoils from the temple.  Btw, "Diana and Apollo" combines a Roman with a Greek deity.  Artemis and Apollo would be two Greek names.  

Castor and Pollux are semi-divine savior types, credited with saving those in trouble at sea or in warfare.  They are twins.  They have twin semi-divine sisters, Clytemnestra (wife of Agamemnon, king of Mycenae), and Helen (wife of Menelaus, king of Sparta, but better known as Helen of Troy).  All four are offspring of Zeus.  Agamemnon and Menelaus are also brothers.  

So, Alexander is supposed to go to the two semi-divine brothers for help getting back king Priam's sister Hesione, whom Hercules abducted from Troy.  But instead, he abducts one of their semi-divine sisters.  A trade of Helen for Hesione at this point should be possible.  But it never happens.  

Castor and Pollux, immediately upon learning of their sister Helen’s abduction, had set sail in pursuit. When, however, they landed on the island of Lesbos, a great storm arose and, lo and behold, they were nowhere in sight. That was the story. Later, people thought that they had been made immortal. The Lesbians, taking to the sea and searching even to Troy, had returned to report that they found no trace of Castor or Pollux. (DP 11) 

Helen's brothers disappeared while chasing her abductors across the sea.  

Meanwhile Priam, having learned that the Greeks were preparing for war, sent men throughout Phrygia to enlist the support of the neighboring armies. He himself zealously readied his forces at home.  (DP 15) 

That is the second time Priam raises troops in Phrygia.   

On arriving at Aulis, Agamemnon appeased the goddess Diana. Then he commanded his followers to sail onwards to Troy. Philoctetes, who had gone with the Argonauts to Troy, acted as pilot. Then they landed at a city which was ruled by King Priam. They took it by storm and carried off much booty. On coming to the island of Tenedos, they killed all the people, and Agamemnon divided the booty. Then, having called a meeting of the council, he sent envoys to Priam to ask for the return of Helen and the booty Alexander had taken; Diomedes and Ulysses were chosen to go on this mission. At the same time Achilles and Telephus were sent to plunder Mysia, the region ruled by King Teuthras. (DP 15-16) 

At this point, the Greek contingent has raided two shores and sent Achilles to raid the coast south of the Troad.  As Dares tells it, Telephus became king of Mysia after he saved King Teuthras from the wrath of Achilles.  

Meanwhile the envoys had come to Priam, and Ulysses stated Agamemnon’s demands. If Helen and the booty, he said, were returned and proper reparations were made, the Greeks would depart in peace.  Priam answered by reviewing the wrongs the Argonauts had done: the death of his father, the sack of Troy, and the capture of his sister Hesione. He ended by describing how contemptuously the Greeks had treated Antenor when sent as his envoy. He, therefore, repudiated peace. He declared war and commanded that the envoys of the Greeks be expelled from his boundaries. Thus the envoys returned to their camp on Tenedos and reported what Priam had answered. And the council discussed what to do. (DP 17) 

The exchange of Helen for Hesione will never take place.  

The war is provoked by humans, according to Dares, without gods or magic intervening.  Hercules sacked Troy and carried off Hesione.  The war then arises in the wake of Priam's attempts to retrieve Hesione, and from Alexander's snatching Helen and despoiling the temple at Cythera.  Priam actually raises armies to retrieve Hesione, just as the Greeks later raise armies to retrieve Helen, and earlier, Hercules raised armies to take revenge on Troy for being unwelcoming toward the Argonauts.  

So, what does Dares say about the physical city?  In the following passage, King Priam is plotting to kill Aeneas and other traitors.  

Begging Amphimachus to be faithful and true, he told him to gather a band of armed men. This could be done without any suspicion. As for his part, tomorrow after going to the citadel to worship as usual, he would invite those men to dine with him. Then Amphimachus, along with his band, must rush in and kill them. (DP 38)  

The following passage ends the climactic scene in DP.   

During the whole night the Greeks did not cease wreaking slaughter and carrying off plunder. With the coming day, Agamemnon called all of his leaders to a meeting on the citadel. (D 41f)

These two passages distinguish the citadel from the rest of Troy.  These are the most important remarks Dares makes about the city of Troy.  

He says that the Trojans added a rampart and a ditch during one of the truces.  He mentions the city walls (the word wall or walls appears 6 times), but does not describe them.  He mentions the gates of the city, especially the the Scaen Gate, which featured a carved horse head.  (The word gate appears 11 times).  

He [Priam] 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. (DP 4) 

When they had sworn to this promise, Polydamas gave them instructions. At night, he said, they must lead the army to the Scaean gate – the one whose exterior was carved with a horse’s head.  Antenor and Aeneas would be in charge of the guard at this point, and they would open the bolt and raise a torch as the sign for attack. (DP 40) 

That is six gates and a palace containing a temple of Jupiter. Dares also mentions a temple of Minerva in which some characters hid after the war.  And he mentions a temple of Apollo built outside the gates of the city.   In the following passage, Queen Hecuba is plotting to kill Achilles. 

She would summon Achilles, in Priam’s name, to come to the temple of the Thymbraean Apollo in front of the gate, to settle an agreement according to which she would give him Polyxena to marry. When Achilles came to this meeting, Alexander could treacherously kill him. Achilles’ death would be victory sufficient for her. (DP 34)

So, Dares says there is a temple of Apollo outside one of the 6 gates of Troy.  As noted in an earlier post, the anonymous medieval manuscript known as the Excidium claims that the Greeks built a temple of Minerva (Athena) outside the walls of the city of Troy. 

Agamemnon and Menelaus besieged Troy with a thousand ships and ten dukes, where they erected a temple of Minerva outside the walls, and sought counsel on what should be the future for them. The answer to them was: unless through Achilles, son of Peleus and Tethys, there will be no way that Troy could be breached. (Excidium print edition page 9



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 ...