Monday, December 12, 2022

On the Status of the Argument for the City in the Plain at Troy

Question: did the new, westward looking photos of the plain in front of Hisarlik strengthen the argument for the thesis that there is probably a city buried in the plain of Troy? 

Answer: those photos reinforce and illustrate the proposition that there is an unnatural looking mound in the plain in front of Hisarlik.  The mound still must be explained. The best explanation remains that the mound was caused by a city.  

Question: that's all? 

Answer: well, there has been an objection open to a critic which went like this: you are imagining the rise in the plain, there is no rise, there is no mound, etc.  The new, westward looking stills from the drones put that kind of objection to rest. The unnatural mound is obvious both in satellite and in drone images.  It can be seen from a satellite, from a low flying aircraft and from the ground.  

My original argument starts from the observation that there is a large mound in front of Hisarlik that looks unnatural. The new photos can serve only to reinforce that observation.  

It then proceeds as follows. 

The unnatural mound in front of Hisarlik is a mile wide. 

Ancient humans were unlikely to create anything that would make a mound that big except cities. 

Therefore, the mound probably contains a buried city. 

Given that unnatural features in a landscape can only be explained on the basis of human interventions, the mound in front of Hisarlik must be explained on the basis of one or more human activities, such as hunting, agriculture, horse training, meat preparation, tool making, burial of the dead, religious observance, mining, boat building and so on. My second premise contends that only one human activity could have created a mound that large, and that is the building of cities.  

Test that argument for its strength, but remember it is not the only support I have offered for the thesis that the mound in the plain is probably a buried city.  There are other factors to consider.  

To begin with, there are large mounds upstream from Hisarlik that also need to be explained.  They are so large, in fact, that my second premise might suggest that they are probably cities.  And of course I cannot eliminate the bare possibility that some or all of them are settlement mounds. However, I can argue that it would be a bit odd to have so many cities in a little flood plain like the one at Troy, a mere two by eight miles (six miles in the bronze age).  There are two mounds and a berm near Kalafat, and there are two mounds below Pinarbasi. Together with the mile wide mound in front of Hisarlik, that would make six cities in the plain, which seems like too many. Four of them would be within a mile of one another.  The other two would be right next to one another below Pinarbasi.  Why would they be in those locations?  What makes more sense is that the huge mound below Hisarlik is a single, large city and the five mounds up stream from it, all of which lie along the path of the Karamendere/Scamander river, represent support structures for that city.  Given that the city lies in a flood plain, and flood plains are subject to flooding, it seems reasonable to suspect that the support structures along the river have something to do with water and/or flood control.  

In addition to the mounds and declivities that indicate extensive human intervention in the plain, there are history and legends to consider. These tell of a great city in a plain, not just a little town on a hill.  Troy was supposed to be the richest city in Asia. The king of Troy was called the king of Asia. Homer described it as a rich port. 

There is also a stratigraphy study that found artifacts in drill cores from the plain.  I have not yet found out which cores had artifacts and which did not.  Only a few cores went into the large mound, but what little was found helps my case by suggesting that there are more artifacts to be found there.  

To sum up then: The observation that there is a large, unnatural mound in the plain of Troy is supported by satellite, drone and ground based images.  The thesis that the large mound in front of Hisarlik probably contains the remains of a city is supported by history and legend, by physical artifacts found deep in in the plain, and by two inferences to the best explanation. One of these infers from the large mound to its cause, a city.  The other infers from the existence of other mounds and human interventions in the plain to their cause, support for a city.  


In the photo below, the Tree in front of the Marsh is elevated above the trees that line the canal between segments 3 and 4.  That change in elevation is unnatural and is probably caused by a buried city.  

Looking West in the photo below, Field 1 is significantly elevated above the foot of Hisarlik, while the Tree and Marsh are elevated above Field 1.  The uphill slope running westward from Hisarlik to segment 6 is unnatural and probably caused by human interventions in the plain. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2022

The Unknown Navy of the Trojans

If there is one people whom we know quite a bit about but whom we also simply do not know enough about, it is probably the Trojans -- by which I mean the occupants of Troy during the bronze age. They are famous because of Homer and the Trojan War.  Their citadel has been excavated for 150 years.  We do not know as much about the people who lived there in the bronze age as one might hope based on 150 years of excavations.  Almost no writing has been found.   

One thing I have a hard time accepting is the idea that the Trojans were not a naval power, but a land-based power.  They are known for horses, not boats. I don't know any history of this idea, but I suspect that it grows from the absence of a Trojan navy in Homer. The Greeks land on a shore without a naval battle.  They create a naval station, they do not attack or take over a naval station. They do not attack or invade a harbor.  Homer discusses a land war.  The Trojans are described as keepers of fine horses.  Cavalry, infantry and chariots are the stars of Homer's show.  He does not mention a Trojan navy, so, there must not be one, or at least not an important one.  The thinking here seems to be: if there was an important Trojan navy, there would be signs of it in Homer, but there are no such signs, therefore, there was not one. 

Well, that modus tollens argument is perfectly valid but its premise is false.  It would be quite possible for there to have been an important bronze age navy at Troy, even though there are no signs of it in a  poem written 500 years later. The proposition that a Trojan navy would necessarily have appeared in Homer is simply false.  

I want to offer a few reasons to discard, or at least withhold assent from, the premise that the people who lived in this valley were not a sea faring people.   

1.  They lived at one end of the passageway between two seas. 

Their opening to the Aegean was 14 miles (23 kilometers) from the narrowest point on the straights at Canakkale.  

The area would have looked different in the bronze age.  There would have been a large bay at Troy. Something like the altered photo below.  

I've added a bay and two circles for the citadel and the city,  

I keep thinking that the crossing point at Canakkale surely became important at some time in the bronze age, and that elites would have thought up the idea of controlling it and grifting off of it.  I believe the same thing about the opening to the Aegean sea in front of Troy: some elites would have sought to gain control and enrich themselves there as well.  If those two things happened, there might have been a point in time at which two groups of elites controlled two locations on the straights 14 miles from one another.  If that condition arose, I predict it would not last long, and that eventually one of the groups would win out over the other, and control the entire area between Canakkale and the Aegean sea. Perhaps a city grows wiser and fatter on that, perhaps it turns foolish and self-destructs.  But as long as  it succeeds, it would have a long-term, secure revenue source in the waters off its shore, because those waters are a crossroads.  

2. A city that grows as large as the city in the plain at Troy would not be able to feed itself from its tiny farmlands, and would be forced to import most of its diet.  Bringing all of that food overland to Troy would require traversing mountains and/or crossing the Dardanelle Straits.  Bringing grain or livestock by boat would be more efficient.  

3. Troy had a very strong incentive to trade (for food) and an excellent opportunity to do so (due to its location). Consider this article: ( 

Ever since Heinrich Schliemann discovered Priam’s Treasure in Troy in 1873, the origin of the gold has been a mystery. Professor [Ernst] Pernicka and the international team has now been able to prove that the treasure derived from secondary deposits such as rivers, and its chemical composition is not only identical with that of gold objects from the settlement of Poliochni on Lemnos and from the royal tombs in Ur in Mesopotamia, but also with that of objects from Georgia. “This means there must have been trade links between these far-flung regions,” says Pernicka.

I have marked the areas under discussion on the map below.  

Lemnos is the large island west of the entry to the Dardanelle straits.  I put a dot in the general vicinity of Ur because I am unsure of its exact location on this photo. 

As you can see, these are indeed "far-flung regions".  But gold jewelry examined in these four locations contained metal alloys that are exact matches, and so they probably come from a single source.  

Lemnos, Troy and Georgia could have traded with one another by sea.  Only Ur is landlocked. If Georgia and Lemnos engaged one another in trade by sea, they would have needed to pass through the Troy area to do it.  

Less than fifty miles separated Hisarlik from its probable trading partner in Poliochni.  There are three other islands in this photo. It seems reasonable to assume that Troy would have traded with them as well as with Lemnos.  They are all closer to Troy than Lemnos is.  

Meanwhile, the sea of Marmara is closer than Poliochni, and beyond that lies the entry to the Black Sea.  So, Troy was in easy distance of seven Aegean islands, several islands in the sea of Marmara, and the Bosporus straits at the entry to the Black Sea.  

4. It is doubtful that a great land power/land army could thrive at the entry to the Dardanelle Straits without developing trade links by land and sea alike.  To become a great city they needed great trade, probably with a great many partners.  For this they would have needed a merchant fleet.  Controlling the Dardanelle Straits would have required a military fleet.  

Monday, September 26, 2022

Google Maps Update Impacts our View of Troy

Google has updated their satellite image of the northern part of the plain of Troy, but only the northern part.  The result is not so great if you are interested in studying the whole area.  

Above, a Google image from 2022.  Below, an image from 2020.  

Formerly one at least had a fairly unified view of the plain. There were several pictures linked, and they were not all taken at the same time and in the same light, but most of the plain was viewable in a single hue. 

Google Satellite View is now using the updated 2022 image, and shows a two-tone view of the northern part of the plain of Troy.  You can still see the more unified images among the historical images at Google Earth. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Aerial Drones Reveal Elevation Changes in the Plain of Troy

It has been difficult to find a photo or video online that shows the plain of Troy.  There are lots of photos looking north from Schliemann's trench, but few looking west, into the plain.  I finally got the bright idea to search for drone footage and found some.  So, I now have a small collection of westward looking shots, and a lot to say about them.  

The common photos looking north from the trench usually show the village of Kumkale on a ridge across the Dumbrek valley, and a slope ascending to the left, going uphill onto the mound in the plain.  Below are two drone views looking north over the trench, showing the same souvenir view lots of travelers took home, but from a much elevated position.  

The footage above can be found at Shutterstock, and shows a white van going uphill in the plain.  

The above view of Hissarlik looking ENE shows the same road and valley that we just saw rising as they approach the mound in the plain.  Behind that you can see the valley coming down from the mountains.  It should continue downhill and head out to sea to our left.  Instead, it rises.  

So, the valley north of Hissarlik rises as it passes the citadel.  

Now I want to establish that the ground directly in front of Hissarlik also rises.  Walking west from Hissarlik is an uphill walk.  

The photo above creates four markers, the Marsh, the Tree between Hissarlik and the marsh, a Bridge and Field 1.  Field 1 has a road curving around its south end that then turns east toward Hissarlik.  It is at one end of a row of small fields on the east side of the canal that has the bridge at its other end.  

The following pictures demonstrate that Field 1 is elevated above the foot of Hissarlik.  

If you walk down to the front of Hissarlik and continue west into the plain, you must climb a hill.  The road from Hissarlik to Field 1 runs uphill, just like the road to its north that reaches the bridge.

Field 1 is not "below" Hissarlik in the plain. It is on a hill in the plain across from Hissarlik. From the SE corner of Field 1, you can go downhill in two directions: to the south or to the east.  There are slopes in both directions.  Furthermore, the entire strip of fields starting with Field 1 and leading all the way to the bridge, are elevated.  One has to go uphill to reach them from the east.  

If the photos above have established that the road from Hissarlik to Field 1 runs uphill, we can move on to a further topic.  Examine the land behind Field 1, and notice that it continues to climb. 

From Hissarlik one must walk up 5 segments of incline to reach level 6, where the Tree sits in front of the marsh.  

From Field 1, you have to walk uphill through levels 4 and 5 to reach the marsh on level 6.  So, Field 1 is uphill from the foot of Hissarlik, and the marsh is significantly uphill from there.  

It is indisputable that the ground runs uphill from the foot of Hisarlik to the west.  Furthermore, as these final four photos show, the marsh in the plain of Troy is significantly elevated above even Field 1, which is itself elevated above the foot of Hisarlik. 

The marsh is a low spot in a mound.  

The mound is unnatural and should be investigated by science.  The fact that the marsh is growing suggests that the mound could be collapsing.  

Going west from Hisarlik, one walks uphill from section 1 to section 6, where it might be pretty level, until you approach section 7, where you go downhill into a marsh. You then go uphill again out of the marsh in section 8, and downhill again in sections 9 and 10. You should just go downhill from Hissarlik into a valley that is headed out to sea. But you do not. If you walk west from Hissarlik, you climb an unnatural mound to an unnatural marsh, and then climb out of the marsh and go down the other side of the mound to the river.  

All of that is unnatural, and all of it needs to be explained. The simplest and most obvious explanation is that there is a city in the plain causing the mound.  

FWIW, the unnatural elevation change west of Hissarlik has been captured in art.  

Video Links: 

Monday, August 15, 2022

Documented Growth of the Marsh in the plain of Troy

Historical satellite pictures at Google Earth prove that the marsh in the plain in front of Hisarlik grew larger between 2016 and 2019. 

The photos above are dated in their top left corners.  The first photo is from June, 2016. The second photo is from February, 2019. In the later photo, the marsh has grown a tail at its south end that reaches nearly to the bottom of the photo. This tail still exists in the October, 2020 photo below, which is the latest image available from Google.  The extended portion of the marsh does not occur in any of the earlier images, which go back to 2006. 

I don't have an interpretation of this.  I would expect a marsh that is being drained like this one to shrink rather than grow, but I can't really justify my expectation.  

Perhaps water is undermining the mound. I think the marsh is on top of a buried city, so, I wonder if the land is settling into the ruins below.  But surely marshes expand for reasons other than water and buried ruins.  

It seems certain that agribusiness would be making money on that land if they could. They used to make money from it. All of the historical pictures show planting and harvesting going on in that area, until 2019.  There must be a good reason they are no longer using that land to make money.   

There are no Google images for any years between 2016 and 2019.  Whether the productivity of that land was lost gradually or suddenly we cannot be sure.  The story of how it happened can be known, however, because people involved in agriculture in that area are still alive to be interviewed.  Finding out what happened would be a good topic for a young researcher who speaks Turkish.  

Why would a marsh grow like that? 

Friday, August 12, 2022

A Theory about the Greek Camp in the Iliad

Perhaps it is a myth

Perhaps the idea of the camp is based on looking down from Hissarlik and seeing shapes and even standing stones in the plain. It comes from a time when the existence of the city in the plain had faded from memory, and the citadel on the hill was all that anyone knew for certain.  One explanation for the irregularities and blocks in the plain was that a city had existed in the plain, the other was that the Greeks had built walls and lived behind them for ten years while besieging the city. Eventually, the heroic untruth won out over the boring truth, and Trojan constructions were thought to be Greek after that. 

I have been wanting to write about an anomaly in the plain of Troy that is not among the 17 so far discussed on this blog.  This seems like a good place to bring it up.  There is an unnatural looking, 800 meter long, isolated hill NNW of the great city in the plain.  

This isolated mound lies NW of the citadel around 1.7 miles. The ancient geographer Strabo (1st century bce) tells us that the Greek camp was 20 stades from Troy, which is around 2.2 miles.  The far end of the anomaly lies 2.1 miles from the citadel.  

I don't know what this mound looked like in Strabo's time. But perhaps it seemed more like a construction than a mound at that time.  Before that, it was perhaps a ruin, perhaps a tower and supporting structure.  This would have challenged imaginations to explain it.  Once the idea that the Trojans had lived in the flood plain had been lost, the idea that the ruins in the plain were Greek was easier to accept.  With that, the utterly unlikely story about invaders getting off their boats and building walls and towers could gain currency.  

The alleged Greek camp is not the only theory that might have been invented to explain the irregularities in the plain.  The theory of the Fort of Heracles might also have originally gained life as an explanation for an irregularity in the plain, maybe the one we see above.  Below are two quite different translations of Iliad book XX, line 144f; 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 a sea monster. Could the idea of such a fortress have been based on the mound in the pictures above? It would have been much closer to the shoreline in Homer's time.  

Saturday, July 23, 2022

The problem of Kalifat and Kumkale

Two small villages, Kalifat and Kumkale appear in the plain of Troy on old maps. 

There should be no villages in a flood plain, because they will be wiped out by flooding.  

Yet these two villages lasted in the plain at least a hundred years, from the 1840s to the 1950s, after which they were moved onto the prominences overlooking their old locations.  

I suspect that those two villages could endure in the plain only because they were on high ground.  

This is clearly the case with old Kumkale.  It sat on the northern end of what Walter Leaf thought was the Throsmos, or swelling of the plain, mentioned by Homer.  The location is marked on Leaf's map below, just northwest of Troia.

Below is a map from Heinrich Schliemann.  It places Kum-Kioi where Leaf puts the throsmos.  Nearby is the Burial mound of Illus.

Below is a photo looking northwest over the top of Troia, toward the mound Leaf had in mind.  The mound is visibly rising at the top of the frame, where a canal goes around it.  Nearer to Troy a road climbs the mound from right to left.  

Below is a more recent view to the northwest from Troia.  Again, the rise Leaf was talking about is visible where the canal goes around it on the right and the road climbs the mound in the center. Out beyond the canal is the new village of Kumkale. 

Below is another view to the northwest.  The rising land below the "corbis" watermark in this photo is pretty dramatic.  At the top of the photo you can see the canal going around the end of the mound. 

Below is yet another pic looking northwest across the excavated area at Hissarlik. The new village of Kumkale is clearly visible on the prominence beyond the canal which is curving around the obvious mound on which it formerly sat. A road climbs the mound from right to left.  

Below is another map from Heinrich Schliemann.  It places Kum-keui near two other place names, Ilus and Polion.  It's as if there were three distinct villages there.  

There can be little doubt that the villages in that area were on top of a mound.  The layout and curvature of the roads on Schliemann's map make the huge mound in front of Hisarlik very distinct. 

The original location of Kalafat is harder to discern.  It sat near the pointed, southern end of the great mound in front of Hissarlik. As long as it was on that mound, it would have had some height above the floor of the valley.  Schliemann's map above places it at the meeting place of two roads. The map below places "Kalifatlee" in a similar location.  

The map below seems to agree on the location of old Kalafat. 

The map from Thomas Spratt below also puts Kalifatli on the edge of the winter channel of the Scamander. 

Finally, on the map below we have Eski (old) Kalafat Koy (village) Yeri (location) marked right next to the Scamander.  This map places the original location of the village in what Spratt called the winter channel in which the Mendere/Scamander runs today.  

I think it is easy to say why Kumkale survived in the plain (it was on a mound) but I cannot say why Kalafat survived in the plain, because it does not appear to have been on the mound.  It appears to have been either in the winter channel or right next to it.  

If Kalafat was not on a mound, then how did it survive floods? 

Below is a modern satellite photo with the approximate locations of the old villages marked.

The two villages used to sit at opposite ends of the great mound in front of Hissarlik.  Whether Kalafat was actually on the mound is questionable.  Perhaps part of it was.  Somehow Kalafat survived floods for over a century or more.  If it was not saved from flood destruction year after year by being on a hill, then perhaps the mounds around it protected it.  In other words, perhaps the ancient flood control works in the plain protected the old location of the village.  

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

How the Trojans Diverted Kamer Creek

After my recent speculations about the diversion of the Scamander, I went searching with Google Earth for a place at which the Trojans might have diverted Kamer Creek to form Lake Judan. I did not expect to find anything, but it turns out there is an anomaly right next to the creek at the crucial point along the creek where it needs to turn to form the lake.    

A yellow line encircles a long, straight berm-like anomaly.   It tapers into the rocky prominence on the left.  Kamer creek passes along its right edge.  

In the photo below, Kamer Creek is diverted into the berm-like anomaly, and then around the rocky prominence.  

Light blue dashes indicate the rest of the current course of Kamer Creek.  

In the diagram above, the yellow lines represent dams.  Blue dots are reservoirs.   A lake at the area of the dot on the right would get the creek to flow around the prominence on the left of the dam, and then to run down to the plain in the direction of Judan Lake, which is the dot on the far left.  

So, the Trojans could have diverted Kamer Creek with a berm and a dam spanning two prominences.  

In the diagram above, light blue lines represent dams.  Blue dots represent probable reservoirs.  Dark blue lines represent diverted water ways. Blue circles represent known marshes, and possible reservoirs. Yellow circles mark the citadel and the greater city in the plain of Troy.  

Below is a map from Heinrich Schliemann.  It uses the name Old Scamander twice on the eastern edge of the plain.  Once where the Kalifatli Asmak reaches the sea, and another time near the top of the plain, where he seems to be only labeling the eastern most fork of the drainage from lake Judan.  

If the Trojans diverted Kamer Creek to form lake Judan and then to flow past the eastern side of the city in the plain, and under Hissarlik, it would explain the deep bed that Schliemann appealed to when he argued that the Scamander used to run in front of Hissarlik.  He argued for that on the basis of the very deep bed at those points along the Asmak.  

So, my theory seems to explain two things.  It explains how the beach at Besik Bay was created by diverting the Scamander into the Pinarbasi Su.  It also explains the deep beds that Schliemann saw.  Those could have been made by Kamer Creek.  

It seems unlikely that the Scamander could have been diverted to both sides of the plain.  It is unlikely, in other words, that the Scamander both made the beach at Besik Bay and made the deep beds described by Schliemann.  What seems most likely is that the Trojans found another water source after they had diverted and controlled the Scamander.  If they diverted and controlled Kamer Creek, their work must have lasted long enough to create the deep beds at the top of the plain that Schliemann described.  

24 Anomalies in the Plain of Troy

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