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.  

24 Anomalies in the Plain of Troy

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