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Tevfikiye Köyü, İntepe/Çanakkale Province, Turkey

You kings and warriors! May your vows be crown’d
And Troy’s proud walls lie level with the ground.

If Achilles could see the city today, truly levelled, he would surely give a cheer, though of course Homer might have been putting words into the Greek god’s mouth in the Iliad (this translation is by Alexander Pope). Whatever happened in those far off days, the story of the sack of Troy (Truva) has come down to us as the greatest and oldest epic of the ancient world.

To visit the much excavated site is an education – and an exercise in imagination. Scattered across the coastal plains of Troad are foundations from nine distinct epochs from its 4,000-years’ existence, brought to light by Heinrich Schliemann. The deep north-south trench the German archaeologist made through the layers to find King Priam’s treasure hoard is still visible from the summit above the plain. Walls and towers, sanctuaries and Priam’s royal palace have all been identified or guessed at. The only thing to have been rebuilt is the fabled wooden horse that Homer tells us was rolled in one night through the west gate in a scheme dreamed up by Odysseus. Nearby tumuli are said to be the burial mounds of Achilles, Ajax and Antilochus.

2018 has been proclaimed Turkey’s Year of Troy, when a new museum on the site is due to open.

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Issue 66, December 2023 Turkey’s Centenary Issue
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