Odun İskelesi (Alexandria Troas)
Bergama (Pergamum or Pergamon)
Sart Köy (Sardis)
Dinar (Celaenae, Apamea)
Selçuk (Ayio Theologos)
Aegean Turkey has always been attractive. It has a natural beauty; its climate is warm; its land is fertile; its seas abound in fish. Uncounted numbers of people have lived and loved here for centuries, nor has the attraction of their work diminished. Each of the places had some salient quality that drew people – water, a hill that could be defended, crossroads, ore, a legend – and effected the kind of community it was.
Truva – Troy
Troy is the home of legend. Acknowledging that for many, visitors not steeped in Greek and Latin classics, Troy is a disappointment. It is small. The modern wooden horse a the entrance is an obvious tourist gimmick. So few weapons have been found found in the rubble around the walls that one is forced to wonder if there ever had been war at all. Even with a map and the posted signs it is hard to make sense of what little the archaeologists have left here. The Skamander River (Küçük Menderes Çayı) in the distance where Achilles almost drowned is little more than a muddy ditch. Where is the off-shore island the Greeks could have hid their ships? In spite of all these drawbacks, a visit to Troy can be a profound experience, over and over.
The very disappoinment leads to questions: Why is so much changed? Why are there so many levels of habitation? Who were these people and what happened to them? What tragedy, what magic pervades the hill? What is truth here?
One’s first impressions of Troy are low hill, the walls, the excavations. There are house walls, temple platforms, theaters, city gates, and the long gash that Heinrich Schliemann cut hoping to prove with Priam’s gold that Homer’s story was history. Perhaps the history is here, but Schliemann’s gold is not. A small fraction of that treasure is in the İstanbul Archaeological Musuem; the bulks is divided between the Pushkin Museum in Moscow and the Hermitage in St. Petersburg. One has to imagine the engineering feat of tugging the wooden horse into the city, and the fear of the Greek soldiers hiding inside it that the Trojans might accidentally tip the whole thing over.
As for the archaeologist’ history, of the thirty levels of habitation, Troy I is an Early Bronze Age settlement, sometime between 3000 and 2500 B.C. Troy II was inhabited from about 2500 to 2200 BC; it was an imposing city with a well-furnished palace. This was the level from which Schliemann took the treasure that the claimed had belonged to King Priam, the ruler at the time of the Trojan War. Troy II was destroyed by a huge fire which is in keeping with Homer’s story.
However, archaeologists now believe that the Troy of the Iliad is level VI or VII, when the Trojan culture was at its height. This city seems to have been destroyed by an earthquake, not by sack or conflagratin. While this conflicts with the story as told by Vergil in the Aeneid, it may confirm another interpretation that Poseidon, the god of the sea (as in the story of the monster who ungulfed Laocoon and his sons), was both the creator of horses (as in the story of the trick played on the Trojans) and the one responsible for earthquakes. Probably the Sea Peoples who invaded the Aeagean region about 1200 BC added to the ruin of the city in those years.
By the time of the later Troy VIII there was a large Temple to Athena (since destroyed by achaeologists) that was visited in turn by Xerxes (5th century BC) who sacrificed 1000 oxen, by Alexander the Great (4th century BC) who sacrificed 1000 oxen, by Alexander the Great (4th century BC) who traded his armor for some he thought belonged to the Trojans, and by Julius Caesar(1st century BC) who thought that he was a descendant of King Priam through Aeneas. Some of the items from the excavation and some from other excavations in the area are displayed in the Çanakkale Musuem.
But Troy is something else besides a place where men fought to recapture a girls who had allowed herself to be kidnapped. It is the place where the merchant, Heinrich Schliemann, redefined the functions of myth in history. Beyond this, Troy represents the tangible evidence of an old story about people with all their failings and their greatnesses, that, thanks to Homer’s genius, has set the standards for Western literature ever since.
Homer’s story was not a history of the Trojan War; he assumed that his listerners knew it as well as he did. Nor was it the story of the capture of Troy. Rather, he portrayed the conflict between two friends(Agamemnon and Achilles) that led many people, both innocent and guilty, to dishonor and death. Homer saw the tragedy in the cause, in its inevitable effect and in the suffering.
While the gods of Olympos appear on the surface to be manipulating the actors as puppets, Homer drew each human as a real person responsible for his or her behavior, and the gofs did not change their characters. The Odyssey began with Zeus’s wrathful commentary, “Look how mortals are always blaming us gods for their misfortunes. In truth it’s their own wickedness that brings them even more suffering than any we might devise” The actors on both sides of the story rose to heroic stature. Even Helen, who seemed to escape the tragic consequences, acknowledged her guilt and the irony of her position when she said to her brother-in-law Hector, “I wish I could comfort you. You bear the greatest burden to undo the evil which my blindness and Paris’s has caused. For this our punishment will be eternal dishnor in the poets’ songs.”
Troy is not the place of a famous temple as is Didyma or Pessiunus, nor a recently rediscovered civilization as is Boğazkale. Its gods and goddesses do not have strange unpronounceable names, nor has its language disappeared, although the people to whom its fame is due lived here about the same time as the Anatolian Hittites. Rather, like the sculpture and jewelry that are left from these other sanctuaries, it is the intensity of the artistry that stirs us; it is the intensity and the humanity of the Iliad and the Odyssey, even when the Trojan War was though to be merely myth, that has preserved it. Homer’s gods were no more ethical than Telipunu was; they no less symbolized natura phenomena than the Weather-god or Cybele did. Rather, it has been Homer’s epic, so inspiring that it has been considered sacred, that has made Troy in itself a religious site.
Once a city with tall buildings, Alexandraia Troas was a major port on the Aegean and it was visited twice by Paul. Constantine the Great thought briefly about making it his capital of the Eastern Roman Empire. He chose wisely in not doing so. It was most accessible both to trade and to plunder. The few ruins that stand up now above the thistles witness to the neglect of the centuries.
Alexandria Troas was founded about 300 BC by Antigonus I, one of Alexander the Great’s generals. His successor, Lysimachus, changed its name from Antigonia in order to honor Alexander and to identify its location on the Troad. A major benefactor to the city in the 2nd century AD was the orator Herodes Atticus who gave the city baths, the ruined walls of which are about all that are left. As Constantinople grew, so Alexandria Troas declined; its dressed stones were plundered to build new capital.
The city’s importance in religiıus history comes from the visits by Paul on his missonary journeys. On his second journey Paul had wanted to go north into Bithynia, but instead he and his companion Timothy were deflected to the Aegean Coast. In the night a Macedonian appeared to Paul calling him to cross the Aegean to Neapolis (Kavala) and Philippi. This is noted as the inspiration and beginning of the spread of Christianity into Europe. Perhaps it was here that Luke joined Paul in his journeys. The evindence is that the account in Acts changes at this point from “they” to “we”
Paul was in Alexandria Troas again for a week as he returned from Macedonia on his third jorney. This time he had so much to say to his friends that they stayed up all night. Eutychus, one of his young listeners, was sitting in a window, perhaps to get some fresh air because there were a lot of lamps burning. Around midnight he went to sleep in the stuffy room and fell out, landing on the ground three stories below. Paul ran down, examined him, and found to everyone’s relief that he was still alive. The incident was only a brief interruption in the discussion that continued until after sunrise.
Behramkale – Assos
Assos is a southern port on the Çanakkale peninsula and as such was a stop-over for Paul. Perhaps its name derives from Isij meaning “the rising sun.” Later Isij became “Asia,” firsst for the southern shore of the Çanakkale peninsula, then for the coastal region. For several hundred years Assos was ruled by “tyrants” (a term meaning at that time rulers who had absolute soereignty). Tyrants were not necessarily cruel of self-seeking men as the title has come to suggest. Instead, one who tried to be just was the Tyranr of Assos in the 4th century BC, a eunuch name Hermias. Hermias had studied in Athens at the Academy under Plato. While there he had become a close friend of Aristotle who followed him Assos when Plato died. Aristotle married Hermias’s adopted daughter Pythia and moved to Macedonia where he taught Alexander, the young son of King Philip, for eight years. The friendship between Aristotke and Hermias came to a tragic end when Hermias came to a tragic end when Hermias came to a tragic end when Hermias and the residents of Assos were captured by the Persians and massacred in about 344 BC. Aristotle’s Ode in Praise of Valor was written in memory of his friend.
Remains of buildings on the peak of Assos dating from the time of Hermais and Aristotle include a 6th century BC Temple to Athena, a marketplace, the city walls and a council chamber. There are also the ruins of a later theater and a 14th century mosque. The walls of the acropolis were carefully and skillfully built. The Temple to Athena is unusual because of its mixture of Doric and Ionic architecture.
Paul passed through Assos on his way between Alexandria Troas and Miletus at the end of his third missonary journey. From Assos he sent a message back to Carpus in Alexandria Troas asking him to forward his cloak and notebooks. His friends had taken a boat from Alexandria Troas while Paul had traveled overland. He met them in Assos from whence they sailed together across the ten kilometers to Mytilene.