Project Troia (Turquie) : Bronze Age Troy just keeps on growing


Project Troia  -  Bronze Age Troy just keeps on growing

Ann Wuyts

Source :

The Bronze Age remains were found at the lower city, below the remains of Roman and Hellenistic houses. Above left, Dr Ernst Pernicka discusses the excavations with archaeologist Dr Catalin Pavel (in white shirt). - Photo by Gebhard Bieg, courtesy the University of Tubingen


German archaeologists have made new discoveries at modern day Hisarlik, northwest Turkey – ancient Troy.

The finds further confirm the area occupied during the Bronze Age was not limited to the citadel; Troy VI and VII were much larger than originally thought.

The three year research project at Troy – lead by Prof. Ernst Pernicka, from the University of Tubingen's Institute of Pre- and Early History – sees scholars focus on the analysis and publication of materials found since the university started excavations at the site in 1988. 

But to investigate – and resolve – outstanding issues, Project Troia does undertake some smaller excavations.  

These digs, in combination with geophysical surveying and the drilling of test holes, allow the team to narrow down the Bronze Age occupation below Troy's citadel more closely.

From the early Bronze Age until the Roman Period, at least nine cities – their ruins stacked up to 15 metres high – existed at the archaeological site; Troy I to IX.

This year, the team confirmed the layout of a one kilometre long Late Bronze Age defensive system – a rock-cut ditch – south of the Troy hillfort. 

A gate, situated in the southeast area of the trench, is now fully excavated. It is located some 300 metres south of the citadel wall, and dated to about 1300 BC.  The passage is about five metres wide, smaller than the ditch's previously excavated southern gate.

Late Bronze Age layers came to light in the vicinity of the southeastern gate – remains of walls, roads, storage pits and even an ancient oven. The finds suggest the area was occupied from about about 1700 (Troy VI) to 1100 BC (Troy VII). Soil samples, taken 200 metres east of the citadel, reveal Bronze Age remains as well. 

Further east, a second trench was discovered, significantly deeper and wider than the excavated ditch. This structure isn't dated yet, but will be further examined next season.  


Map of Late Bronze Age Troy, at Hisarlik, Turkey. It shows the excavations and test holes from the 2010 season. ( Burg/Citadel, Bohrungen/Drilling, Bronzezeit-Schicht/Bronze Age layer, Tor/Gate)

The archaeological site of Hisarlik was first excavated in the 19th century – not without controversy – by self-taught archaeologists Heinrich Schliemann.

Rather than being one ancient city, it consists of multiple layers of ruins.  From the early Bronze Age (3rd millennium BC) until the Roman Period (1st century BC), at least nine cities – Troy I to IX  – existed at the archaeological site; there ruins are stacked up to 15 metres high (nicely shown in the timeline on the University of Cincinnati's website).

Which of these remains – if any – are those of the Homeric city of Troy, is still debated.

Schliemann nominated Troy I or II, but nowadays the Late Hittite Troy VII – showing traces of fire and possibly warfare – is seen as the most likely source of inspiration for the Trojan myth.  Its remains are dated between the 13th and 10th century BC, where as ancient Greek historians place the Trojan War somewhere in the 12th to 14th century BC. 

That Troy VI and VII are far larger than originally thought – not a mere hillfort, but strongholds surrounded by a settlement with its own defensive structures – makes it more likely Hisarlik is indeed the site of the legendary Troy, or Ilion, the siege of which was described by Homer in the Iliad.