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The Importance of Troy in the Late Bronze Age

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Location: Madrid (Spain)

PostPosted: Thu Mar 10, 2005 10:44 pm    Post subject: The Importance of Troy in the Late Bronze Age Reply with quote

In the abstract of his article, Prof. Kolb states that "Troy was situated off the great east-west routes of sea-trade" and that its role in trade (during the Late Bronze Age) was "peripheral and restricted to the Aegean". The map included in the page 579 of his work shows that the west coast of Anatolia was not involved, apparently, in the main or "attested" sea-trade circuit of the eastern Mediterranean.
However, Prof. Jablonka argues in his response that some Western Anatolian Grey Ware of this period has been found in Cyprus and the Levant, and that several materials found in Troy VI clearly came from a long distance.
Now, there are various Egyptian records of the LBA that mention those maritime raiders from the northern Mediterranean, the so-called Sea Peoples, which reached in different occasions the shores of Palestine, Egypt and Libya. It is generally agreed that at least some of the Sea Peoples cited in the Egyptian texts had their homeland in the western coasts of Asia Minor. The Lukka, a people who participated in an attack to Egypt repelled by Pharaoh Merneptah, are clearly identifiable as Lycians. They are also cited in earlier documents from El-Amarna and in several Hittite tablets. Other identifications have been often suggested: the Teresh (involved in the same aggression) as the people later named "Tyrsenoi" (or Lydians), and the Tjeker (who participated in the events of the age of Ramesses III) as the "Teukroi" (Teucrians or Trojans). If some peoples coming from western Anatolia were able to sail to Egypt during these raids, one can deduce that they had good knowledge of the eastern maritime routes. Thus, it is very likely that they had also practised these routes, with more or less frequency, in order to exchange goods.
With regard to the so-called Sausgamuwa Treaty, cited by Prof. Kolb in p. 589 of his article, a very interesting paragraph of this letter (sent by the Hittite king Tudhaliya IV to his vassal, Sausgamuwa of Amurru) reads as follows:
"As the king of Assyria is the enemy of My Sun, so must he also be your enemy. No merchant of yours is to go to the Land of Assyria, and you must allow no merchant of Assyria to enter your land or pass through your land. If, however, an Assyrian merchant comes to your land, seize him and send him to My Sun. Let this be your obligation under divine oath! And because I, My Sun, am at war with the king of Assyria, when I call up troops and chariotry you must do likewise."
(Sausgamuwa Treaty, IV 12-20, in T. Bryce, The Kingdom of the Hittites, p. 350)
This text means that Tudhaliya IV was in war with the Assyrians and proves that he was seting up a mercantile embargo against his enemies. Prof. Kolb admits in the same page that "Near Eastern powers sometimes led wars for economic purposes, trying to control trade routes and ports of trade". However, he considers doubtful that Tudhaliya IV also prohibited, in the same letter, the exchange of goods with the "Ahhiyawa" (Achaeans or Mycenaeans). Now, it is well known that this Hittite king gained control of the island of Cyprus (an important location on the eastern sea-routes that was rich in copper) and, consequently, there was an unusual lack of imported Mycenaean pottery in Cyprus and the neighboring coasts during the last decades of the 13th century BC. It was then substituted by local imitations made in the Levantine regions (the so-called Rude Style). This fact indicates that, during this period, the Hittites and their allies really blocked Mycenaean trade in the cited area. After the destruction of the main Cypriot centers (Enkomi, Kition, Sinda), occurred around 1200 BC, these cities were reoccupied by the Mycenaean Greeks, seeing the amounts of genuine Mycenaean IIIC:1 pottery of the 12th century BC that have been found in such centers.
In the light of these data, it is evident that the island of Cyprus, which according to Prof. Kolb "may have played a major role in trade between the Aegean, Anatolia and the Levant" (p. 588) was finally conquered by the Mycenaeans.
In the same period (c. 1200 BC), there was a general devastation (recorded in the great Egyptian inscription of Ramesses III at the temple of Medinet Habu) in the main centers of the eastern Mediterranean, such as Ugarit, Karkemish, Hattusa, Tarsus and also in Troy (at the archaeological level Troy VIIa). This fact leads one to think that Troy, a settlement strongly fortified, also played a role in the political and economical network of the LBA, like the other centers assaulted during this international crisis.
In my article titled "The Sea Peoples and the Historical Background of the Trojan War" (published in Mediterranean Archaeology 16, 2003, pp. 107-124) I argue that Troy VIIa was attacked and burned down, in fact, by the Mycenaeans, the same people that conquered Cyprus in about 1200 BC, and thus the legendary Trojan War of the Greek tradition has an important historical background.
I recommend, in order to know my complete argumentation, the reading of the cited work, which includes bibliography and can be also found at the following web-site:
NOTE: In this reply, I have not discussed the Hittite documents relating to the reign called Wilusa, because I know that its identification with Ilios or Troy is not accepted by those scholars who are too sceptical. However, I suggest them to notice that the three kings of Wilusa mentioned by the Hittite sources: Alaksandu, Kukunni and Walmu have names rather similar to Alexander, Cycnus and Elymus, respectively, which were used by the Trojans according to the Greek tradition. This fact cannot be a mere coincidence, as other kings of western Anatolia cited by the Hittites (i.e. Tarkasnawa, Tarhunaradu, Kupanta-Kurunta, Masturish, Uhhaziti, Manapa-Tarhunta) cannot be related to classical Trojan names.
Carlos J. Moreu
Author of the article titled "The Sea Peoples and the Historical Background of the Trojan War" (In Mediterranean Archaeology 16, 2003) and the book "La guerra de Troya, más allá de la leyenda" (Madrid: Oberon, 2005)
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Frank Kolb

Joined: 10 Feb 2005
Posts: 3
Location: University of Tübingen

PostPosted: Fri Apr 29, 2005 2:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It is difficult to find time for making holidays when one is involved into a discussion with Professor Morris Silver. Now he has difficulties with the term ´elite`and with regarding the Old Assyrian merchant families as members of a political and social elite. He writes that he found nothing about Assur´s political and social elites in Dercksen 2004. He should have looked at p.244 of this book. There Dercksen writes: "The officials holding public posts in the administration of the OA (i.e. Old Assyrian) city-state and its colonies belonged largely to the ruling oligarchy, and in particular to the ummianum-class when members of the merchant families are concerned ... A distinction between public and private did not exist when responsibility is concerned". Furthermore, on p.246 Dercksen writes: "The main distinction on any free man was that between `big` and ´small` men. It seems that public offices, and also ad hoc functions such as that of attorney or envoy, were usually held by merchants belonging to the ´big men`". Cp. also Larsen 1976, 366-74, and Faist 2001. On p.239 Faist writes: "Der Fernhandel war Bestandteil der Politik. Er diente in erster Linie der Beschaffung von Prestige- und Luxusgütern für die herrschende Elite", and on p.241 (on the Old Assyrian state): "Der König war ein primus inter pares; seine Macht teilte er mit den einflußreichen Kaufmannsfamilien".
In Faist´s book, in particular on p.241-248, Professor Silver might also find the explanation for the changes in Assyrian economic life over the centuries: It is the changing political and military character of the Assyrian state, the transition from the prevalence of a merchant aristocracy to the absolute power of a monarch in the Middle Assyrian period. Faist points out that nevertheless Assyrian long-distance trade was not administrated by the palace, but she underlines (p.110-24, esp.120-4) that even within Mesopotamia the relationship between palace and traders appears to have varied, and that in particular with regard to Ugarit, Egypt, and the Hittites the sources and modern research speak in favour of palace-directed trade. Finally, as for the structure of Bronze Age trade, she essentially agrees with K. Polanyi that narrow limits existed for the development of trade and that there did not exist a market economy (p.123-4).
In sum, Professor Morris´ arguments are not becoming more convincing by continuous repetition. Since the discussion is in danger to resemble a merry-go- round, I have decided not to continue it for my part.

Carlos Moreu has intervened on the Troy question on March 10. His arguments are highly speculative. First he quotes Jablonka for Western Anatolian Grey Ware found in Cyprus and the Levant, just as if this were Jablonka´s discovery. I mentioned these findings in my AJA article on p.598, quoting the relevant literature and the unanimous opinion of specialists that this pottery is exceedingly rare in that region and not evidence for regular trade. The fact that this rather unattractive pottery does not consist of transport vessels but mostly of symposium tableware, may indeed indicate that it was carried to the Levant by sea people groups. But these must not have come from the Troad. The identification of the Tjeker mentioned in Egyptian sources, with the Teukroi is very questionable, and Moreu´s identification of the Teukroi with the Trojans is simply hazardous. The Iliad knows a Trojan hero called Teukros, but no people called Teukroi in the Troad. The Teukroi are attested in Greek tradition since the 2nd half of the 7th century BC at the earliest and regarded as a Thracian tribe which immigrated into the Troad. This could not have happened before the 12th century, when we know that the hill of Hisarlik was occupied by people from the Balkans. In any case, neither the Tjeker nor the Teukroi nor the Grey Ware do attest to Trojan traders and trade in the Eastern Mediterranean.
There is no need to deal with Moreu´s far-fetched connection of the so-called Sausgamuwa-Treaty with Troy VIIa. Hardly less speculative are his arguments for the identification of Wilusa with Ilios. He mentions "scholars who are too sceptical". These sceptical scholars are rather numerous; it is only that the ´believers` make more noise. They should have a look at S. Heinhold-Krahmer´s (2004) recent article in order to become aware of the meagre evidence on which they base their confidence. Moreu´s way of arguing is symptomatic in that it relies upon mostly superficial similarities of names in Hittite sources and Greek mythology: Alaksandu, Kukunni, Walmu (all rulers of Wilusa) on the one hand, Alexandros (i.e. Paris), Kyknos and Elymos. Neither Kyknos nor Elymos appear in the Homeric epic. Elymos is a late invention which served to fabricate an eponymous hero and Trojan descent for the Sicilian tribe called Elymoi. Elymos has nothing to do with Walmu. Kyknos (which means ´swan`) is a Greek mythological figure which appears in very different contexts. In one version he is a son of Poseidon and brought into context with the Trojan War. He becomes a Thracian ally of the Trojans and is killed by Achilleus. There is not the slightest reason to idenify him with Kukunni.
Alexandros-Paris, of course, is a son of Priamos. The problem consists in his double-name. Paris seems to be a non-Greek name. Equivalence of Alaksandu and Alexandros has been maintained by scholars since about 80 years, but is contested by others. In any case, two different names for one and the same figure suggest two different versions of the myth. It is possible that tales about various indigenous rulers and aristocrats, like Alaksandu of Wilusa, Paris and Priamos, were diffused in Western Asia Minor and integrated at different times into the mythical tradition of the Trojan War. But this does not prove that Wilusa was identical with Ilios/Troy.


Dercksen, J.G. 2004. Old Assyrian Institutions. Leiden: Nederlands Instituut
voor het Nabije Oosten.
Faist, B.I. 2001. Der Fernhandel des assyrischen Reiches zwischen dem 14. und
11. Jh. v. Chr.. Münster: Ugarit-Verlag.
Heinhold-Krahmer, S. 2004. “Ist die Identität von Ilios mit Wilusa endgültig erwiesen?” In SMEA 46/1: 29-57.
Larsen, M.I. 1976. The Old Assyrian City-State and Its Economies. Copenhagen:
Akademisk Forlag.
Prof. Dr. Frank Kolb
Universität Tübingen
Historisches Seminar
Abteilung für Alte Geschichte
Wilhelmstr. 36
D-72074 Tübingen
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PostPosted: Tue May 03, 2005 10:10 pm    Post subject: The Importance of Troy in the Late Bronze Age Reply with quote

I am neither a classical ancient historian, a Linear B, Hittite or other text specialist. Rather, I am an archaeologist who has worked in the proto-historic periods of the Near East. Reading the detailed criticisms of Professor Kolb's discussion paper and his responses, it seems to me that Professor Kolb under-estimates a critical factor regarding the Bronze Age texts. The archives of Late Bronze Age texts that we have, whether Linear B or Hittite, have come to light through archaeological excavations. Similarly, the Kültepe texts, which Professor Kolb argues are irrelevant because they are not contemporary, are known through archaeological investigation (and also through purchases on the antiquities market).

A basic fact of archaeological materials is that what we have is the result of archaeological accidents - whether the chances of excavation, or the hazards of survival. It follows that we cannot know how much we do not have, either because it has not yet been found, or because it has not survived. Archaeologists, therefore, learn not to be very careful about arguing from absence of evidence. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Thus, in the context of the incomplete archives of texts that we happen to have from here and there, it is illogical to argue that there were no private enterprise merchants simply because we have not texts (from the palace contexts that have been explored) that mention them. It is equally illogical to argue that the amount of materials traded can be assessed by the simple expedient of totalling the amounts in the surviving texts. Would he argue that goods or materials not mentioned in the texts that we happen to have were not traded?

It is frustrating, but that is archaeology.
Professor Trevor Watkins,
University of Edinburgh,
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PostPosted: Fri May 06, 2005 2:51 pm    Post subject: The Importance of Troy in the Late Bronze Age Reply with quote

After reading the recent text written by Prof. Kolb, I have to replay that, in my post of March 10, I have not linked specifically the Sausgamuwa Treaty with Troy VIIa. I have expressed, however, that there is a connection between the Mycenaean settlement in Cyprus, which occurred after the destruction of several centers in the eastern Mediterranean, and the end of Troy VIIa. According to Greek tradition, some Achaean heroes who had participated in the assault to Troy settled in Cyprus. Apart from a remarkable chronological relation (both events occurred around 1200 BC), there are also archaeological data that link the destructions which took place in Cyprus and in Troy.
We find a new type of pottery in Troy VIIb1 (the stratum of the city that followed Troy VIIa), which is usually called Handmade Burnished Ware or Coarse Ware. This pottery appears in the rebuilt city of Troy, together with the traditional Trojan wares. Handmade Burnished Ware has been also found in Greece, Macedonia, Thrace, and in Cyprus. In the latter region, it is associated with Mycenaean IIIC:1b pottery and, according to Vassos Karageorghis, "what the HBW (Handmade Burnished Ware) evidences from Cyprus is that a special group of people amongst the Mycenaeans for some reason favoured the use of this handmade pottery" (see page 256 in E. D. Oren ed., The Sea Peoples and Their World: A Reassessment, Philadelphia 2000). I think that these settlers may have been a Balkanic people who joined the Mycenaeans during the great crisis of 1200 BC. Although the Mycenaean Greeks did not occupy Troy after its destruction (and this fact does not contradict the epic tale), it is probable that their allies, the people who used the HBW Ware, inhabited Troy VIIb1 together with the local population.
With regard to the Teukroi (or Teucrians), they are mentioned at the beginning of the Iliad (after the so-called Catalogue of the Ships) as the inhabitants of the region of Zelea and the River Aesepus. This area was located in the eastern borders of the Troad, 80 kilometres away from the city of Troy. However, the term Teukroi is often used in the Iliad as synonymous of Trojans. In Greek tradition the eponym of the Teukroi, one of the mythical heroes called Teucer (or Teukros), was the son of Scamander (who gave name to this Trojan river) and Idaea (the nymph of the Mount Ida in the Troad). He was born in northwestern Anatolia and, therefore, he and his people, the Teukroi, were not considered of Thracian origin (as has been stated by Prof. Kolb). The other legendary hero named Teucer, who fought in the Trojan War and founded the Cypriot city of Salamis, was a Greek, but he had this Trojan name because his mother was the princess Hesione of Troy.
However, those inhabitants of the Troad who may have come from Thrace were the Dardanians, seeing that their eponym Dardanus migrated from the island of Samothrace to the Troad, according to some Greek authors (see a compilation in R. Graves, The Greek Myths, chapter 158). In any case, immigrants from Europe came to western Anatolia not only in the 12th century but also in earlier periods. The inhabitants of the Troad, during the Late Bronze Age, may have been a mixture of various original tribes: Trojans, Teucrians and Dardanians. In the same way, a contemporary person born in London is both British and English, although the Britons and the Angles were originally two different peoples.
Now, Prof. Kolb considers that the relation of the Teukroi with the Sea People named Tjeker in the Egyptian sources is speculative. However, the identification Ahhiyawa-Achaeans, proposed by Emil Forrer in 1924, has been also considered doubtful for many years and it is generally accepted at present. The term Ahhiyawa, used by the Hittites to call the Mycenaeans, was similar to the name of the Late Bronze Age Greeks recorded in Hellenic oral tradition, Achaeans, thus the Hittite sources have proven the historical basis of this legendary denomination. Another name of the Mycenaeans used by Homer, Danaoi (or Danaans), is also confirmed by an Egyptian inscription that refers to the land of Danaya in association with various cities of Greece. And the term Dardanoi (or Dardanians) can be found in the records relative to the battle of Kadesh, which mention a people called Derden among the allies of the Hittites. (They are listed besides the people of Masa, a land of western Anatolia that was located near the Troad. See J. H. Breasted, Ancient Records of Egypt, vol. III, p. 136). According to these considerations, the relation of the name Tjeker, mentioned by the Egyptians in the 12th century BC, with the Homeric term Teukroi (meaning in general the Trojans) is also very plausible and, therefore, it cannot be discarded.
Common sense makes me also believe that the kingdom of Wilusa, cited in the Hittite tablets, is identifiable with Ilios or Troy. The letter addressed to the Hittite king Muwatalli II by his vassal Manapa-Tarhunta, king of the Seha River Land (that is, the valley of the Hermus or the Caicus), deals with a conflict between the latter ruler and Piyamaradu, an enemy of the Hittites based in Wilusa who had invaded Lazba (the island of Lesbos), which appears to have formerly belonged to the kingdom of Manapa-Tarhunta. This evidence indicates that Wilusa was located in the coast of western Anatolia, as Piyamaradu needed a fleet to attack Lesbos. And it is more likely that the kingdom of Wilusa was situated to the north of the River Seha (not far from the island of Lesbos), because the coastal region located to the south of this valley was properly called Arzawa, or Mira, in the Hittite sources.
These geographical data, together with the four onomastic connections pointed in my former argumentation (Wilusa-Ilios, Alaksandu-Alexander, Kukunni-Cycnus and Walmu-Elymus) leads one to conclude that Wilusa and Troy were the same place. Even a very sceptical scholar, who thinks that this is not definitively proven, should admit, at least, that the identification may be correct.
Now, when I linked the names of the three recorded kings of Wilusa with those of mythical Trojan heroes, I did not mean that they were the same persons; I meant that the three rulers used classical Trojan names. In Greek tradition, Alexander (or Alexandros) was the prince Paris, who never reigned in Troy, but Alaksandu of Wilusa was a king. However, it is possible, as Prof. Kolb suggests, that Alexander and Paris were originally two different heroes, the first one identifiable with Alaksandu of Wilusa (successor of Kukunni), who must have lived around 1300 BC, and the other with the son of Priam, the prince involved in the Trojan War.
Cycnus (or Kyknos), the legendary son of Poseidon, was the ruler of Colonae, a region of northwestern Anatolia, and his wife was a sister of Priam. They had a son, Tenes, who gave name to the island of Tenedos. Cycnus was killed by Achilles during the Trojan War, and then Poseidon turned his spirit into a "swan".
And with regard to Elymus (or Elymos), he was mentioned by the latin author Servius, probably basing on ancient Greek legends from Sicily. Elymus was a son of Anchises and stepbrother of Aeneas who took refuge in Sicily after the destruction of Troy, and then he was the eponym of the Sicilian tribe of the Elymoi. It is evident that he cannot be identified with the king Walmu of Wilusa but, actually, their names are very similar, and this may be due to the common Trojan origin of these names.
According to some Hittite sources (i.e. the treaty signed by Muwatalli II and Alaksandu), Wilusa was one of the main kingdoms of western Anatolia. Therefore, the identification of Wilusa with Troy (which is accepted or, at least, considered very likely by most scholars) confirms the importance of this legendary city in the Late Bronze Age.
NOTE: Any person who wants to contact me can find my Email address in the last pages of the volume 16 of Mediterranean Archaeology (the journal edited by the University of Sydney), as this information is not included in my forum-profile.
Carlos J. Moreu
Author of the article titled "The Sea Peoples and the Historical Background of the Trojan War" (In Mediterranean Archaeology 16, 2003) and the book "La guerra de Troya, más allá de la leyenda" (Madrid: Oberon, 2005)
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PostPosted: Tue May 10, 2005 9:15 pm    Post subject: The Importance of Troy in the Late Bronze Age Reply with quote

I have to introduce a correction in my last post, as I have stated there that the term Teukroi was used by Homer. I have been misled by a Spanish translation of the Iliad, the text that I usually review. In this translation, the defendants of Troy are often called Teucrians (traditional synonymous of Trojans), but I have now noticed that other translators do not use this special term. The inhabitants of Zelea, for example, are named in the cited Spanish translation "los ricos teucros" (that is, the rich Teucrians), instead of "the rich Trojans who lived in Zelea..."
However, it is true that the Teucrians were considered, in Greek tradition, the descendants of Teucer, the legendary son of Scamander and the nymph of Mount Ida, and that the term Teucrians was an alternative name for the Trojans.
Most scholars who studied the Sea Peoples have pointed out the strong connections of these maritime raiders with both western and southern Anatolia and, therefore, the only people that can be related with the Tjeker appears to be, in any case, the Teucrians of the Troad.
Carlos J. Moreu
Author of the article titled "The Sea Peoples and the Historical Background of the Trojan War" (In Mediterranean Archaeology 16, 2003) and the book "La guerra de Troya, más allá de la leyenda" (Madrid: Oberon, 2005)
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