and its immediate vicinity. In modern scholarly nomenclature, the Ridge
of Troy (including Hisarlik) borders the Plain of Troy, flat
agricultural land, which conducts the lower Scamander River to the strait. Troy was the setting of the Trojan War described in the Greek Epic Cycle, in particular in the Iliad, one of the two epic poems attributed to Homer. Metrical evidence from the Iliad and the Odyssey suggests that the name Ἴλιον (Ilion) formerly began with a digamma: Ϝίλιον (Wilion); this is also supported by the Hittite name for what is thought to be the same city, Wilusa.
After a destruction at the end of the Bronze Age,
believed to represent the end of the Trojan War, and a period of
abandonment or near-abandonment during the subsequent Dark Age, the site
acquired a new population of Greek-speakers, who built a classical city
that became along with the rest of Anatolia a part of the Persian
Empire. The Troad was liberated by Alexander the Great, an admirer of
Achilles, who he believed had the same type of glorious (but
short-lived) destiny. After the Roman conquest of this now Hellenistic
Greek-speaking world, a new capital called Ilium (from Greek: Ἴλιον, Ilion) was founded on the site in the reign of the Roman Emperor Augustus. It flourished until the establishment of Constantinople, became a bishopric, was abandoned, repopulated for a few centuries in the Byzantine era, was abandoned again, and is now a Latin Catholic titular see. Most recently it has risen to prominence as an archaeological site.
In the mid-19th century the Calvert family, wealthy Levantine
English settlers of the Troad, occupying a working farm a few miles from
Hisarlik, purchased much of the hill in the belief that it contained
the ruins of Troy. They were antiquarians. Two of the family, Frederick
and especially the youngest, Frank, surveyed the Troad and conducted a
number of trial excavations there. In 1865, Frank Calvert
excavated trial trenches on the hill, discovering the Roman settlement.
Realizing he did not have the funds for a full excavation, he attempted
to recruit the British Museum, and was refused. A chance meeting with
Calvert in Çanakkale and a visit to the site by Heinrich Schliemann, a wealthy German businessman and archaeologist, also looking for Troy, offered a second opportunity for funding. Schliemann had been at first skeptical about the identification of Hisarlik with Troy, but was persuaded by Calvert. As Schliemann was about to leave the area, Calvert wrote to him asking
him to take over the entire excavation. Schliemann agreed. The Calverts,
who made their money in the diplomatic service, expedited the
acquisition of a Turkish firman.
In 1868, Schliemann excavated an initial deep trench across the mound
called today "Schliemann's trench." These excavations revealed several
cities built in succession. Subsequent excavations by following
archaeologists elaborated on the number and dates of the cities.
Today a small village near the ruins, Tevfikiye, supports the
tourist trade visiting the Troia archaeological site. It lies within the
province of Çanakkale,
some 30 kilometres (19 mi) south-west of the provincial capital, also
called Çanakkale. The current map shows Ilium a little way inland from
the Scamander estuary across the plain of Troy. According to Korfmann,
due to Troy's location near the Aegean Sea, the Sea of Marmara, and the Black Sea,
it was a central hub for military activities and trade, and the chief
site of a culture he calls the "Maritime Troja Culture," which extended
over the region between the Black and Aegean Seas. Troy was added to the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1998.