The story so far:

Historians tentatively agreed that the city of Troy should be sought at the south end of the Trojan Plain.

Schliemann, a wealthy businessman and Homer enthusiast, in collaboration with Frank Calvert, another enthusiast, began digging at Hisarlik, convinced that some of the lines in The Iliad pointed to that location. He was able to unearth something.

This something was subsequently ridiculed, labeled fake, etc., by historians, because nobody likes a smart ass. Schliemann's methods and believes have been repeatedly vilified by academia. Today, folks seem to agree that what Schliemann discovered was not Troy, but its predecessor; and that his methods were so crude that the actual city of Troy, sitting higher than Schliemann thought, was destroyed during the excavation. However, there seems to be an agreement that Schliemann's choice of location was actually accurate.

(A side note: I've read The Iliad too, but in all honesty I wouldn't know where to start digging. Why Hisarlik, especially? Why not a hundred miles south of it?)

It is said that the reason for the siege, apart from the kidnapping and adultery, was that Troy served as some sort of a customs checkpoint, a coastal toll booth that charged Greek merchants an exorbitant fee for passing through. I have no idea whether this story has any scientific basis. I've looked; I haven't been able to find anything to support it.

My question is: what did Schliemann discover? Is it really Troy? And if so, how do we know this?

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    If you question Wikipedia's account (which is also the conventional view afaik), you should explain why you doubt that Hisarlik is the legendary Troy.
    – Semaphore
    Commented Dec 13, 2015 at 8:47
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    You really haven't.
    – Semaphore
    Commented Dec 13, 2015 at 12:58
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    For your awareness: I've asked a meta question related to this one.
    – CGCampbell
    Commented Dec 13, 2015 at 13:35
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    @Ricky I would say, since you have an interest in the fields (Archaeology/Anthropology) as evidenced by your finding the article which prompted this question in the first place (I would not have ever asked this, as my interests aren't ones that would have led me to it in the first place), that you are one of our "resident experts" in the fields mentioned. At least more expert than I. I would suggest you research your own question here, and come to an answer, or conclusion, of your own and answer this yourself. IMHO, none of us will give you any more acceptable answer than you might make.
    – CGCampbell
    Commented Dec 13, 2015 at 13:39
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    IF you want an answer, then your audience are the judges of whether you've expressed the question sufficiently precisely. Your answer to @Semaphore communicates clearly to me that you're not looking for an answer to the question. Like Semaphore, I don't know what you want to learn with this question. I'm pretty sure that the response, "I did" isn't going to get you anything useful at all.
    – MCW
    Commented Dec 13, 2015 at 19:41

2 Answers 2


On my opinion, Wikipedia gives a satisfactory description of the current state of knowledge about this question. On the place which Schliemann excavated there are 11 or 12 layers of ancient cities which existed in various historical periods. One of these layers is roughly of the same time which is traditionally thought as the time of the Troyan war described in Homer's poems. (The dating of this Troyan war was established by Hellenistic scholars as 12 century BC). It is not the same layer that Schliemann thought, so in the process of his non-professional excavation he actually destroyed the most interesting (from the point of view of correspondence to the Iliad) layer.

In Hittite texts of the same epoch there are some personal and geographical names which resemble somewhat the names mentioned in the Iliad.

There is some research showing that geography and geology of the neighborhood of the excavated city fits the descriptions in the Iliad.

This is a condensed statement of what is known now.


A very comprehensive source for the recent research and the current state of knowledge is Joachim Latacz, Troy and Homer, English translation by Oxford University Press, 2001. It addresses exactly the question you asked: what is the relation between ruins in Hisarlik and Homer's Iliad. He concludes that there is a lot of evidence but there is no conclusive proof that the war described by Homer ever happened. No inscription was ever found in Hisarlik, saying "This is Troy" or "Agamemnon was here" :-)

Another good reference is Eric. H. Cline, 1177 BC. The year civilization collapsed. Princeton university press, 2014.

EDIT. Another question is why Schliemann started his excavations in this particular place. He relied on research of Frank Calvert who studied all evidence available to him. Ancient Greeks of classical epoch "knew" where Troy was. At the time of Alexander the Great there was a temple there dedicated to Achilles, which Alexander visited soon after his landing in Asia. These are already historical times, and existing evidence permits to trace Alexanders itinerary. Calvert was based on this sort of evidence, besides Homer himself.

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    0 down vote "Ancient Greeks of classical epoch "knew" where Troy was." This is like mediaeval Europeans knowing where Camelot was.
    – RedSonja
    Commented Dec 14, 2015 at 9:54
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    That's exactly why I put quotation signs around "knew".
    – Alex
    Commented Dec 14, 2015 at 18:50
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    Yes, I thought so. Camelot was mythical, rather like Troy. The Morte d'Arthur was based on romantic stories, not on history, and I have always supposed the Iliad was too. There may be a historical atom or too at the centre, but we'll never know, unless, as someone said above, we discover "Paris heart Helen" and "Achilles woz ere".
    – RedSonja
    Commented Dec 15, 2015 at 8:23

Schliemann did not found a Homer's Troy,-he found just one of the Hittite's cities.Also ,before him Charles Maclaren signed this location like Troy.Why it is not Troy?

  • 1.Homer says Troy is posted near the place where Simois river flow INTO Scamander,-near Hisarlik the rivers flow paralelly.

  • 2 Homer insisted several times,in Iliad and Odyssey that Troy is acropolis city, he claims about 20 times,any more he describe Troy like hill or mountain,and we have Hisarlik which is "tell" on 25m.-Troy VII A on 8m

  • 3.Where are the springs of water in Hisarlik,and specially HOT and COLD spring?

  • 4.In a Troy land there are 8 rivers,one of them -Esepus made a lake down of Ida mountain.

  • 5.There's not the Achaean's camp,and incineration's remains of wariors.

  • 6.Near the Achaean camp there is an BROADLY CAVE,Homer says.

  • 7.Troy is posted near Olympus,and near Hisarlik there is not the Olympus.

  • 8.Homer's Troy is old just 150 years:-about 1350.B.C. -1200.B.C.Homer says that with precision by means of genealogy of Troyan kings,-but Hisarlik is very old city,-3000 B.C.

  • 9.Homer says Troy is posted beetwen the hills,deep inside on the gulf,not on the coast-like Hisarlik.

  • 10.Also Homer describe Troy area in the cold part of Mediterranean,on the place where the olives don't grow successfully,also we have the snow in the spring time.

  • 11.In front of Hisarlik,there's no the Homer's small hillock called -Batiea.

  • 12.Homer says-the Thracian land is on the west of Troy,-but on the west of "Hisarlik-Troy"is today's GREECE!

    I think is enough! I am not the only one who gave this argumentation.

Source:Vedran Sinožić,Naša Troja,(Our Troy),Naklada Uliks,Rijeka,2016.,Croatia.

  • 2
    I have added some formatting to your answer to make it more readable. If you do not like this you can revert the edit. Please do not place multiple answers on individual questions.
    – justCal
    Commented Mar 13, 2018 at 18:17
  • I'm genuinely curious to know why you would think that the topography in the vicinity of Hisarlik would have remained unchanged since the Bronze Age? I think it is fair to say that Vedran Sinožić's "pet theory" has not been widely accepted by experts in the Aegean Bronze Age. Commented Mar 14, 2018 at 2:13
  • A 2003 investigation of the plains around Hisarlik by the Geological Society of America, actually found that "The geologic evidence correlates very well with the relevant Homeric geography", and that "Nothing that our research has discovered negates descriptions in the Iliad". Commented Mar 14, 2018 at 2:42
  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. Commented Mar 17, 2018 at 0:09
  • @historicus As you've been told before, if you want to notify a user of a comment, you need to precede their username with an '@' symbol Commented Mar 18, 2018 at 0:51

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