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Near East Kingdoms

Ancient Anatolia


Hyrtacidae (Troad) (Bronze Age)

Towards the end of the thirteenth century BC, the international system in the Near East began to break down. Communications between the many smaller states, especially in Syria and Canaan, and the kings of Babylonia, Egypt, Elam, the Hittites, Mitanni and the Assyrians, gradually broke down as events overwhelmed many of them.

Then climate-induced drought and a loss of crops did more damage in the thirteenth century BC. Food supplies dwindled and the number of raids by habiru and other groups of peoples who had also banded together greatly increased until, by about 1200 BC, this flood turned into a tidal wave which destroyed the Hittites and many Anatolian and Syrian cities and states. A dark age descended on the eastern Mediterranean region.

The Troad or Troas was the peninsula region at the far north-western corner of Anatolia, formed by the territory to the north of the island of Lesbos, eastwards to Mount Ida, and then roughly in a direct line north to the Dardanelles where it meets the Sea of Marmara, opposite the shores of Thrace.

Mysia was also part of the region while the principle city in this part of Anatolia, Troy, was nearby, and Dardania could also be included within the Troad, along with its native population of Teucri.

FeatureWilusa in the thirteenth century was a member of the Assuwa (or Assua), a confederacy of local minor states which probably included the states of the Troad and which had traditionally been allied to the Hittites (see feature link). The Hyrtacidae were one such group.

According to Greek writings they related by royal marriage to the rulers of Percote, and probably lived somewhere relatively close to that city. However, they form the most obscure element in the list of Trojan allies because the state or settlement to which belonged their founder, Hyrtacus, and his people was not listed in the order of battle, or has since been lost. It is more likely, however, that the Hyrtacidae - the followers of Hyrtacus - were a warband rather than a unit of troops from an existing city or state.

Probably due to the close relationship by marriage between the Hyrtacidae and Percote, it was Asius, son of Hyrtacus and Arisbe (first wife of Priam of Troy, who later married Hyrtacus), who was given the honour of leading the Percote contingent to Troy.

That contingent was made up of troops from Abydus (in Mysia), Arisbe (potentially founded by the aforementioned mother of Asius who may have had followers of her own), Practius, and Sestus (the latter on the Thracian side of the Hellespont).

The Hyrtacidae were neither Trojan nor Dardanian - although given their allegiances they may have been Luwians. The city of Sestus is frequently included in lists of Thracian city states, so that Asius, son of Hyrtacus, is often shown on lists of Thracian rulers, and perhaps rightfully so.

Central Anatolian mountains

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information from The Philistines and Other 'Sea Peoples' in Text and Archaeology, Ann E Killebrew (Society of Biblical Literature Archaeology and Biblical Studies, 2013), from The Histories, Herodotus (Penguin, 1996), from The Iliad, Homer (Translated by E V Rieu, Penguin Books, 1963), from The Kingdom of the Hittites, Trevor Bryce (1998), from The Hittites, O R Gurney (1991), from Trojans and Their Neighbours: An Introduction (Ancient Peoples), Trevor Bryce (2005), from the Argonautica, Apollonius Rhodius (3rd century BC Greek epic poem), and from External Links: the Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography, William Smith (Ed, 1854), and DNA clue to origins of early Greek civilisation (BBC News), and Geography, Strabo (H C Hamilton & W Falconer, London, 1903, Perseus Online Edition), and The Greeks really do have near-mythical origins, ancient DNA reveals (Science).)

fl c.1200 BC


Comrade of Priam of Troy. Name perhaps of Cretan origin.

Hyrtacus, leader of the Hyrtacidae, marries Arisbe, daughter of Merops of Percote. Arisbe is also the name of a city - perhaps little more than a large walled town - so it is possible that she has followers of her own and a chief settlement in her name. She is also claimed as having previously been married to Priam of Troy.

Map of the Trojan War states c.1200 BC
Troy's various regional allies at the time of the Trojan War are shown here, many of which are only mentioned in later works by Homer, Herodotus, and other Greek chroniclers (click or tap on map to view full sized)

fl c.1180s BC


Son. Led the Hyrtacidae to Troy.

c.1193 - 1183 BC

Asius, together with his sons, Adamas, Phaenops, and Nisus, leads the contingent from Percote to the Trojan War on the side of Troy (that contingent includes troops from Abydus, Arisbe, Practius, and Sestus). Asius is frequently shown as a generalised Thracian leader, and seems to fight alongside the Thracians during the war.

Unfortunately, refusing to heed Trojan warnings to abandon his chariot during the assault on the Achaean wall, he is killed by Idomeneus of Crete. One of his sons, Nisus, survives the war and becomes a follower of Aeneas as he heads to Latium to settle there (presumably taking Hyrtacidae survivors with him as his own followers).

Artist's impression of Troy
This illustration is another artist's impression of an unspecified version of Troy, although it is believed to be based on the city which existed around the time of the Trojan War, shortly before its defeat and destruction

Increasing drought in the Near East has already resulted in famine and the subsequent movement of peoples who are in search of new food supplies.

Collectively known by chroniclers as the Sea Peoples, various groups are raiding the Mediterranean coastline, attacking kingdoms and destroying cities and, in some cases, even settling in the conquered areas.

fl c.1170s BC


Brother. Led Hyrtacidae survivors to Latium?

The Trojan War feeds into this ongoing chain of calamity and destruction. With Trojan refugees fleeing in all directions, and even the victorious Mycenaeans being pushed out of their territory by migrating Dorians, both peoples probably add to the pressure on the states of the eastern Mediterranean.

Habu relief at Medinet
Attacks by the Sea Peoples gathered momentum during the last decade of the thirteenth century BC, quickly reaching a peak which lasted about forty years

The age of the migratory Sea Peoples can only be said to be over by around 1100 BC, as the turmoil and chaos (such as during Egypt's 'Third Intermediate Period' or in Syria) gives way to an already-active dark age and a gradual rebuilding of civilisation.

During this period, Anatolia's coastline largely becomes a possession of various Greek states and cities.

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