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Near East Kingdoms

Ancient Anatolia

 

Lyrnessos (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.

FeatureMysia 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. Wilusa 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 Cilician city of Lyrnessos (or Lyrnessus) was located in the Troad, to the south-east of Mount Ida.

According to legend, Achilles of Phthia made a 'great foray' to the south of Mount Ida where he attacked twenty-four cities, including Lyrnessos. This he sacked, killing the king, Mynes. Homer relates that Achilles took the late king's wife, Briseis, as his concubine, only for Agamemnon of Mycenae to take her for himself when he had to hand back his own concubine to her father. This began a feud between the two which was only ended by the death of Patroclus outside the walls of Troy.

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

Selepos

No details known other than a name.

fl c.1180s BC

Eunor / Eunos / Evenus

Son. Ruling during the Trojan War.

? - c.1183 BC

Mynes

Son. Killed by Achilles of Phthia.

? - c.1183 BC

Epistrophos / Epistrophus

Brother.

c.1183 BC

The states or tribes which inhabit the Troad around this time are remembered in Greek stories which include The Iliad, covering the events of the Trojan War. Such stories probably remember key figures in the war with units being provided by various groups or cities which have a connection with the Troad.

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)

The death of Mynes at the hands of Achilles of Phthia and the sacking of the city knocks Lyrnessos out of the war so that it is not able to send a force to support its ally, Troy, when the fighting moves onto its doorstep. As well as killing Mynes, Achilles also kills three brothers of his wife, Briseis, and then takes her as his prize.

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.

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.

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

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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