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Near East Kingdoms

Ancient Anatolia

 

Troad / Troas (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 the region was hit by climate-induced drought and a loss of crops during 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 (today's Mount Kaz in Turkey), and then roughly in a direct line north to the Dardanelles where it meets the Sea of Marmara, opposite the shores of Thrace. Mysia, also part of the region, lay to the immediate east.

FeatureThe Troad gained its name from the principle city in the region, Troy, which could also have been the Wilusa of Hittite records. Dardania could be included within this region, 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 states or tribes which inhabited the region around this time were mostly remembered in Greek stories which include The Iliad, covering the events of the Trojan War. While the details may be fictional, or at least clouded by several centuries of oral tradition, they probably remember key figures in the war. Warbands or cities which could be listed as originating from or being located within the Troad included the Halizones, Hyrtacidae, Kolonae, Larissa, Lyrnessos, Percote, Sestus, and Zeleia.

Following the war's conclusion and aftermath, Phrygians who had recently settled to the south-west between about 1450-1200 BC took control of the region. Their control, though, was generally limited to inland areas in Anatolia. By the sixth century the entire Aegean Coast of Anatolia had been Æolised, occupied by Æolic Greeks.

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).)

c.1193 - 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)

Odius and Epistrophus, both sons of Mecisteus, lead the contingent of Halizones to the war, on the side of Troy. Pylaemenes of the shaggy breast leads the main Paphlagonian force to fight alongside the Trojans.

Asius, together with his sons, Adamas and Phaenops, leads their contingent of Hyrtacidae from Percote on the side of Troy. This leader is frequently shown as a generalised Thracian leader, and seems to fight alongside the Thracians during the war.

Amphius and Adrastus of Percote lead units from Adresteia, Apaesus, Mount Tereia, and Pityeia, on the side of Troy. They fight alongside the Percote contingent, an assemblage of troops which consists of units from Abydus, Arisbe, Practius, and Sestus and is led by Asius.

Cygnus leads the Kolonaean contingent on the side of Troy. Whilst being invulnerable to weapons thanks to Poseidon, Cygnus is still killed by Achilles of Phthia (and transformed into a swan by Poseidon).

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

Two Pelasgian heroes are Hippothous and Pylaeus, sons of Lethus of Larissa. Hippothous is killed by Ajax during the fight for the body of Patroclus, and Pylaeus seemingly dies alongside him.

The death of Mynes at the hands of Achilles and the sacking of his Cilician city knocks Lyrnessos out of the war so that it is not able to send a force to support its ally, Troy, when the war moves onto its doorstep.

Pandarus, skilled with the bow, leads the contingent from Zeleia to the war. Eurytion, his brother and another skilled archer, accompanies him. Although it is pointed out that the Zeleians are Lycians, they fight separately from the main Lycian contingent.

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.

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 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.

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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