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Near East Kingdoms

Ancient Anatolia

 

Zeleia (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 city of Zeleia was one such city within the Troad.

The city was located at the foot of Mount Ida in the south-eastern corner of the Troad (today known as Mount Kaz, which occupies a broad geographic base between Çanakkale and Balıkesir, part national park and part collection of rustic villages). It was considered to be holy to Artemis, a tradition which continued into the Classical period of the first millennium BC. The people of Zeleia are linked by Homer to Lycia in the south, which suggests that the Zeleians could have been an early division of that people even though no records exist to prove such a claim.

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.1180s BC

Lykaon / Lycaon

Ruler (not the Lycaon, son of Priam of Troy).

? - c.1183 BC

Pandarosmid / Pandarus

Son. Killed at Troy.

c.1193 - 1183 BC

Pandarus, skilled with the bow, leads the contingent from Zeleia to the Trojan War on the side of Troy. 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.

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)

Pandarus is characterised by The Iliad (Penguin 1963 edition) as a treacherous fool. After sabotaging a truce by wounding Menelaus of Sparta, he is killed by Diomedes of Argos when a spear hits him in the face, severing his tongue.

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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