Homer’s Ancient Greek Poem Iliad has inspired the citizens of a small village in Turkey to install busts of the Trojan war heroes on their main square. Tevfikiye, is located 1 km away from the archaeological site of ancient Troy and they have named the location as “Troy Observation Terrace” (Truva Seyir Terasi).
By Dimosthenis Vasiloudis
The scope of action of the legendary Greek campaign that Homer refers to is located on the opposite side of the Aegean. It is where the northwest coasts of present-day Turkey are today. Near todays archaeological site of Troy, which was excavated for the first time by Frank Calvert and later by Heinrich Schliemann, lies the small village of Tevfikiye, where busts of the Achaean (Mycenaean Greek) and Trojan heroes stand at the specially designed central village square.
The so-called “Troy Observation Terrace” (Turkish: Truva Seyir Terası) offers an ideal view of the mythical plain of the Scamander River (Greek: Skamandros, Turkish: Karamenderes). The city of Troy itself is located on a hill of this particular plain, where the Homeric battles of the Trojan War took place.
The historic background of Homeric Troy and Scamander’s plain
Troy is one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world. In scientific terms, its extensive remains are the most significant demonstration of the contacts between the civilizations of the Mediterranean world.
Throughout the centuries, Troy has acted as a cultural bridge between the Troas region and the Balkans, Anatolia, the Aegean and Black Sea regions through migration, occupation, trade and the transmission of knowledge. Moreover, the siege of Troy by Achaean warriors from Mycenaean Greece in the 13th or 12th century BC, immortalized by Homer in the Iliad, has inspired great people of art throughout the world ever since.
According to legend, the Achaean Greeks set up their camp near the mouth of the river, where they ran aground their ships. The site of the ancient city today is about 15 kilometers from the coast. However, the ancient estuary of Scamander 3,000 years ago was about 5 kilometers further inland, opening into a bay since been silted up.
Archaeological evidence shows that Troy VI is almost certainly the Homeric Troy. Troy VI and VII existed from 1700 to 1200 century BC and cover the Middle
and Late Bronze periods. It was a city with robust fortifications, architecturally sophisticated palace complex and common houses. For that reason, it became the capital of an extensive and prosperous almost independent state between the Hittite empire and Mycenaean Greece. The city controlled the Straits of Hellespont (modern Dardanelles) and the regions of the Thracian Peninsula and Troas (and a few more districts and islands).
In general Troy VI fully meets the descriptions of the Homeric epics and other epics of the Trojan Cycle considering the richness and power of Troy. In Hittite sources, the name’s city is Wilusa, the name that Homer also uses: (Ϝ)ίλιος, Wilios. Later, names like Ilios and Ilion (Iliad) were derived when the Greeks no longer pronounced the “w” (=F). The name Τροίη, Troy was also popular and resembles another word known from Hittite texts: T(a)ruwisa.
There’s nothing strange about these double names. They may originally have referred to the citadel and the lower city, and Homer may have kept them because it offered him some metric freedom.
Troy VI survived for six centuries of prosperity and security behind her sturdy walls. The towers of the citadel walls were built around 1300 BC several decades before her destruction. The reconstruction was possibly due to increased danger because of Hittite, Achaean, Thracian, Phrygian and other aggressors.
Village in Turkey Depicting Greek Trojan War Heroes turned into a Troy-era theme park
Tevfikiye is located in the northwestern province of Çanakkale and is adjacent to the Troy ruins and the modern Troy Museum. It has been gradually turned into an archeology theme-village due to its buildings and structures reminiscent of the Troy era. In addition, there is as well its rich history and mythological values, as part of a protocol signed by the Çanakkale Governor’s Office in 2017. The goal was to make people visit the village during their tour to the ancient city of Troy and buy organic products and souvenirs from locals.
According to the recent history of the village, Bulgarian immigrants from Sevlievo settled here. They did so in order to save their lives from the 1877-1878 Ottoman-Russian War. During that time, the famous Schliemann also made excavations. Those who came therefore often made their living by working with him on the on-going excavations.
The settlers built their houses with reeds and stones they brought from the excavation site. In fact, a Greek craftsman from İntepe/Erenköy built the village mosque from the ancient city’s natural stones in 1895.
When the population increased, they decided to create a resident settlement-village in 1891. The “Square of Troy” created at a spot that overlooks the wide Troy plain and served as an observation area. The residents placed the busts of the Troy-era heroes such as Ajax, Odysseus, Achilles, Agamemnon, Patroclus, Sarpedon, Priam, Paris, Hector, Helen, Homer, and others there overlooking the famous Trojan plain.
The city today
The small village is nowadays full of ancient-looking houses. Every corner is decorated with symbols, inscriptions and graffiti about the history of Troy and the Homeric epic poem. The health center and village coffeehouse were recently renewed with the concept of the Trojan VI period buildings. The main building of the observatory also resembles the prehistoric architecture of the Trojan palatial structures. Their characteristic columns and wall ends were typical of the era. That beauty is well-reflected in the contemporary graphic representations of the city.
Inside this “House of Troy” you can feel the antiquity just looking out of the windows. When one stands at the door or wanders through the rooms, one actually feel the history of it.
A miniature waterfall was created in a field between the Troy Square and the mosque. The wedding hall in the village square is also now a museum and a culture center.
By Dimosthenis Vasiloudis
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