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by Archaeology Newsroom

Ubi Troia Fuit…

The Greeks of the early historic antiquity ignored the exact location of the heroic Ilion, the sacred city of Priamos praised by Homer, while various sites of the Troad claimed its epic identity. As time passed by, the candidature of New Ilion, the present Hisarlik, was promoted, although it never prevailed.

In modern times the search for Ilion continued, and almost all scholars are now persuaded that it was found in Hisarlik through Schliemann’s excavations. One, however, wonders, what was the criterion by which this search was made? What were the distinctive characteristics on which this identification was based? The answer is one-dimensional, since the only criterion was the cyclopean walls discovered in the site, which resemble to those of the hypothetical capital of King Agamemnon. On the contrary, the walls considered as the ideal are a mere magnification and an idealization of the shepherds’ enclosure, a reflection of the admirable walls of the utopical Scheria: walls made of poles and stones, alike the Achaeans’ walls. Homer describes the walls of Ilion as having the same features, using the relevant epithetical adjuncts. Their probable difference lies in their height, size and in the absence of moat.

As regards the cyclopean walls of Mycenae, they served in fact as the starting point not of Homer, but of the Homerists, the earlier and the later ones. A starting point that progressively becomes even more doubtful, insecure and problematic: The poet not only makes no reference whatsoever to the Mycenaean walls, but it seems that he also locates Agamemnon’s city in a completely different site from the one -or ones- the early and late antiquity have located Mycenae.