Henry Fanshawe Tozer.

Researches in the highlands of Turkey; including visits to mounts Ida, Athos, Olympus, and Pelion, to the Mirdite Albanians, and other remote tribes (Volume 1) online

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Site of Troy — The Ileian Plain — Excavations on the Bali-dagh —
Batieia — Atchi-keui — The Hanai-Tepe — Ilium Novum — Return to
the Dardanelles.

Just before reaching the village of Bunarbashi, we once
more passed the springs from which its name, "the Head
of the Waters," is derived. The springs themselves are
called Kirke Gheuz, or "the Forty Eyes." As these
have been the most important point in Homeric topo-
graphy, ever since their discovery by Lechevalier towards
the end of the last century, and as the question of the
site of the city of Troy depends in no slight degree
upon them, I propose that we should examine them
with some care, and make them a starting-point from
which to notice the principal objects and features of the
country that seem to correspond to those which Homer
describes. The plain of Troy has been a battle-field,
not only of heroes, but of scholars and geographers, and
the works which have been written on the subject form a
literature to themselves. In this discussion, and the
investigation of minute details which it involves, I do
not wish to entangle my readers, but will confine myself
for the present to some of the most general conclusions,
referring those who are interested in the question to the

Chap. II. The City and Plain of Troy.


Appendix at the end of Volume 11.^ But, before entering
on the subject at all, it is necessary to premise a few



The Plain of Troy.

remarks on the way in which the Homeric topography
■ought to be treated.

In the first place, it is well to remember that the state-

' See Appendix A, On the Topography of Troy.

24 TJic City and Plain of Troy. Chap. 1 1,

ments of an ancient epic poet ought not to be criticised,
as they have been by some writers, in the spirit of a land-
surveyor. To take the numbers which the poet gives,
and the distances which he describes, as a basis for exact
calculation, is to disregard the poetic element in the
narrative, and to treat verse as if it were prose. Numbers
must be mentioned in the poem, and distances must,
here and there, be either stated or implied, for otherwise
the action would lack reality ; but these are not to be
regarded as literal statements of fact. All that we can
expect is, that what is introduced should be in accord-
ance with the general conception, and that the probabili-
ties of the case should not be rudely violated ; though
even here considerable allowance must be made for
poetic licence : as where Helen on the walls of Troy
distinguishes and describes to Priam and his councillors
the Greek chieftains who are marshalling their forces
far off on the plain. In like manner we must not be
surprised if some of the features of the ground are
ignored, when it suits the convenience of the poet ; as,
for instance, the rivers, which are sometimes mentioned
and sometimes omitted in connexion with the movement
of the armies, as they pursue one another up and down
the plain. And, generally, the limits of what is possible
arc overstepped, and absolute consistency is disregarded
both in respect of time and place. Thus the fortification
with which the Greeks protect their ships — a massive
structure, provided with gates and towers — is erected in
one day ; and this is not merely vaguely stated, but
we are told that they rose at early dawn to commence it
and finished it at nightfall. Similarly as regards dis-
tance : though the space between the city and the Greek
encampment is so great that until a late period of the
war the ships are left without any defence, and that

Chap. II. Mode of treating tJte Subject. 25

when it is necessary for the Trojans to reconnoitre the
movements of the Greeks a spy has to be sent to a
point at a considerable distance from the city, yet the
two places are frequently treated as if they were near
one another, as when Hector, in his night bivouac in
front of the Greek lines, sends to the city for oxen and
sheep to provide a meal for his army,^ and when the two
hosts march from end to end of the plain several times
in the same day.

Further than this — in attempting to determine the
topography, the question that presents itself to us is not
so much what was the actual site of the city, or what
the actual features of the ground, but hov/ were they
conceived in the mind of the poet, and what were the
objects that suggested these conceptions to him. And
though this distinction in many cases will not involve
a difference, yet in some it will prove to be of import-
ance, where the realities have been adapted or idealised
for the sake of poetic treatment. In this way, too,
though we may not doubt the historical character of the
Trojan war, yet we keep ourselves clear of the discussion
of that question.

It might, indeed, seem an easier course to go a step
further, and suppose the topography to be wholly
imaginary, and to have existed only in the mind of the
poet, especially as there is more than one place that
claims to be the site of the city ; but this we are for-

* This is in the evening which succeeds the combats described in
Book VIII. The same night Hector is said to be encamped near the
monument of Ihis (x. 415), which is in the middle of the plain (xi. 166, 7).
He is there spoken of as being near the ships (ix. 76), and at the same
time in front of Troy (viii. 560). In conceiving the scene, we feel that the
whole thing is foreshortened. Elsewhere the ships are said to be "far
from the city" (v. 791, xviii. 256), and it is possible to "wander" from one
to the other (xviii. 286).

2.6 The City and Plain of Troy. Chap. II.

bidden to do by the contents of the poem itself. The
geographical descriptions which the ' Iliad ' contains are
singularly exact and graphic — far more so than those of
later Greek poets. Homer's local epithets are, with
rare exceptions, remarkably appropriate : nothing can
better describe the thin cascade of the Styx in Arcadia
than the epithet " down-dropping " {KareL^oixevov) which
he applies to it ;^ nor could the features of the Thessalian
Olympus be better characterised than as " long," " many-
crested," and "very snowy." And though the descrip-
tions of the position of towns, such as " craggy," " lofty,"
"spacious," "abounding in vineyards," "exposed to
tempests," are somewhat general in their meaning, yet, if
they had been distributed at random as ornamental
decorations, and not derived from a knowledge of the
localities themselves, it would be strange if they were
not frequently attached to the wrong places, instead
of being as strikingly applicable as they are found to be
at the present day. We should not then find Sparta
so exactly described as being situated in a deep vale full

^ In saying this I venture to differ from my friend Mr. Clark, who in his
' Peloponnesus ' (pp. 304-310) endeavours to show that Homer was not
acquainted with the Aixadian waterfall. The passage in Hesiod, which
describes the Styx as —

TToXvuVVflOV vSoop

\pvxpov, o t' fK Trerprjs KCLTaKei^erai t^Ki^oltolo

h^7)Ki)s (Theog. 7S5) —
explains more fully what Homer meant by KaTeiP6iJ.evov : indeed, Mr. Clark
himself says that " the Homeric ideal is that of a great river falling down
in a sheer cataract to the underworld, and there running with a mighty
stream to infinite distance." Now, considering that the waterfall of the
Styx in Arcadia is almost the only cascade in Greece, and is of great
height, and in a remarkably precipitous position, it is hard to believe that
the coincidence between this and the Homeric description is merely acci-
dental. No doubt the Styx was conceived of as a river of the nether world,
but that does not prevent the idea of it from having been derived from a
stream flowing in daylight, and being permanently associated with it.

Chap. II. Homei'ic Epithets. 27

of rifts and fissures, nor Epidaurus as being suited for
the growth of vines, nor Tiryns, the ruins of which
are the most massive in all Greece, as "well walled."^
Again, to come nearer to the district of Troy, we find
the features of the neighbouring region described with
equal accuracy ; the islands of Tenedos, Lemnos, and
Imbros, in their respective positions ; the peak of lofty
Samothrace appearing over the intervening mass of the
last-named island, and thus, as the author of ' Eothen '
has so well described it, enabling Poseidon to look down
from its summit on the plain of Troy ; the Hellespont,
with its rapid current, and the opposite coast of Thrace ;
and to the south the promontory of Lectum, which
terminates the chain of Ida towards the yEgean, and
Gargarus, the highest point in all the surrounding
country, which is chosen as the fitting seat of the king
of gods and men. When we find the geographical
accuracy of the poet extending thus far, we cannot but
feel that there is an antecedent probability in favour
of its being found also in the locality which is the scene
of the action, and this is confirmed by the fact that,
though the plan of the topography of the poem is
simple, yet the position of the sites and objects which it
contains are definitely conceived. Indeed, on this point
all those who have lately explored the plain, and among
them several very able scholars, are agreed. Nor does
this question seem to be materially afi"ected by the
independent question of the unity or plurality of author-
ship of the poem. Some of those who have worked out
the details of the topography most carefully are advo-
cates of a plurality of authors ; and the latest explorer
in the field, von Hahn, while he believes in the mythical

"* Ko'i\-i]v AaKidai/xova Kr]T(ieaaav, a.inrtKoivr' "Emoavpov, TifjvvBa T6i-

The City and Plain of Troy. Chap. 1 1.

origin of the story of Troy, is so firmly convinced of the
accuracy of the description of the locahties, that he
considers it probable that "tlie form in which the 'Iliad'
has come down to us in its essential features is derived
from the Troad itself."^

The topography of the 'Iliad' is somewhat of the
following character. A plain of considerable extent,
large enough for the movement of vast armies, extends
between the city of Troy and the Hellespont, where
there is a long line of beach inclosed between two pro-
montories." The city is situated on a hill, behind which,
at no great distance off, is another plain, called the
Ileian or Idsean, close to the valleys of Mount Ida:'
the citadel or Pergamus is in a lofty position, while the
lower part of the city reaches almost to the plain, where
is the principal gate, called the Scaean, and in its
neigfhbourhood two remarkable sources of water.^ In
the plain in front of the city flow two rivers, the Sca-
mander and Simois, running nearly parallel to one
another, it would seem, for some distance, as one of the
principal conflicts is described as taking place between
them,^ and then joining their waters,'" and flowing in a
united stream to the Hellespont. In the same part
of the plain rises a conspicuous hillock, called Batieia, or
"Bramble-hill,"" and a good way off, though in what
exact direction we are not told, a tumulus, named after
an old hero yEsyetes, stands in a commanding position,
and serves as a point from which to reconnoitre the
movements of the Greeks.'^ In addition to this, there is
a high hill, called Callicolone or " The Beautiful Mound,"
in the neighbourhood of the Simois,"^^ and other objects,

5 ' Die Ausgrabungen auf der Homerischen Pergamos,' p. 56.

« II. xiv. 33-6. ^ xxi. 556-561. 8 xxii. 147. " vi. 2, 3.

1*^ V. 774. " ii. 811. ^- ii. 791-4- '^ •'^^- 53-

Chap. II. Topography of the Iliad. 29

such as the monument of Ihis, which are used as land-
marks in the descriptions, but on which httle stress can
be laid. Any position, however, which is to claim to
be the site of Homer's Troy, ought to correspond
sufficiently well to the general description given above to
account for the conceptions in the mind of the poet,
allowance of course being made for such changes as
may have passed over the country in the lapse of

To return now to the springs at Bunarbashi. Pro-
ceeding westwards from the village, you soon arrive at
the two first of these, which are situated in the rocky
ground at the edge of the plain, about sixty feet from
one another, with a gnarled willow-tree growing between
them. They are both about five feet square, and are
encased on three sides by marble slabs, on which the
Greek women of Bunarbashi wash their clothes ; beneath
these the water gushes out from numerous sources. The
streams thus formed join one another a little way below,
and are shortly afterwards met by a rivulet flowing from
the mountains, by the side of which another limpid
spring issues from the rocks. From this group of foun-
tains the little river continues its course towards the
west in several channels, through a natural garden of its
own making, receiving occasional contributions from
other springs, until, after running somewhat less than
half a mile, it is joined by a more copious stream, which
rises hard by in a broad shallow basin, large enough
almost to be called a small pond. This basin is enclosed
by masonry, which is thought to be of great antiquity.
All the environs of these sources and rivulets are of the
most charming description, from the freshness of the
grass, so rare a sight during the summer in these parched
countries, and the abundant foliage by which they are

30 The City and Plain of Troy. Chap. II.

shaded. Besides the willows and other more imposing-
trees, there is a plentiful undergrowth of bright green
fig-bushes, of agnus castus, with its lilac flowers, and of
palluria, with its flat, circular, pale-yellow pods, which
hang from the branches like so many coins.

Now, let us take Homer's description of the springs in
the neighbourhood of Troy. It occurs in the story of the
pursuit of Hector by Achilles in front of the city-walls,
and is thus translated by Lord Derby : —

" They by the watch-tower, and beneath the wall
Where stood the wind-beat fig-tree, rac'd amain
Along the public road, until they reach'd
The fairly-flowing fount whence issued forth
From double source, Scamander's eddying streams.
One with hot current flows, and from beneath,
As from a furnace, clouds of steam arise :
'Mid summer's heat the other rises cold
As hail, or snow, or water crystallized ;
Beside the fountain stood the washing-troughs
Of well-wrought stone, where erst the wives of Troy
And daughters fair their choicest garments wash'd
In peaceful times, ere came the sons of Greece." "

In reading this passage, the first point that strikes us
is that the description is definitely drawn, and is intended
in the main to represent a really existing place. Next,
the question suggests itself, in what sense are these
fountains spoken of as streams of the Scamander.? They
cannot be the sources of that river, for these, as we have
seen, are far away in Mount Ida — if, that is to say, the

'^ II. xxii. 145-156. The following are the most important lines :—
Kpouudi 5' 'Lko.vov KaWippSci}, ivda. Se -Kriyal
howl avcC'iafTovai 'XKap.di'dpov SivrievTos.
7) jxkv yap 6' vSari Aiapy pf'ei, ajx(pl 5e Kcnrvhs
yiyverai e| avTrjS, wael wvphs aidofUvoio'
7] 5' ereprj flepei' irpopeei e'lKvTa x^^^CVf
^ X^ivi ■^vxp\h V f'l I'SaTos KpuffrdWci!,

Chap. II. The Sp7'ings near Troy. 31

Mendere corresponds to the Scamander ; and of this
there can be little doubt, as it is so pre-eminently the
river of the plain, from its size and body of water :
the epithets, too, which are applied to the Scamander —
"great," "deep flowing," "with deep eddies" — and the
actions attributed to it, such as bearing along crowds of
drowning men and horses,^^ only suit its stream ; and the
appellation of Xanthus, or "yellow," which belonged to
Homer's river, implies a current at times swollen and
turbid, and not a quiet stream, with a short course, and
derived almost entirely from springs.^'' Probably the two
best explanations of the difficulty are those which were
given in ancient times.^''' According to one of these, the
fountains are called sources of the Scamander, as being
the head-waters of a tributary of that river ; and instances
are not wanting to show that the intermediate course of
a stream is sometimes ignored in this way at the fountain-
head. According to the other, they are so called because,
in accordance with an idea common amongst the Greeks
concerning rivers, part of the waters of the Scamander
were supposed to pass underground and reappear at this
point. The latter interpretation is given very clearly by
Cowper, who translates the passage thus : —

" And now they reach'd the running rivulets clear,
"W here from Scamander's dizzy flood arise
Two fountains." ^^

Let us see now whether any correspondence can be
traced between the springs described above and those

^* ixiyas, ^aOvppoos, /SafluSiVr/s. — II. xxi. IO-16.

i** Lechevalier's idea, that the Bunarbashi river is the Scamander, and
the Mendere the Simois, is now pretty generally given up.

^^ Strabo, xiii. I. § 43.

1^ The Scholiast on this passage says : o yap 'SKa/xavSpos virSyeios yiv6-
jxevos eV 'lAi'y ovo avaSiSoocri Trrjyas, atf)' up ol icpovvoi.

32 The City and P lam of Troy. Chap. II.

which Homer mentions. The poet speaks of two foun-
tains, one of which is cold in summer, while the other is
v/arm in zvintcr{{or this seems to be implied by the anti-
thesis), and is covered with smoke. In the literal sense
of the words this certainly is not the case with the
sources at Bunarbashi ; but yet, on further examination,
it may perhaps be shown that there is that in their
appearance which would suggest to the poet the idea he
has thus expressed. Though the springs are not two
only, but many, yet they would naturally be conceived
of as forming two groups, since one of the two rivulets is
derived from those nearest to the village, while the other
is drawn from the large shallow reservoir. Again, as
regards the temperature, there does not appear to be any
real difference between them, as most of them measure
about 64° Fahrenheit ; the variations which some tra-
vellers have observed are probably to be accounted for
by their not having placed the thermometer close to the
point from which the water issues, since everywhere else
it is very soon affected by the heat of the atmosphere.
But the smaller sources, from not being so much exposed
to the heat of the sun, are naturally colder in summer
than what is contained in the wide basin : in winter, on
the other hand, as all the springs are deep-seated, and
consequently of the same temperature all the year round,
they must be warmer than the atmosphere, and must
emit vapour in cold weather — an effect which would be
far more visible over a considerable pool than over a
number of small and scattered fountains. On this point
I made inquiries from my Greek host, at Bunarbashi,
George Menzous, and he assured me that he had often
seen the sources smoking in winter. The popular ima-
gination would naturally lay hold of these two pecu-
liarities — the one spring or group of springs being cool in

Chap. II. Temperature of the Springs. 33

summer, the other smoking in winter ; and the poet,
finding the tradition of a hot and cold spring existing on
the spot, and admirably suited for poetic treatment,
would make use of it for his own purposes, without
caring whether it was literally true. It should also be
observed, if we take the latter of the two explanations
given above of the Homeric fountains being sources of
the Scamander, how well adapted this position is to
foster the idea that part of that river reappeared here
after running underground, since the Mendere flows
directly on the opposite side of the intervening hill to the
south, and from thence makes a sudden bend before it
emerges into the plain.

The spectacle here presented to us of two streams
rising so near one another at separate points, and then
by their combined waters at once forming a river, is one
that would anywhere attract the attention of the geo-
grapher, and still more that of the poet ; but especially
is this the case in a country like Turkey, where water
is so valuable and copious perennial streams so rare.
There are not, indeed, many such in the whole of the
Levant. Hence it is with good reason that this feature
has been taken as a strong argument in favour of placing
the city of Troy on the neighbouring heights behind
Bunarbashi. There is no other position in the neighbour-
hood of the plain which possesses a source of water that
can in any way correspond to those which Homer
describes. Of course it is possible that these fountains
may have disappeared, as some fountains are said to
have disappeared in classical times ; but, as a matter of
fact, almost all the famous sources of antiquity — Castalia,
Arethusa, Callirrhoe, Aganippe, and others — have come
down to us, some of which are insignificant in size when
compared with those we are speaking of And when we


34 TJic City and Plain of Troy. Chap. II.

do find in a position otherwise suitable a remarkable
natural object of this kind, corresponding fairly to the
ancient description, we shall not be far wrong in con-
cluding that they may be identified.

Let us now mount the hill behind Bunarbashi, or Bali-
dagh, as it is called, and see whether it is an appropriate
place for the site of ancient Troy. A gradual ascent of
about a mile and a half from the village, towards the
south-east, brings you to three tumuli, which stand near
together at the commencement of a level ridge of some
width : the first of these is conspicuous from below, and
forms an excellent landmark to point out the direction
to the summit. On the way two slight depressions have
to be crossed, one of which is a sort of gully ; the hard
limestone is half covered with a thin sprinkling of soil,
but the dwarf oaks and undergrowth are plentiful, and
serve as cover for game. We put up a hare and a large
covey of red-legged partridges, as we passed through
them, and several eagles were soaring above, probably on
the look-out for such prey. The first tumulus is com-
posed of small stones, and has a few shrubs growing
about it ; on the side where the ascent was longest, it
measured twenty paces from top to bottom. This mound
has been sometimes called the tomb of Hector, but with-
out good reason ; for if this was the site of Troy, the
buildings must have extended much further towards the
plain, and Homer relates that Hector was buried without
the walls.'^ The second and largest tumulus was opened
some years ago by Mr. Frank Calvert, the Consul's
brother, who carried a shaft into the centre of it, whence
the interior lies exposed to view. The mound itself is
formed of a mixture of earth and stones, but in the centre

" II. xxiv. 783, foil.

'Chap. II. Bali-dagh. 35

there is a structure, square in form, and measuring about
14 feet by 12, which rises from the rock which forms its
base to the top of the mound. This is composed of
large irregular stones, roughly hewn on the outward face
alone, and put together without cement, the space in the
interior being filled in with small loose stones. Its
appearance is certainly not that of a place of burial, and
it has been conjectured that it may have been the base
of a public monument, or the foundation of an altar or
shrine.^" The third, which is smaller than the other two,
and flat at the top, has more the appearance of a heaped
mound of earth. In the neighbourhood of each of these
tumuli is a pit, from which, perhaps, the materials may
have been taken of which they were made.

The view towards the north from the so-called tomb of
Hector is very extensive and striking, and the country is
better seen from this point than from any other, because
from the summit of the Bali-dagh the sources at Bunar-
bashi and the neater part of the plain are excluded by
this shoulder of the ridge. The character of the scenery
is in marked contrast with that of Greece, in which
sharply-cut mountain outlines and deep valleys or dry
light-soiled plains prevail : here the low hills, which
enclose the level ground, are rounded in form, and the
patches and stripes of green, which remain in places even
during the summer months, give evidence of an unusually
abundant supply of water. The distant view comprises
the European shore of the Hellespont, Imbros with the
peak of Samothrace appearing over its broken summits,
Tenedos lying close to the coast, and Lemnos forming a
long line on the horizon, just over the east end of which

Online LibraryHenry Fanshawe TozerResearches in the highlands of Turkey; including visits to mounts Ida, Athos, Olympus, and Pelion, to the Mirdite Albanians, and other remote tribes (Volume 1) → online text (page 3 of 31)