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Fresco of the battle of Troy. Credit: quasarphotos / Adobe Stock

Surprise Discovery Reveals Ancient City of Troy is 5,500 Years Old


The city of Troy has fascinated people for millennia. Once thought to be purely mythological, the lost city emerged as a real place in history when it was discovered in Turkey by Heinrich Schliemann in the 1870s. Archaeologists in Turkey have now made a surprising discovery indicating the ancient city could be 600 years older than previously believed. This could transform our understanding of the historic city and our past.

Experts from the Archaeology Department of Canakkale Onsekiz Mart University (COMU) have been working on the archaeological site of Troy in recent years.  

Troy is located in Turkey’s north-western Çanakkale province. It is located on a mound or tell, Hisarlık overlooking the Aegean.  Troy has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1988 and in 2018 the Turkish government celebrated the 20th anniversary of the awarding of this accolade.

The ruins of the legendary ancient city of Troy in Turkey. Credit: czamfir / Adobe Stock

The Siege of Troy

Troy was immortalized by the legendary Greek poet Homer in his epic poem The Iliad. The work was a key text in the Classical World and is often regarded as the first work in Western Literature. The historicity of the city was proven by German archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann in the 1870s, who is regarded as one of the founders of modern archaeology. The Daily Sabah reports that Troy was the setting of the ‘‘Greek Trojan War in which Spartan and Achaean warriors from Greece besieged the city in 13th century B.C’’.

When Schliemann found the site, he believed that he had found evidence of the Trojan War that was so famously portrayed in the epic poem The Iliad. The German even named gold items he found after characters in the Homeric poem, such as ‘Priam’s treasure’ and ‘Helen’s jewels’. However, there is much more to the history of the city than the reputed Greek and Trojan war.

‘The Burning of Troy’ (1759/62) by Johann Georg Trautmann. ( Public Domain )

‘The Burning of Troy’ (1759/62) by Johann Georg Trautmann. ( Public Domain )

Troy was destroyed and rebuilt many times over the millennia. It was built on a very strategic site and was as a result possibly attacked many times by invaders. The city may also have been burnt down accidentally. Moreover, earthquakes also may have destroyed the legendary city.

Since the 19 th century, ‘‘a total of 10 layers of settlements were discovered’’ reports Greece High Definition. Experts have called the layers Troy I to Troy XI. The first layer was found by Schliemann and every layer found since has been numbered and they have yielded many artifacts. These layers all represent settlements from  Bronze Age cultures to the Byzantine Empire.

The Original Troy

The new layer which indicates a previously unknown destroyed settlement on the site has been termed Troy 0. Rüstem Aslan of COMU told the Daily Sabbah. "We found traces of burns, pottery and wooden beams in the Troy 0 layer". The archaeologists had found evidence for the earliest occupation of the location.

Based on the evidence found previously it was believed that the city was approximately 4,900 years old and dated to the Bronze Age. However, the latest discovery would indicate that the city was first established around 3,500 BC. This means that the settlement to the south of the Dardanelles dates back an astonishing 5,500 years. According to Greece High Definition, this ‘‘suggests the area may have been used as a  settlement more than six centuries earlier than previously known’’.

The Enigma of Troy

Based on the various layers found at the ancient site, it appears the city had a very ancient and complex history. The latest finds, according to Argophila ‘‘may reshape our view of this fascinating ancient city’’. Historians are hoping the new layer at Troy may also provide new information not only on the evolution of the city but also on Bronze Age societies. Given the cultural and historic significance of the storied city, any future investigations will be closely followed around the globe.

Top image: Fresco of the battle of Troy. Credit: quasarphotos / Adobe Stock

By Ed Whelan



We need to stop treating myth as if it was entirely fictional.

Ed Hanson

Bruce McFarland's picture

I think I've just discovered the UNESCO World Heritage Site awarded in 1988 is actually 10 years older than originally reported by the article. 2018 is thirty years later, not 20.

Ed Whelan's picture


My name is Edward Whelan and I graduated with a PhD in history in 2008. Between 2010-2012 I worked in the Limerick City Archives. I have written a book and several peer reviewed journal articles. At present I am a... Read More

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