Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Troy and Çanakkale

So I'm still on the bus I was on when I wrote yesterday's post. You'll be pleased to know we haven't fallen down any cliff faces into the sea (I was a bit worried there for a while, but we're back on solid sea-level ground now). The island of Lesbos can be seen just off the coast, and lots of the buildings we pass have solar cells on the roof. (At least I think it's Lesbos. That's what someone said.) The towns we've been past seem quite efficient: lots of houses in a small close-knit area, sometimes apartment buildings, surrounded by semi-wilderness. You do see quite a few skeletal buildings, some of which haven't ever been finished and some of which are ruins.

The reason I got up at 6.45 this morning was to catch a bus for Troy with the Aqueduchess. We crossed the Dardanelles by car ferry and set tyre on Asia for the first time, and it wasn't long before we were alighting outside the ancient city of Troy. I'd heard there wasn't much left, and was pleasantly surprised to find lots and lots of obviously-ruinous stones and some very well-preserved city walls. There were nine different cities on this site in nine different layers, which makes it difficult for archaeologists because to get to the first layer you have to dig down and destroy the other eight layers.

They have a large replica Trojan horse you can get inside and have your picture taken, so we did that while our guide explained that a likely theory for the horse is that it was actually a tribute statue to Poseidon. The layer that's generally accepted as the layer of Homer's Illiad was destroyed in an earthquake, so the theory goes that, rather than soldiers hiding inside a large wooden horse, the end of the war was aided by an earthquake. Poseidon is the Greek god of earthquakes and horses as well as the sea, so the Greeks may have built a horse statue to thank him for his aid in defeating the Trojans.

The foundations of the Homeric watch tower are still there hulking in front of the five-metre thick cementless wall of the citadel. You walk into the passage leading to one of the gates and turn a corner (the corner is to prevent battering rams being used), climb some steps and come across more ruins, and more and more beyond them. Roman numerals are everywhere, showing what layer a particular set of ruins belongs to, and our guide was good at explaining what each one was. The oldest town on this site existed five thousand years ago and held a thousand people, while the newest two were Greek and Roman cities. At one point there are three wells that were used for sacrifices - the wells would fill with blood rather than water.

I was impressed by the Homeric main ramp from the lower town to the citadel, which is still pretty flat after three thousand years. You wouldn't want to try to drag a battering ram up it.

I would have liked to stay longer at Troy, but we were back on the bus and arriving in Çanakkale by eleven. We had the most beautiful lamb kebab for lunch, sat in a cafe on the waterfront and then boarded the bus for Ayvalik, which is where I am now. I currently have Internet but may not for some time, so I'll post this now and give you all the details on Ayvalik later.

Hosca kalin!

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