Some Open Questions About the Plain of Troia
After 130 years of archaeological excavations at Troia some questions regarding the site are open today as they were when Heinrich Schliemann’s workers first set their spade to it. Such questions are, for instance: How was the plain optimised for human exploitation during the Late Bronze Age? Where were the ports of Troia? How far did the outskirts of the city extend into the plain? Reconstructions presented by the current excavation team of Troia suggest that the natural cove at Besik Bay may have been the harbour and that the plain below the citadel was an inhospitable wasteland controlled by the floods of the Karamenderes River. However, complex hydraulic installations existed at many sites in Anatolia as early as the third millennium B.C. The mole at Limantepe shows that even during the Early Bronze Age ports were artificially optimised. In Syria and Palestine, man-made ports were common place during the second millennium B.c. Many prominent Late Bronze Age hydraulic installations are known from Greece. At Troia, too, wherever scientists looked, human interference with the hydraulic system was discovered: The artificial spring caves below the citadel and the two sizeable artificial cuts through the Yeniköy ridge are the best known examples. What is more, when Troia’s significance faded during the Early Iron Age, the city of Alexandria Troas further south in the Troad with its artificial ports became the regional trading centre. Considering the high level of hydraulic engineering skills available during the Late Bronze Age, it is likely that the floodplain below the citadel of Troia was optimised for agriculture and naval traffic. No systematic investigation involving hydro-engineers and port experts has ever been conducted to develop a technical reconstruction of what the plain may have looked like. Thus, we suggested in 1999 to conduct in collaboration with the Troia excavation team a total-coverage helicopter-geophysics survey using ground-penetrating techniques to investigate the subsurface of the Troian plain. Alas, the excavation team rejected a collaboration and the Turkish Ministry of Culture never granted the permission.
KeywordsCoastal Plain Hydraulic Engineering Artificial Canal Landward Side Artificial Port
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