Diane Kruger as Helen in Troy (2004). Costume Design By Bob Ringwood
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An epic story about war between Greeks and Trojans nowdays is considered as a narrative of folk tales, which has been stored for centuries and passed on to future generations. But this is due to the ancient story that tells about Troy. It is one of the world's oldest legends, which has not been forgotten over the centuries. The story itself inspired artists and writers of many centuries. It promted researchers and adventure seekers.
The legend tells about the city of Troy, which in the old days was located on the north-west coast territory of contemporary Turkey and was destroyed during the war. For centuries, there was no tangible evidence of the historical existence of Troy and even its location was unknown to the researchers.
At a time when German archaeologist and adventurer Heinrich Schliemann discovered Troy, he "once again gave a bridge to the past". But the legend itself still attracts the minds of researchers and continues to keep the veil to its undisclosed secrets. For its immortal fame, the legend of the Trojan War has to be commended to the legendary epic poem "Iliad" written by Homer.
Homer who wrote an epic poem about Trojan War was born on 8th Century BC. It is believed that his place of birth was on one of the islands of the Ionian Sea - Chios or Smirna. Homer's fame had certainly survived his own life, because, as long as there was an oral tradition, the songwriter, who executed the verses, did not forget to end his speech with the words "it sang Homer".
A tale about the fall of the Troy begins with a story about how Paris, son of Priam, the king of Troy, was entrusted with resolving the dispute between the goddesses: Hera, Athena and Aphrodite, which one of them is the most beautiful.
Goddesses offered to Paris the most enticing and appealing prizes if he decides for one of them.
After all, Paris should have taken into account not only the true beauty of the rivals and his fear of losers revenge, but also to choose between the following offerings: the wealth and power of all Asia, wisdom and invincibility, or love of Helen, the wife of Spartan ruler Menelaos... It's exactly Helen at that time was famous for being the most beautiful woman in the world.
Paris chose Helen, causing a tragedy that lasted ten years - his native city was destroyed, but many of its inhabitants were killed.
True Location of Troy and Its Hidden Treasures
The precise location of Priam's, Trojan King's city was unknown and always provoked disputes already since ancient times. The Roman geographer Strabon wrote that the actual city's location is 5.6 km closer to the mountains of the "Troy village". "Iliad" tells us that Troy stands on the banks of two streams that flow into the Skamandros - Σκαμανδριον River.
In one of them, the water is so hot that steam rises, while the second one is ice-cold. Many generations of scientists have once attempted to capture the legendary Troy, linking its location to the streams referred to in "Iliad". Heinrich Schliemann also once came to look for Troy there.
However, he found Troy at a low hill, about 4.8 km from the sea, in the plain area between the two rivers that are mentioned in "Iliad"as Skamandros and Simoeis - Σιμοεις. Archeologist and affectionate adventurer Heinrich Schliemann had dreamed of finding the missing Troy since childhood. In 1870 he launched archaeological excavations in Hisarlik and the whole process lasted for 20 years.
Schliemann, along with hired assistants - one hundred Turkish workers, crossed the trench to Hisarlik's hill and uncovered the ancient Troy. His confusion was huge, as he covered the hill in many archaeological stages. However, he released four cities that were built over another under the Ilya, the ancient Roman city, and decided that the second city from the bottom was his sought-after Troy. The discovery of Schliemann was not recognized by archaeological circles, therefore, the greater his triumph was when so called "Treasures of king Priam" were discovered in 1873. "Treasures of king Priam" - that's what the legendary archaeologist called them. Indeed, inspired by Homer's "Iliad", he believed that he had found the true treasures of king Priam. He thought that these treasures had remained hidden under the siege of Troy in 1184 BC. And yet, the treasures he found were much older. There were also found a lot of buckets, spear caps and earrings, apparently belonging to Troy II or Troy III (2000 BC) - that is to say, a period other than Homer's Troy-Troy VI, which was destroyed in 1260 BC.
Treasures of Troy II - "Priam's Tresures". Ancient photo. Image source: Wikimedia Commons
Jewelry Of Beautiful Helen
Heinrich Schliemann once told that, as he drew golden jewels, he handed them to his new and beautiful wife - Greek beauty Sophia. There is a photo in which the new beauty is seen, adorned with the "Helen's Jewelery". In 1869, Schliemann had married Sofia Engastromenou, a seventeen-year-old daughter of merchant from Athens. That was his second marriage. Just after archaeological excavations Sophia helped her husband secretly leave Turkey bringing away "Treasures of Priam", and later she has been photographed, embellished with legendary Helen's jewelry - the most wonderful items of this hidden treasure. There were several necklaces, bracelets, headgear, earrings and two diadems - all made of gold.
Golden diadem from excavations of Troy.
Location: Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
The main and the most colorful finding of the Trojan excavations is the famous golden diadem. It has a very sophisticated design. Two horizontal chains are vertically mounted, 90 vertical chains make a fringe. There are several rows on the side with golden leaf plates that make up decks. The whole piece of jewelry in general has been made of 12 271 gold rings, which are twisted together, forming chains. Each of the chain stitches is secured with 4066 scales in the form of golden plaques. The weight of the diadem is 193, 47 grams.
The visual form of this legendary adornment is really striking. Typologically, it belongs to the type of jewelry that was popular in the Aegean islands and the ancient Asia Minor. Goldsmiths of these ancient cultures were able to create jewelry of a complex structure and their technical skills were truly admirable. Interestingly enough that many researchers share their thoughts on the use of these jewelry in the ancient world. Many believe that it has not been a diadem, but a chest adornment (necklace), taking into account the fact that Schliemann has found these treasures in ancient burials. This means that the jewelry might have been made for a special burial ritual.
The legends of ancient Troy and the famous finding of the archaeologist and adventurer, Schliemann, do not diminish the attraction of ancient tales. They ponder between the real historical events and fantasy. Still nobody has found historical evidence of the jewelry worn by beautiful Helen! Everything is still hidden behind the veil of great secrets veil, - also the legendary Troy itself.
Only two things in the Troy have survived until now like they have been sang by Homer - it's a wind that continuously is bending long grass ((it's not anywhere else in the area), and the dwarf-like oaks that seem to grow only in this place. English writer Rose Macaulay in her book "The Towers of Trebizond" describes the magic attractiveness of the Troy in the following words:
"I think that there are already enough cities in the world, so it's better to leave the lost ones under the long grass, trees and gooseberries, so that the wind can sing to them a song echoing to far off the sea in whose waves, waiting for ten years, rocked the Greek ships ... "
Sources and references:
Noslēpumainās vietas pasaulē. Māršala ceļojumu atlants/ Red. Dž. Vestvuda (1987). [Tulk. no angļu val.] - R.: Zvaigzne ABC.
Phillips C. Jewelry: From Antiquity to the Present. - London: Thames and Hudson, 1997.
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My name is Edīte Parute and I am a fashion historian and researcher from Latvia, association member at "The Association of Dress Historians" (UK) and author of the book "Stila un modes enciklopēdija"/"Encyclopedia of Style and Fashion" (2010) as well as author of many publications.