Troy: The Legendary City
Few epic tales are studied more than "The Odyssey" or "The Iliad," penned by Homer around 800 B.C. These fictional poems describe the Trojan War. The city of Troy was located in what is now modern-day Turkey, sandwiched between Asia and Europe. Because of its accessibility, Troy was a cultural hotbed and ideal trade locale. Homer's epic poems describe how Helen, the stunning wife of Sparta's King Menelaus, allegedly ran off with a Trojan prince named Paris. This affair reputedly caused the Trojan War and earned Helen's reputation as the face that launched a thousand ships. Menelaus launched a huge offensive on Troy, resulting in the war that may have involved a notorious wooden horse, Achilles and a number of other famous tales.
With a history so rooted in legend, it's no wonder that historians were unsure whether Troy actually existed. It's evident that Troy was abandoned following the Trojan War, from 1100 to 700 B.C. It was then resettled and revitalized before it was captured by the Romans in 85 B.C. Soon after, the civilization fizzled out and was left in ruins until its discovery in 1822. Archaeologists have since identified many layers of cities built on top of each other. The stone walls and fortresses present in the sixth and seventh oldest layers are now believed to be the Troy described in Homer's epics, and the legend of the Trojan War is now widely accepted, although its cause is still uncertain.