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KUB XXIII. 13: a possible contemporary Bronze Age source for the sack of Troy/Hisarlik?

  • Ove Hansen (a1)


The cuneiform tablet from the Hittite capital Hattusa/Boğazköy, KUB XXIII. 13, reports Hittite warfare in western/north-western Asia Minor around 1240 BC, when the so-called Seha River Land fought against the Hittites and their king Tuthaliyas IV As the date of the war is contemporary with the sack of ‘Mycenaean’ Troy VI, there is a possibility that the conflict described in the tablet could have provided the historical background for the Iliad. Moreover, the etymology of the River Seha seems to be the same as that of the Scamander at Hisarlik, but the Dardanelles could also originally have had that name.



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1 ‘A new look at one Ahhiyawa text’, in Sedat Alp'a Armağan: Hittite and Other Anatolian and Near Eastern Studies in Honour of Sedat Alp (Türk Tarih Kurumu Basimevi; Ankara, 1992), 236, 242–3. This paper unfortunately appeared too late for me to consider in my recent article, submitted in the autumn of 1992, ‘A Mycenaean sword from Boğazköy–Hattusa found in 1991’, BSA 89 (1994), 213–15. Güterbock convincingly demonstrated that KUB XXIII. 13 should not be redated to Tuthaliyas II, at the end of the 15th cent. BC, but still belongs to the reign of Tuthaliyas IV, in the last half of the 13th cent. BC. Nevertheless, there is no doubt that the Mycenaeans did take over the old Minoan colonies in western Asia Minor at the end of the 15th cent. BC, so that there remains a theoretical possibility that the historical information offered by KUB XXIII. 13 could also suit with a possible Ahhiyawan/Mycenaean campaign in north-western Asia Minor in the time of Tuthaliyas II, who brought the sword to Hattusa and dedicated it there, as his inscription states, ‘to the Storm-God, his lord’. I am much obliged to N. P. Skøtt Jørgensen of the University of Århus, who in a letter of 11 Feb. 1995 drew my attention to this error. It is therefore he too whom I must thank for indirectly causing me to write this paper, which arises from it.

2 See e.g. Garstang, J. and Gurney, O. R., The Geography of the Hittite Empire (Occasional Publications of the British institute of Archaeology in Ankara, 5; London, 1959), 96–7.

3 Proceedings of the Eighth International Colloquium on Mycenaean Studies, Ohrid 1985 (Skopje, 1987), 343–50.

4 Pokorny, J., Indogermanisches etymologisches Wörterbuch, i (Berne, 19491959), 889, 893–4.

5 Hansen, O., ‘Reflexions of Bronze-Age topography of NW Anatolia’, Anatolica, 20 (1994), 227–31.

6 Garstang and Gurney (n. 2), 102–3.

7 Treaty, paragraph 11 Garstang–Gurney.

8 The Annals of Tuthaliyas (II), KUB XXIII, 11 and 12.

9 Ed. pr. Ünal, A., Ertekin, A., and Ediz, İ., ‘The Hittite sword from Böğazköy-Hattusa, found 1991, and its Akkadian inscription’, Müze, 4 (19901991), 4652 (in Turkish with English translation). Cf. Hansen (n. 1).

10 See Gordon, E. L., ‘The meaning of the ideogram dKASKAL.KUR = “Underground Water-Course” and its significance for Bronze Age historical geography’, Journal of Cuneiform Studies, 21 (1967), 7088; Hansen (n. 5), 227–9.

11 Meaning ‘the Land of the Storm-God (Tarhuis)’. The relevant Hittite texts are KUB XXIII, 11 and 12. Cf. Hansen (n. 1), 214 with n. 7.

12 For the historical realities behind the reported migrations of the Thracians to north-western Asia Minor at the end of the Bronze Age see Cramer, J. A., Minor, Asia (Oxford, 1832), i. 78–9 and Meyer, E., Geschichte des Altertums, i3. 692 n. 473, 736 n. 491, iii, l2. 301, 569.

13 LSJ 499 s.v. ἐϰ iii. 3.

14 See e.g. Korfmann, , ‘Troia-Ausgrabungen 1992’, Studia Troica, 3 (1993), 137 with pls. 1–2, concerning the Südburg belonging to Troy VI–VII.

15 FGrHist 1 F 182 Jacoby: Σχαί [Σχαιοί edd.] ε̆θνος μεταξὺ τῆς Τρωάδος χαὶ τῆς Θράιχης ὡς ῾Εχαταῖος ἐν Εὺρώπῃ i.e. the southermost tip of Gelibolu. That the Skaian Gate at Troy was also called the Dardanian Gate further corroborates, I think, the equation of Hittite Seha with Egyptian Drdn/Dardania. Cf. Bürchner, , RE IIIA. 424 s.v. Skaiisches Tor: ‘Ich möchte vermuten, daβ er wie Δαρδάνιοι auf den Namen eines Volksstammes der Σχαιοὶ zurückgeht.’ Roer, H. H., De nominibus heroum propriis, quae in Iliade inveniuntur, ab ethnicis derivatis (Münster, 1914), 7 derives the term Skaios ‘from an Anatolian-Thracian people’. Thus it may be taken as proved (as suggested above, n. 13), that as early as the Bronze Age the Thracians had brought their name to Troy/Seha/Skamandria.

16 ‘Prehistoric sites in Northwest Anatolia’, Anatolian Studies, 19 (1969), 71, map of distribution.

17 See above, n. 2.

18 After this paper had been accepted for publication news reached me that a seal ring had been discovered during the 1995 excavations at Hisarlik, with an inscription in Luwian hieroglyphics on both sides consisting of a man's and a woman's name, the man being called a scribe. This is our very first written piece of evidence from Late Bronze Age Troy. I thank N. P. Skøtt Jørgensen for bringing to my attention (in a letter of 14 Nov. 1996) a reference to the find in Die Zeit, 27 Oct. 1995, which states that me ring has been dated to the 11th cent. BC. Thus Luwian seems to have been the language of the Trojans/Sehaites; since Seha was explicitly named after a ‘river’—the Dardanelles—it is possible that the capital of the country had another name, e.g. Troy/Taruisa, meaning of course ‘the City of the Storm-God’. Very probably Thrace/Taruisa/Troy was mentioned in a Linear B tablet from Pylos, PY An 172: see M. Ventris and J. Chadwick, Documents in Mycenaean Greet 2, 583 s.v. ta-ra-ke-wi[-jo?], cf. Der Kleine Pauly, v. 777 s.v. Thrake for Mycenaean Tre-ke-wi[-ja].

Furthermore, archaeological evidence of warfare was uncovered during the 1995 campaign at Hisarlik at least for the sack of Troy after 1200 BC. I quote from Siebler, M., ‘Hatte die Ilias doch recht?’, Antike Welt, 26 (1995), 473, foot of col. 1: ‘Kriege hat Troia im Laufe der Jahrtausende öfters erlebt. Die eindeutigen Spuren eines in der ersten Hälfte des 12. Jh. v. Chr. (Troia VIIa) verlorenen Krieges sind jetzt in der südwestlichen Unterstadt nachgewiesen worden. Eine Brandschicht in Häusern und im Freien belegt dies ebenso wie Steinpfeilspitzen, Haufen von Schleudersteinen oder eine Lanzenspitze. In einem Raum fanden die Ausgräber die Bronzestatuette einer orientalischen Gottheit im Typ der “standing warrior figurines”, die vermutlich von einem Podest herabgefallen war, dazu Gold- und Bronzeschmuck sowie eine Karneolperie mit der Darstellung einer Antilope. All dies sind deutliche Hinweise auf eine Katastrophe, unter anderen Umständen wären diese Dinge aus den Ruinen geborgen worden.’

KUB XXIII. 13: a possible contemporary Bronze Age source for the sack of Troy/Hisarlik?

  • Ove Hansen (a1)


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