Troy in the Dark Ages

The Dark Age enveloped Greece; it enveloped Troy too,

for the site is barren of deposits which might be referred to the period c. 1100-700 B.C. Not one sherd of proto-geometric pottery is known to have been found at Troy—not by Schliemann, or by Doerpfeld, or by Blegen himself. We are now in effect asking what happened at Troy during the Dark Ages of Greece, from the [beginning of] the 11th to the [end of the] 8th century B.C.: and this is the answer which we must accept—that there is nothing at Troy to fill the huge lacuna. For 2000 years men had left traces of their living there; some chapters in the story were brief and obscure, but there was never yet a chapter left wholly blank. Now at last there is silence, profound and prolonged for 400 years.1

This observation of Denys Page, Professor of Greek at the University of Cambridge, is in the nature of amazement: out of a mound covering a ruined place, an archaeologist expects to extract stray objects that accumulated there in the space of centuries. In Troy there is “silence profound and prolonged” as if time itself had stopped.

But the same author stresses that “the Iliad preserves facts about the Trojans which could not have been known to anybody after the fall of Troy VIIa.”2

Thus not only did Homer know of the kingdom and people of Mycenae that were buried for centuries of the Dark Ages, but he knew also of the kingdom and people of Troy who, too, were dead, buried, and forgotten in the darkness of the Dark Ages.

The site of Troy was reoccupied late in the seventh century; but from the fall of Troy, now put by archaeologists ca. -1260, until Homer’s time, there was nothing on the surface of the mound that could disclose to the poet the many intricate details which he webbed into his epics.

It is realized that Homer knew the scene of the Aegean coast of Asia Minor of the eighth and seventh centuries; therefore, it was argued, he could not have lived in the days of the Trojan War (or shortly thereafter) in the 12th century. A poet having composed the poems in the twelfth century would not be able to introduce into them innumerable references to the Iron Age in Greece and the post-Phrygian Age in Asia Minor of the seventh century.

Was the site of Troy alone in Asia Minor an archaeological void for five hundred years, following that city’s destruction at the end of the Mycenaean Age?


  1. D. Page, “The Historical Sack of Troy,” Antiquity, Vol. XXXIII (1959), p. 31.
  2. Ibid., p. 221.