©Christoph Haussner

Late Bronze Age Troy enjoyed trade relations with an international coterie of merchants, from the Black Sea region to the Aegean. One reason for the city’s success was its location at the entrance to the Dardanelles, the narrow straits leading from the Aegean into the Sea of Marmara, which in turn is connected by the Bosporos to the Black Sea. Prevailing winds and currents limited passage through the straits to a few days a year—meaning that trading vessels had to lay up at Troy, where goods and information were exchanged. Troy became known for its pottery, wool products and domestic horse-breeding (Homer repeatedly refers to the Trojans as “breeders of horses”). This magnificent city thrived for about 500 years (1700–1250/30 B.C.); early in the 12th century B.C. Troy was invaded and burned—a calamity of sufficient scale, perhaps, that it was remembered over the centuries in oral tradition, and then preserved forever when Homer’s epics were written down in the eighth century B.C.