The fiercest Trojan war was fought at the beginning of the 20th century. More than 200,000 people died in the Battle of Gallipoli during World War I. In this war, allied forces sought (and failed) to wrest control over the Dardanelles—the straits once ruled by the Trojans—from the Turkish army.

But perhaps the biggest threat to Troy came in the last decade of this century. It was a planned conquest that would shed no blood.

After the end of the Cold War, the Troad was no longer a military zone, and land speculators made plans to build vast vacation resorts on the site, burying the landscape so impressively described by Homer and turning Troy into an island in an ocean of gray concrete houses.

Fortunately, the plans were halted in autumn 1996, when the Turkish government declared the area around Troy a national historical park. Hopefully, by the end of 1998, Troy will be added to UNESCO’s list of world cultural heritage sites and a large new museum—for which the Turkish government granted $3 million in August 1997—will be completed.

Finds from Troy have been distributed among more than 50 museums and collections around the world, with many of the objects simply held in storage. Bringing them—or at least some of them—back where they once rested will be one of the most challenging tasks in the years to come. The Trojan gold now in the Pushkin Museum, in Moscow, is claimed by both Germany and Russia. But why shouldn’t the quarrel conclude without embarrassment to either side—by giving the gold back not to a state power but rather to the landscape from which it originated?

Troy’s promise is that it might become what it once was: a place of cultural exchange between east and west, north and south. And something more—perhaps the site that has seen so many senseless wars can become a meeting ground for peaceful dialogue. To make this a reality, Troy, more than ever, needs many sympathetic friends.