Unfortunately, it has been very difficult for archaeologists to examine the layers that correspond to the periods known as Troy III-V. This is largely due to the fact that Heinrich Schliemann’s excavations during the 19th century removed so much archaeological material–which is now lost–that it has become difficult to reconstruct much of the city. However, a few things are known:
After Troy II was destroyed by fire, it seems that its residents stayed in the city and rebuilt their homes, however, Troy III was a much more modest settlement than its predecessor in terms of architecture and material culture. The large megaron buildings of Troy II were replaced by smaller structures, which were now densely packed near the summit of the citadel. The artifacts relating to this time period were also much less opulent and there is no evidence of the luxurious treasures that are characteristic of Troy II. The defensive walls seem to have remained standing and to still have been in use.
There are some distinct changes and adaptations that are visible in the city during Troy IV. While the cultural material of the previous periods demonstrated that Troy’s inhabitants had trade contact with Aegean cultures to the west, Troy IV’s residents seem to have been more influenced by people and cultures from the Anatolian interior to the east. This is particularly evident in a new kind of domestic architecture, involving mudbrick constructions without stone foundations, and the introduction of dome-shaped ovens for preparing food.
Knowledge of Troy V is, like Troy III and IV, very limited. The settlement did seem to rebound a bit and apparently prospered more than its two predecessors, which is apparent in the improved quality of its architecture. The large defensive walls of the previous periods still appear to have been in place and much like Troy IV, pottery and other cultural material seems to indicate that the residents were influenced by Anatolian styles and culture. The houses of Troy V were damaged around the middle of the 18th century B.C., perhaps by an earthquake, as there are no signs of a fire or an attack by external enemies.
Troy VI is the most monumental of Troy’s prehistoric settlements, surpassing all previous settlements in its size and scope. It represents a time when the city flourished, the population grew, industry thrived, and grandiose houses were built. The inhabited citadel, which was surrounded by towering walls, grew to occupy a space covering 5 acres, at least twice the size of previous cities. Troy VI is often connected with the Homeric tradition, the Trojan War, and the city of Wilusa that is mentioned in contemporary Hittite texts.
Although the center of the citadel of Troy VI was destroyed by later Hellenistic and Roman building campaigns, it has still been possible to reconstruct how the settlement may have looked. Troy VI was a truly bustling city, with a sophisticated urban plan. It had cobbled streets, marketplaces, and monumental houses constructed on three terraces that rise up and encircle the highest point and center of the citadel. Buildings were large and freestanding and some even had second stories. Troy VI’s inhabitants developed a long distance network that connected them to the Greek mainland and the broader Aegean world. Horses were also introduced into the city at this time.
Excavations over the past few decades have also uncovered evidence of a large residential district lying south of the main citadel, although its extent remains somewhat controversial. This area was surrounded by an extensive defensive ditch, which enclosed a space of around fifty acres, evidence that Troy VI was around ten times larger than previously thought. It may have been home to between 4,000 and 10,000 people. Large quantities of crushed murex shells suggest that an industry specializing in the production of purple dye may have been located in this lower city.
Because of its date, size, lofty walls, and the sophistication of its buildings, many scholars have identified Troy VI with the legendary city made famous in the poems of Homer. Initially, this association was strengthened by the fact that the settlement was destroyed by a catastrophic event around 1300 B.C. During this incident many of its buildings and walls toppled, and parts of the city were burned. However, most experts now believe that this destruction was actually caused by an earthquake, and not by an attack. There is also little evidence of warfare. If a conflict as epic as the Trojan War, which lasted ten years, actually took place during Troy VI, it would be expected that military related archaeological artifacts would be widespread. But this is not really the case. However, there are intriguing signs of violence and warfare occurring in the next phase of the city, Troy VII.