June 26- The Iliad Comes to Life

After traveling for six hours, we took a car ferry across the narrow strait that links the Aegean Sea and the Bosphorus. A half hour later we arrived at the archaeological site of Troy. Before entering the archaeological site, we had lunch at a restaurant run by an expert guide for ancient Troy (who also wrote a book on Troy). We all climbed up inside an artist’s gigantic model of the Trojan Horse and then walked through the archaeological site. We learned a lot about the several layers of occupation over the course of 5,000 years. By scholarly consensus, layer 6 is the city featured in Homer’s epic poem The Iliad (“Ilios” and “Ilium” are other names for Troy). Level 6 has evidence of violent destruction at around 1,250 b.c.e. The destruction of the city took place at the end of the Bronze Age and the story circulated for 400 years in oral tradition (singing poets who would travel from festival to festival) before it was written down during the Iron Age. How amazing to think that a story told during the tenth year of a war focusing on a two week period (mostly just three days) over 3,000 years ago still tells us so much about what it means to be human! 
The shoreline in Homer’s Troy was quite close to the city. Over the centuries, the harbor silted up and the coastline now lies a few miles away from the archaeological site. By the time Paul the Apostle came through this area a couple of times, Troy had been buried and lost. A few miles away on the (new) shoreline, Paul spent time in the town of Troas. It was there that he had a vision of a man from Macedonia (to the west in northern Greece) requesting that Paul come over to Europe to preach the Gospel. This means that European and American Christianity owes it existence to the vision from God that Paul had while preaching in the region that we visited today. Paul passed through here on at least one other occasion when he sent instructions for his co-workers to pick him up in Assos (a few miles south on Troas) so that they could all sail together to Palestine in order to be in Jerusalem for the celebration of Pentecost sometime in the early 50s.