What did Trojans Look Like?

Sometimes it's possible to get a good idea what people from the distant past looked like. To do this, scientists called physical anthropologists study the human skeletons found by archaeologists. Anthropologists can tell many things from fragments of bone and teeth: whether a person was a man or a woman, how tall and what age the person was, and whether they had certain diseases.

Another way to find what people looked like is to study their artwork. It often shows how they saw themselves, and this helps complete our picture. At Troy, though, we have very few examples of either sets of bones or human images! So it is nearly impossible to say what the Trojans looked like, especially for the earlier periods.

Later, in Greek and Roman times, we have more helpful artwork; but the people in Troy VIII and Troy IX artwork look much like people from Greece or Rome.

Throughout Bronze Age Troy very few depictions of humans or even animals have been found. We call such a culture "iconoclastic" because the people seem to prefer geometric patterning for decoration, rather than figures. Figurative artwork which they imported from other places does not help very much. It tells us about the original creator in another place, but less about the user, except to suggest what they admired.

This early Troy VI grave is a young person of some status, judging from the expensive imported items found in the burial. Such a find at Troy is unusual.

Archaeologists at Troy have found several Bronze Age adult burials, but they are generally cremations where the body is burned and then the remains are placed in a ceramic vessel and buried. The few bones and fragments that have been found may yet yield secrets. New scientific work with the genetic make-up of past Trojans, using DNA sampling and analysis, could tell us a lot about what kind of people lived at Troy. Here is some exciting work for future scientists!