Troy and Troas have always been a central issue for ancient and modern scholars dealing with Hellenic and Roman identities and cultural history. Despite the huge interest for the city destroyed by the Achaeans, the site of Troy was rediscovered only in the 1870s by Heinrich Schliemann. The long history of the search for Troy, however, began already in Antiquity, at the precise moment when the heritage of Ilion was contested. The aim of this paper is to explain the mechanisms of the loss and of the difficult rediscovery of Troy.
After recalling the main opinions which dominated the debate about Troy from the Renaissance to the 19th century, I will reanalyze their ancient evidence: the Greek and Roman texts which attest a correct identification of the site of Troy with Ilion allow us to understand how a mythical space, represented in the Homeric epic, could be interpreted and recreated in different political and literary contexts. These conceptual tools will clarify the reasons of the original opinions of Demetrius of Scepsis and of Strabo, whose Geography has always had a great impact on the reconstruction of the historical geography of Asia Minor.