DARDANELLES (CANAKKALE BOSPHORUS)-Gallipoli & Troy

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DARDANEL (CANAKKALE BOSPHORUS)

DARDANEL: It is narrow strait in northwestern of Turkey connecting the Aegean Sea to the Sea of Marmara. It has been one of the Turkish straits which is located in Canakkale province of Turkey. It is 61kms (38miles) long and 1.2 to 6kms wide, averaging from 180ft (55metres) depth to 338ft (103metres) max depth. Dardanel flows in both directions along the strait from Aegean Sea to Marmara via an undercurrent and in the opposite direction via surface current. It separates Europe (Gallipoli Peninsula) from the mainland of Turkey (Anatolia where is the beginning of Asia), like Istanbul Bosporus. Dardanelles with the Sea of Marmara and Istanbul Bosporus together is the international waterway in Turkey lands which connects the Black Sea to Mediterranean Sea.

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Canakkale is the name of the major city adjoining the strait today. So it has been called as Canakkale Bosporus today. But the name of Dardanelles comes from Dardanus which was an ancient city on the Asian shore of the strait had been founded by Dardanus who was the son of Zeus and Electra in Greek Mythology.

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The strait has always played very important strategic role in history. The Dardanelles Strait has been so unique in many respects and it is considered one of the most crowded, difficult and potentially important waterway in the world.

During the Hellenistic Period, the Ancient city of Troy had already been located by the western entrance of Dardanelles Strait and Asian shore of the strait had been the focus of the Trojan War. Troy was able to control the traffic in this waterway. So the Persian army and later Macedonian Army of Alexander the Great had crossed the Dardanelles in opposite directions to conquer each other’s lands during the 480BC and 334BC.
Troy has been very well-known ancient city with its history and legend. It was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage in 1998. It had been settled just by southwest end of Dardanelles in northwest of Anatolia (Asia Minor) in which is now Turkey. Also had been settled on northwest of Mount Ida. Troy has been very best known and famous for being setting of the Trojan War described especially in the Iliad. It had flourished and was very important port through the Black Sea till the foundation of Constantinople but declined during the Byzantine period.

Schilemann had excavated some parts of Troy ancient city till reaching the Treasury of Troy. Schliemann had claimed the area to be ancient Troy and declared that the treasury belonged to Homeric king Priam. That assignment has been thought that it is the result of Schileman’s zeal to explore Troy and objects mentioned in Homeric epics. The layer in where Treasure had been alleged to be found had been assigned to Troy II.

The Homeric legend of Troy had been elaborated by the Roman poet Virgil. The Romans and Greeks had taken for a fact the historicity of the Trojan War and the Homeric Troy with the site in Asia Minor (Anatolia). Alexander the Great had visited the site in 334 BC.

World War I – Gallipoli Campaign

The western Allies had sent a huge invasion force of British, Australian, New Zealander, Indian and Newfoundland troops to attempt to get the control the straits through the Black Sea in 1915. Turkish (Ottoman Empire) troops had trapped the Allies on the beaches of the Gallipoli peninsula. The results of campaign had damaged to the career of W. Churchill and also First Lord of Admiralty who had passionately promoted the use of Royal Navy as the sea power to get the control of the straits. Mustafa Kemal Ataturk who was the later founder of Turkey was a commander for the Turkish troops during the battle.

The straits had been all mined by the Turks to stop Allied ships from getting into straits. But, one British and one Australian submarine had succeeded in penetrating the mine fields. But they were sunk by Turkish Warship. Mediterranean Expeditionary Force of Sir Ian Hamilton was unsuccessful in its attempt to conquer the Gallipoli Peninsula and its withdrawal had been ordered in January of 1916. After 10 months fighting, total Allied deaths had reached to 43.000 British, 15.000 French, 8.700 Australians, 2.700 New Zealanders and 1.370 Indians. On another side, Total Turkish Deaths were around 60.000.

Dardanelle strait was demilitarized and made international waters under the control of the League of Nations according the Treaty of Sevres in 1920 after the war. This had been redesigned after the Greek-Turkish War (1919-1922) and straits had given back to Turkey under the 1923 Lausanne Treaty. But all foreign warships were allowed to traverse the straits freely. Turkish Government had rejected the terms of Lausanne Treaty and had remilitarized the straits again. In July of 1936,the reversion to old regime had been formalized under the Montreux Convention which has been technically in force till present days. The straits are open to international shipping lane, but Turkey has still been retaining the right to restrict to naval traffic of non-Black Sea nations such as Greece or Algeria.

During the World War II, Turkey closed the straits to the warships of belligerent nations till the February of 1945 and had declared the war in Germany. But Turkey had become neutral for most of the length of the conflict and it did not employ any offensive forces during the war.

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