Project Troia
Institut für Ur- und Frühgeschichte und Archäologie des Mittelalters, Universität Tübingen, DEU
Department of Classics, University of Cincinnati, USA
Answers to frequently asked Questions about Troia (FAQ).

    SYMPOSIUM 2002


This separate page of short Questions and Answers should serve as a quick information for the general interested public. For more detailed information please refer to the detailed review of recent publications in the media or the interesting books:

 - J.Latacz: "Troia and Homer. Towards a Solution of an Old Mystery.", Oxford University Press 2004, (English translation of an updated version of "Troia und Homer").
 - B.Brandau, H.Schickert, P.Jablonka : " Troia - wie es wirklich aussah", 2004, Piper.

1.Question: Where is Troia (Troy) located ?
Answer: Troia is located in the northwest of the Asiatic part of Turkey (Asia Minor) near the village of Tevfikiye in the Province Canakkale on the Straits of the Dardanelles.The excavation site lies at the edge of a 35m high plateau with a steep slope to the alluvial planes of the rivers Karamenderes (Scamander) and Dümrek Cay (Simoeis). Today the coast at the mouth of the Dardanelles is c. 6 km away from Troia. In the Bronze Age, however, a bay reached close to the foot of the hill. Troia lies c.5 km west of the main road from Istanbul to Izmir, about half way between these major cities and their airports.

2.Question: Did the Trojan War take place? Myth or historic reality ?
Answer: This dispute occupies the science of ancient history for more than the last two centuries. Modern research is of the majority opinion that there is a certain historical kernel in the background of the story, however fuzzy it may be. The Iliad which took the shape known to us at around 700 B.C.apparently occasionally refers to situations existing in the Late Bronze Age. With respect to the place itself there are many reasons to emphasize its importance. Alone the fact that archaeology has found it at the spot later identified by Greek and Roman tradition is a strong argument. Furthermore archaeology has found indeed buildings dated to the 13th c.B.C.that fit to the happenings in the background of the Troia-Story. Additional arguments result from the size of the site which differs considerably from other sites in the wide environs and its topographically extremely favorable location. 

Prof. Joachim Latacz, one of the foremost Homer-linguists from the University of Basel offers the following remark in his book: `Homer. Der erste Dichter des Abendlandes´: "For the estimation of the Iliad as a work of art the historicity or the fictivity of its alleged starting events is irrelevant. The Iliad would remain a literary masterpiece even if the Trojan War never had happened." (Unauthorized translation from the German original)

3.Question: If this war had happened, could it be archaeologically proven ?
Answer: As archaeologists we do not search for the Trojan war, although this alleged purpose for our excavation project of 16 active years has been insinuated time and again by outsiders. We can only say that there were many wars in and about this city. In the course of centuries and millenia there were always good reasons to protect herself and obviously it was a place with enough resolution and the means to renovate and enlarge the defense walls. If we realize an extended fire-horizon from the time after 1200 B.C. and traces of a violent conflict this does not tell us the severity, the duration, or the opponents of a potential war.

4.Question: What then is the aim of the present excavations at Troia ?
Answer: Troia has an important role as link between the history of settlement in Anatolia and the Balkans (see questions 7 and 8). The modern method of radiocarbon-dating is indispensible for an exact chronology. This method, however, was not yet available for the earlier researchers Schliemann, Dörpfeld and Blegen. This important updating of our knowledge we have performed successfully and comprehensively. Another wide range aim above the  development of the immediate environment is to gain insight into the development of ecology and climate in the coastal region and the lower Scamander, in short the area we call the Troad. To this end we have successfully practized the inclusion of many scientific disciplines. Thus the project is an important member of a science compound aiming at a reconstruction of the Aegean/Anatolian Bronze Age history. 

5.Question: How large was Troia ?
Answer: From the onset of the excavations more than 130 years ago it had been supposed that the significant bronze age settlement phases had reached much beyond the defensive wall structures detected in their centre. The actual proof of this assumption, however, was not undertaken. In consequence a systematic search for the so-called lower settlements or lower cities constituted an important goal of the new excavation series started in 1988. This research is being funded and evaluated since many years by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft. A combination of topographic considerations, detailed analysis of the distribution of surface finds, geophysical methods of prospection and specific soundings provided a detailed picture which presently is subject of several scientific publications in preparation. Specifically for the important lower city of the late bronze age (Troia VI / VII) a total settlement area between 250 000 and 300 000 m² was ascertained (as compared to little more than 20 000 m² for the fortified centre, the so-called citadel). Considering the nourishment potential of the surrounding area of the Troad we estimate a possible population of 5000 or above. 

6.Question: In course of the excavations no find gave a clue to the prehistoric name of Troia. How do we know the name of the place ?
Answer:  For the hellenistic Greeks and the Romans there was no doubt that this was the place of the holy Ilios of Homer, who also used Troia as a second name. Many scholars of ancient Greek and most Hittitologists agree that the bronze age naming can be tied to the positioning of the Hittite Wilusa at the same place in the northwest of Turkey. Wilusa was a princedom, which in the 14 th and 13 th c.BC existed as a vassal of the Hittite Great Kingdom. This circumstance elucidates from a clay tablet found in the royal archive in the capital Hattusa (Alaksandu-Treaty). Hittite Wilusa corresponds by sound shift to the Greek (W)ilios. For the Greek name of Troia there exists a highly probable correspondence with Hittite Taru(w)isa, the name for a region associated with the same area as Wilusa. 

7.Question: What was the importance of Troia in the past ?
Answer: Troia was located at the periphery of the advanced civilizations (Hochkulturen) of the 3rd and 2nd millennium BC. Locations at the periphery can have a relatively big importance because the centers of civilization need for their development the transfer of ideas and goods through the peripheries. Troia for sure was not the hub of the universe but had an important function at the periphery. We think of the important flow of supply of metals (copper, tin) but also of other products like amber or carnelian that reached the eastern Mediterranean from outside. One might compare Troia´s function with that of Gibraltar or with the colonies of the c., that opened markets and doors in other worlds. For Troia, located at the straits, this would have been the Balcans and the Black Sea region. 

8.Question: Which importance has Troia for today´s archaeology ?
Answer: For prehistoric archaeology the place is important, because we can unfold the course of time
like in a layer cake by virtually cutting through it. Settlement layer after settlement layer can be accessed here at an important spot between Asia and Europe and between Mediterranean and Black Sea through an almost uninterrupted period of 3500 years. 

9.Question: Did the Trojan Horse really exist ?
Answer:  No, at least not as it was imagined by Homer in an intriguing and impressive fashion. But this legend already in antiquity was understood as a fairy tale from far gone times, even though people loved it as the trick of Odysseus.

10.Question: Were the Greeks in the position to muster a fleet of more than 1000 ships to carry on a war of conquest against Troia ?
Answer: No. The widely spread seats of power of the Mycenean Greeks with a high degree of probability would not have had the potential for such a navy in late bronze age. Moreover the supposed armed conflict falls in a period when the palatial centers were no longer at the height of their power.

11.Question: Could a siege of Troia really have lasted for ten years ?
Answer: During the bronze age (c. 3000 to 1000 BC) the various sequential settlements of the Trojans always were well fortified with large towers, strong gates and walls of limestone. The place must have been difficult to conquer. A prehistoric siege probably would have had to last quite long. One should, however, regard the number ten as a poetic elevation, a rounded figure standing for a long period of time.

12.Question: Did Homer really live?
Answer: This is a much disputed question. Homer is said to have been a blind poet from Ionia, perhaps from Smyrna (Izmir) or the isle of Chios, who combined the tales of travelling bards to the stotry of the Iliad around 700 BC. This resulted in the Greek national epic of antiquity, which derived its importance not from the old stories but from contemporary relations. 

13.Question: Were the Trojans a Greek tribe ?
Answer: Without written traditions the assignment to ethnical groups is very difficult. For a statistically significant anthropological analysis the number of skeletal finds from Troia is much too small. Spatial comparisons of the relicts of civilization (architecture, ceramic) can be used only in a limited way for ethnical associations because they may be dominated by the trends of a more mobile upper class (not all "migrations of people" are relocations of a complete population). This leaves  the results of comparative linguistics. These associate the inhabitants of the Troad with the Luwian language family, which lived in the west of Asia Minor as Indoeuropean relatives of the Hittites. The Mycenean Greeks belonged to another branch of this family. 

14.Question: What is the correct spelling of "Troia" ?
Answer: The spelling "Troia" goes back to the ancient Greek and is used throughout the German archaeological research (e.g. in "Der Neue Pauly", the standard reference), with the derivatives: "Troianer" and "troianisch". The standard German spelling books use the spelling "Troja", "Trojaner" and "trojanisch", which originated in the 19th c. In the English literature "Troy" and "Trojan" are used  exclusively. (See also the commentary in the book by J.Latacz mentioned above : " Troy and Homer", Oxford University Press 2004, p 288, note 2 ) 

15.Question: Are the excavations in Troia continuing ?
Answer:  Following the longterm planning after almost twenty years of excavation the predominant task is now pursued to produce a comprehensive publication of the scientific results. Furthermore the adequate conservation and presentation of the world cultural heritage Troia requires financial means and expert competence. Archaeologically Troia still poses many unanswered questions, such as the location of the bronze age cemeteries and the detailed settlement structure of the bronze age lower city. Financial means permitting these questions will actively pursued in parallel.

This list will amended according to requirements.

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Tübingen editor: Hans G. Jansen (email: Date Last Modified: 27/April/07 By: HGJ