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.
is Troia (Troy) located ?
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.
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)
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.
then is the aim of the present excavations at 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.
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.
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 ?
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.
was the importance of Troia in the past ?
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 19.th 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.
importance has Troia for today´s archaeology ?
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.
the Trojan Horse really exist ?
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.
the Greeks in the position to muster a fleet of more than 1000 ships to
carry on a war of conquest against Troia ?
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.
Could a siege of Troia really have lasted for ten years ?
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.
Did Homer really live?
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.
the Trojans a Greek tribe ?
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.
is the correct spelling of "Troia" ?
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 )
the excavations in Troia continuing ?
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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