Project Troia 
Institut für Ur- und Frühgeschichte und Archäologie des Mittelalters, 
Universität Tübingen, DEU
Department of Classics, University of Cincinnati, USA
Controversy over Late Bronze Age Troia (Troia VI and VII)
Summary of main issues July through November 2001
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Imprint

     Shortly after the opening of the second station of the most successful Troia-Exhibition : "Troia - Dream and Reality" at Braunschweig on July 14, 2001 a series of newspaper interviews by  Dr.Frank Kolb (Professor of Ancient History at the University of Tübingen) caused a strong response in the media. In short, Prof. Kolb charges his Tübingen colleague, Prof.Dr.Manfred Korfmann, the director of the Troia-Project and scientific advisor for the organization of the exhibition, with deliberate misleading of the public in the presentation and interpretation of his archaeological results concerning Late Bronze Age Troia (Troia VI / VII ). 

     The most unusual manner in which scientific differences of opinion are made public in this case by choosing the avenue of interviews with all its potential traps rather than selecting the usual und reasonable way of an academic forum has prompted us to try a comprehensive view of the charges and to provide a quotable response by Prof.Korfmann. The situation is compounded by the summer recess of the universities and the absence of the the team while on campaign in Troia. 

      In the weeks following Kolb´s starting interview ("Traumgebilde", Berliner Morgenpost, July 17, 2001) such a vast number of articles about the controversy appeared in German regional and national papers and magazines that no attempt can be made to provide complete English translations. For most of the material the interested reader has to refer to the list of articles provided in the pressreview on our German page (most of the articles are available full-text in the online-editions of the publications). Since the discussion entered also into the English press (R.Boyes: "Is this truly Homers Troy?" in THE TIMES, Aug.17,2001) we offer, however, an English version at least of the main arguments on both sides.

     As the public discussion went on the debate extended beyond the starting issue of interpretation of mere archaeological findings.  Issues raised in the dispute are: Was Troia VI / VII an important center of political power and trade in the second half of the 2nd millenium BC or an unimportant small residence ? Is Troia VI / VII identical with the Hittite vassal princedom of Wilusa ? Is Homer´s Iliad an epic strictly based on the background of the eighth century BC or does it contain roots leading into the Mycenean era ? Some of these questions have been discussed for decades but are being revisited in light of the research results in various disciplines that were initiated by the new Troia excavations. 

     The University of Tübingen took initiative to organize a public debate of the issues in a symposium : "The Importance of Troia in the Late Bronze Age" on February 15 / 16, 2002 at the University in an effort to finish the media hype with a return into the appropriate academic arena. ( Prof. Korfmann had agreed to this debate after Prof. Kolb had revoked the strong language that constituted an insult to Korfmann´s scientific reputation.) For the program and a summary review please refer to the German page "symposium" (Sorry, there is no English version available, because the controversy remains mainly confined to the German speaking media. As an exception we are aware of two commentaries on the symposium in "The Times" of February 25, 2002 by Ph.Howard and N.Hammond. "The Times" on March 2 also published two subsequent letters to the editor by D.Easton and A.Sherratt). 

    For information about the controversy the following English versions of articles and interviews are available:

   Summary of Prof.F.Kolb´s charges (from the various interviews)

   Initial Response by Prof.M.Korfmann and Prof.Ch.B.Rose (July 27, 2001)
           Recent terrestrial photographs of the disputed lower city Troia VI / VII 
           Recent aerial photographs of the same

    Letters to the Editor of "THE TIMES"  by two English scholars (August 20, 2001)

    "Winning Helen - myth, history or invention?" by Uwe Walter in "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung - English Edition" (July 26, 2001)

    Interview by Dr.Sigrid Löffler with Prof.Korfmann in the journal : "Literaturen" (Oct.2001) " I take Homer the way I take Edgar Wallace"

    "Wilusa (Wilios/Troia) - Center of a Hittite Confederate in Northwest Asia Minor" updated version of an essay by Prof. J.Latacz (Nov.21, 2001) 
    Editor´s note: The essay without figures is stored in PDF-format (180 KB). Reading will require Acrobat Reader as plug-in. The version with figures has 560 KB.

     It is the strong intention of the two main persons under attack, Prof.M.Korfmann and Prof.J.Latacz, to close the media debate with their statements cited and available above. Until the Tübingen-Debate in February 2002 they intend to return to more productive tasks. Representatives of the media are urged to respect this intention.
 

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Tübingen editor: Hans G. Jansen (email: hans.jansen@uni-tuebingen.de)
Cincinnati editor: John Wallrodt (email: john.wallrodt@classics.uc.edu)

Date Last Modified: 17/Mar/02
By: HGJ