Aegeus Society For Aegean Prehistory


2 January 2013

Troy pottery holds a key to the great Bronze Age collapse

Past Horizons, 20-12-2012

The Bronze Age city at Hisarlik – Troy (phases VI, VIIa) – in north-west Turkey, now so closely associated with Homer’s Illiad, was destroyed by conflict about 3200 years ago and straddles this period of collapse, fitting into the new geo-political landscape. The site known as Troy lies in north-west Turkey and has been studied for decades. Part of these investigations looked at the style of pottery made before the conflict which was recognisably Trojan but after the destruction of the city had changed to a style more typical of the Balkan region. This difference in style typology led archaeologists to believe that the local people had been forced out and replaced by external populations from the north.

But when Peter Grave at the University of New England in Armidale, Australia, and his colleagues examined the chemical profile of the pottery using sophisticated PXRF they put forward a different explanation, which favours in-situ cultural transformation. Archaeologically, the Early Iron Age (EIA) remains at Troy include new building techniques including multi-cell structures, changes in settlement layout, and the addition of new styles of handmade ceramics such as Handmade Burnished Ware and  Knobbed Ware.  However the team realised that both pre and post-conflict ceramic artefacts contained clay from exactly the same local sources leading to the conclusion that enough people remained in the area to continue their own cultural traditions while being receptive to Balkan culture.

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