History Of Research

History Of Research

The successful businessman Heinrich Schliemann, after long perusal of the found himself fully convinced that the Troy (W)Ilios of Homer lay beneath the Roman settlement visible on the 150x200 m -mound of Hisarlık(= fortified mound) just south of the straits of the Dardanelles (the Hellespont) on a limestone tableland between the rivers of the Scamander (Kara Menderes) and the Simoeis(Dümrek), only 4.5 km from the Dardanelles and six kilometers from the Aegean Coast, therefore in a most strategic position. Frank Calvert, who had taken up residence in the area, had already concluded that Hisarlık was a settlement mound representing many centuries of deposit; he had even opened some small sondages (1863-1865) with the conviction that the Troy celebrated by Homer lay here.

The First to Ninth Campaigns

From 1871 to 1894 (following preliminary sondages in 1870) the first nine excavation campaigns took place with magnanimous effort. Schliemann, who invested large sums from his private estate to the cause, remained in charge until 1890; he immediately pronounced Troy II, where he believed he had found the "Treasure of Priam", the Troy of the Iliad. After Schliemann's decease, the architect Wilhelm Dörpfeld, his assistant and architect for the project, continued in 1893 and 1894. It was Dörpfeld who exposed the impressive fortifications of Troy VI, which he then interpreted as "the Homeric Troy."

Schliemann was an individual with many interests, "possessed" by some of them, and his relationships with others, as well as with his finds—the "Treasure" in particular—has led to various condemnations. Looking back today, we may justify some of this criticism, for it appears that he was on one hand a dedicated scholar, but on the other a "treasure-seeker" who illicitly spirited valuable finds out of the country.

These early campaigns represent the first step into a "Newland" of methodical archaeological excavation. We should thus be neither too surprised nor too critical of some significant contexts that were inadvertently overlooked and lost. During his work in Troy Schliemann quickly learned to separate individual strata and distinguish diagnostic forms among the pottery so richly represented in them. Truly cooperating with him in deed as well as word were the Consul Frank Calvert (scholar and collector), Rudolph Virchow (pathologist, anthropologist and prehistorian), and Wilhelm Dörpfeld (architect).

The successive building levels were numbered I–IX from the lowest upward; for this perceptive division we must thank the careful observation of Dörpfeld. Even in these early days, a fair share of scientific scholarship was introduced—and a fine example for future archaeologists was also set by a thorough survey of the surroundings during these early campaigns at Hisarlık. Trenches were opened at Pasha Tepe, Beşik-Sivritepe and other tumuli (burial mounds), as well as soundings at the settlement mounds of Hanay Tepe and Karaağaç Tepe.

The excavations at Troy awakened a new enthusiasm for archaeological "digs" in the public eye, and the experience gained in the Schliemann Excavations opened the way for true discipline in archaeological fieldwork. Even today the results of these early campaigns remain the basis for continuing work at the site as well as a keystone for other excavations, particularly those in northwestern Turkey and the bordering regions.

The majority of the finds from the first nine campaigns were distributed among the Museums of Istanbul, Athens, and Berlin. For educational purposes, close "twins" among the more than 10,000 objects were taken to Berlin were then distributed among museums and university collections throughout Europe. The most outstanding pieces from Berlin were taken to Moscow and St. Petersburg during World War II; many of those remaining, of course, were lost or damaged in the war (ca. 50%). Today, finds from these early campaigns are spread over some 50 museums and collections worldwide.

In 1924, small-scale excavations in the area of Beşik Bay were undertaken by Wilhelm Dörpfeld, Oscar Mey and Martin Schede. There on the coastline, today silted up, lay the Aegean harbor of Troy. Investigated as well were the neighboring tumuli of Üvecik Tepe and Beşik-Sivritepe.

The Tenth to Sixteenth Campaigns

These next seven campaigns at Troy took place between 1932 and 1938 under the leadership of Carl W. Blegen and the University of Cincinnati (USA). With improved excavation techniques and methods, the team was able to subdivide the phases into a total of 46 building levels. Blegen identified Level VII a (now reevaluated as Level VI i) with the city of the Trojan War. During these campaigns as well, investigation in the surroundings continued (including excavation at Kumtepe undertaken in cooperation with Hâmit Zübeyr Koşay, as well as at Karajur Tepe, Ballı Dağ, and Eski Hisarlık).

The finds from these seven campaigns are housed in the Archaeological Museums of Istanbul and Çanakkale.

Following a year of survey (1981) in the area, from 1982 to 1987,excavation in the north of the now silted-up Beşik Bay were undertaken under Manfred Korfmann (Tübingen University). Investigated during these annual campaigns were the sites of Beşik-Sivritepe, Beşik-Yassıtepe and a cemetery discovered on the shores of the former bay.

Seventeenth Campaigns

After a break of 50 years, excavation at Troy was renewed in 1988 by an international team of Turks, Germans, and Americans coordinated by Manfred Korfmann. Each and every summer further "digging" has taken place; therefore many finds included here represent our most recent discoveries (reported annually in the journal Studia Troica). Most of the evidence from classical antiquity (the Greek and Roman periods) has been brought to light and evaluated by C. Brian Rose from the University of Cincinnati. Up to 2004 nearly 400 scholars and technicians from 20 different countries participated (supported by some 50-100 local staff as well). We are faced, therefore, with an immense quantity of finds to evaluate and publish. The number of scholarly publications produced by our participants (as of 2004) has been most impressive, totaling around 180 articles representing ca. 6000 pages of text.

After the death of Manfred Korfmannin 2005, Tübingen University continued the excavations with the same team under the direction of Ernst Pernicka and Peter Jablonka from Tübingen University .

New Excavation Campaigns

After the 2012, Çanakkale 18 Mart University continues the excavations with the new team under the direction of Rüstem Aslan from Çanakkale 18 Mart University.