German exhibit provides new glimpse of ancient Troy
- x0x German exhibit provides new glimpse of ancient Troy
* "Troy: Myth and Reality" draws on work by the German archaeologist
Manfred Korfmann and historians of Asia Minor. It presents a Troy
that is not merely a fortified city grounded in Greek
civilization, but a flourishing trade center that was integral to
the earlier Hittite culture in ancient Turkey
* The exhibition presents 850 objects, including ceramic vases,
amphorae, bowls and cups, which point to a highly developed
domestic culture. Most have never before been seen outside Turkish
Katharine A. Schmidt
Stuttgart - The Associated Press
An exhibit featuring new archaeological artifacts from ancient Troy
and treasures from Turkish museums assembles new evidence that the
city flourished a thousand years earlier than previously believed.
"Troy: Myth and Reality" draws on work by the German archaeologist
Manfred Korfmann and historians of Asia Minor. It presents a Troy that
is not merely a fortified city grounded in Greek civilization, but a
flourishing trade center that was integral to the earlier Hittite
culture in ancient Turkey. The Hittites were a patriarchal, highly
agricultural people who ruled over much of the eastern and central
parts of the Anatolian Peninsula during the second millennium BC.
The show, which runs through June 17 at Stuttgart's Landesbank Forum,
also examines Troy as a theme in European culture as exemplified by
busts of Homer, Roman coins from the time of Julius Caesar and
paintings like Pieter Schoubroeck's "Burning of Troy."
Writers and artists throughout history have been fascinated with Troy
and the legends around it, such as Achilles being killed by an arrow
to his heel, the only spot on his body not protected by immersion in a
magic potion. The city was most famously the subject of the Homer's
epic poem, "Iliad."
Visitors follow the story of Troy's destruction by the Greeks on Greek
vases, in medieval paintings and a 13th-century Ottoman manuscript.
Its influence is traced right up to a cartoon depicting Trojan horses
at the Berlin Wall.
"To my knowledge, there has never been such an appreciation of Troy,"
said Korfmann, an archaeology professor at Tuebingen University.
A five-story Trojan horse greets visitors outside the exhibition,
recalling the episode in the "Iliad" where Greek soldiers emerge to
sack Troy from the belly of a giant horse that was thought to be a
gift. The modern version has space for 30 people inside.
Inside, the exhibition presents 850 objects, including ceramic vases,
amphorae, bowls and cups, which point to a highly developed domestic
culture. Most have never before been seen outside Turkish museums.
About 300 objects never displayed before were excavated by teams
working under Korfmann since 1988.
Korfmann drew upon the work of 19th-century German archaeologist
Heinrich Schliemann, who began his 12-year excavations in 1870, and,
after copiously surveying the land, first declared a hilltop in
western Turkey to be the site of the ancient Troy. It lies near the
entrance to the Dardanelles, the gateway from the Mediterranean Sea to
In a letter shown in the exhibit, Schliemann tells of finding the
Treasure of Priam, a Trojan king who had amassed a large collection of
gold, silver and copper. That find, which included two gold crowns,
copper plates and nearly 9000 gold pieces, was seized by the Soviet
government after World War II.
Many researchers did not believe Schliemann had excavated the Troy of
myth because the city seemed too small. But Korfmann found indications
in Schliemann's work that the city was actually larger and used modern
technology to reveal outlines of ancient buildings and streets under
Korfmann's teams extended the area of the ancient fortress settlement
15-fold to a flourishing trade center covering 30 hectares, with 5,000
to 10,000 inhabitants.
That city, which flourished from 1700 to 1200 B.C., would have been
the Troy described in the "Iliad," which was written about 700 B.C.
Troy was destroyed in an earthquake 1200, rebuilt and then within a
few hundred years again destroyed in a war.
In the exhibition catalog, Korfmann says his excavations reveal key
features that correspond with Homer's description of Troy - walls,
towers and temple sites.
Language experts report that their examination of Hittite texts shows
that two different names given by Greeks and Hittites to the location
refer to the same city - Troy - and that there were conflicts between
the Hittite king and ancient Greeks that Homer called Achaeans.
"We know there were conflicts around 1300 B.C.," said Joachim Latacz,
an expert in ancient languages who contributed to the catalog. "In
that regard, what Homer wrote was no fantasy."
The exhibit will travel to the German cities of Braunschweig and Bonn.
Korfmann said he hopes much of it will once be displayed at a museum
planned for the site in Turkey.
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