Even after many years of digging, Troy remains full of surprises. No wonder each season the ancient mound attracts scientists working in many disciplines all over the world.
Fifty years elapsed after University of Cincinnati archaeologist Carl Blegen’s seventh season, in 1938, before Troy was once again investigated by archaeologists. In 1988, the Turkish government offered University of Tübingen archaeologist Manfred Korfmann a license to excavate Troy; Korfmann has since directed excavations of the site, in conjunction with archaeologists from the University of Cincinnati.a
The Cincinnati team, led by C. Brian Rose, specializes in the post-Bronze Age (the Greek, Roman and Byzantine periods), and the Tübingen scientists are responsible for the Bronze Age and earlier. Both groups conduct archaeological research differently from how it was done in the past. To Korfmann and his colleagues, the investigation of the ancient world is not about finding spectacular objects or evidence for the war that Homer wrote about. Rather, they aim at a “thick” description of the history of the city and its environs; that is, they seek to reveal, as completely as possible, all the material evidence that bears on life in Troy over its several-thousand-year history. And they work to understand the role Troy played in binding together continents and cultures.
Every summer, as many as 95 scientists come to Troy. They are not only classical and Bronze Age archaeologists but anthropologists, architects, botanists, zoologists, chemists, geologists, soil scientists, geographers, meteorologists, numismatists, philologists, physicists and restorers—not to forget the computer experts, surveyors, scientific illustrators, film producers and photographers. Stones and bones as well as hundreds of thousands of sherds are registered every summer with specially designed computer programs. In addition, throughout the year scientists undertake geochemical and mineralogical analyses to determine, for example, where metals have been mined or where pottery samples originated. Other scientists apply themselves to the important work of dating the finds; dendrochronologists date objects and events through comparative studies of growth rings and aged wood, and physicists perform carbon 14 tests on organic matter. With more than 150 dates established by radiocarbon samples, Troy has regained its leading role in Aegean chronology.
Troy is not only an interdisciplinary project; it is also an international one. About a third of the scientists are Turkish, but sometimes scientists representing as many as 13 nationalities gather together in the excavation camp. This allows for exchanges not only of archaeological information but also of cultural knowledge—certainly in keeping with the Bronze Age city of Troy.