Bryn Mawr Classical Review

BMCR 2017.04.11 on the BMCR blog

Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2017.04.11

Peter Pavúk, Troia VI Früh und Mitte: Keramik, Stratigraphie, Chronologie. Studia Troica Monographien, 3.   Bonn:  Dr. Rudolf Habelt, 2014.  Pp. 695.  ISBN 9783774939448.  €109.00.  

Reviewed by Vassilis Petrakis (

This impressive volume is a slightly revised version (14) of Peter Pavúk’s doctoral dissertation submitted at the Eberhard Karls Universität of Tübingen in 2005. It presents in a systematic manner the data obtained (or retrieved) from previous and current research on the site of Hissarlik in Northwest Anatolia (hereafter Troy), under the directorships of Heinrich Schliemann, Wilhelm Dörpfeld, Carl Blegen and Manfred Korfmann, on the phasing and ceramic assemblages of what the author defines as the Early and Middle phases of the Troia VI settlement, a period of undeniable prosperity for the site. Pavúk should be congratulated for a meticulous and masterful synthesis of a highly complex dataset. This can be taken to represent the culmination of the author’s efforts, evident in a string of important publications since 2002, to clarify significant aspects of the site during the earlier part of the Late Bronze Age.1

The volume is divided into ten chapters (of which chapters 9 and 10 are the German and English versions of the conclusions, respectively) preceded by a brief introductory chapter and five appendices. The introduction outlines the main goals of the study, as well as certain technical and terminological clarifications. This clear and concise presentation of the main achievements should be the starting point of every reader. The clarification of the changes to the names of the excavation areas (where Korfmann replaced Dörpfeld’s and Blegen’s J with İ) is also crucial (23). From the outset, it is necessary to refer to the main original contribution of this work:the revised subdivision of Troy VI into four ceramic phases based on material from Areas K8, D8 and K13, as well as Areas A7, A8, KL16/17, D20, H6, x7 and EF10 (Taf. 1 shows their exact locations on the site plan). According to the results of the new analysis of the pottery and stratigraphy, Blegen’s VI Early settlement (comprising his architectural phases VIa, VIb and VIc) can be subdivided into two ceramic phases (the abbreviation throughout the book and hereafter in this review will be KP for “Keramikphase”), numbered 1 and 2. Pavúk’s KP 3 defines Troy VI Middle and corresponds to Blegen’s architectural phases VId, VIe and VIf. On the basis of this new ceramic subdivision, Pavúk has reassigned architectural phase VIf to the Troy VI Middle phase (whereas this was the first architectural phase of the VI Late settlement in Blegen’s scheme).This sequence is followed throughout the volume and projected ontothe analysis of the material from earlier excavations.

The first three chapters offer us a critical historiographyand a revision of the material from earlier excavations assigned to Pavúk’s KP 1-3. Chapter 1 is devoted to such material from Schliemann’s and Dörpfeld’s excavations between 1870 and 1894, focusing on the relevant pottery from Schliemannsammlung in Berlin. Chapter 2 offers a very comprehensive account of the American expedition led by Carl Blegen at Troy during 1932-1938, with special focus on the definition of distinct wares and a systematic shape typology.2 A proper revision of the Troy VI Early-Middle pottery is postponed until Chapters 5 and 6. Chapter 3 presents a comprehensive historiographic overview of studies affecting, either directly or indirectly, our understanding of Troy VI, from the 1950s up to 2012. The material is arranged chronologically, and then thematically, including accounts of developments in Aegean and Anatolian prehistory, as well as broader topics involving both areas, such as the problems surrounding the identification and role of Ahhiyawa in Anatolian affairs (80-81) or the question of the Anatolian Grey Wares (84-85).

Chapters 4 to 8 constitute the core of the book. Chapter 4 offers a very comprehensive discussion of the stratigraphy of Troy VI Early and Middle, exposing the complex depositional history of the site throughout the Bronze Age and dispelling the simple interpretation of ‘missing levels’ as indications of a hiatus (see also Chapter 7, 367-368). The detailed reassessment of specific areas excavated by Blegen is comprehensive and Pavúk is careful to distinguish between primary and secondary deposits. The separate plans showing the architectural remains assigned to each of Blegen’s Troy VI architectural phases (Abb. 55-60, pp. 164-173) are a very special treat. The presentation of the main results of this revision is clear and concise. Special mention must be made of the association of the first appearance of horses at Troy in VI Middle, instead of VI Early (177): the synchronization of this evidence with the foundation of Troy VI had often been associated with the arrival of a new (horse-breeding and horse-harnessing) population (the Homeric epithet /hippodamoi/ applying to the Trojans is often added to strengthen this view), as well as with the arrival of the horse-drawn chariot and its military employment.3 This position will now need to be revised.

Chapters 5 and 6 present the ceramic analysis that forms the backbone of this work. Chapter 5 includes a presentation and discussion of the various ceramic classes, while Chapter 6 focuses on a detailed reassessment of the repertoires of shapes and decorative motifs. Both analyses build and improve on the work of Blegen, Caskey and Rawson while incorporating new material from other sites (cf. the discussion of the scarce imported ceramic material, 208-224). They are entirely refreshing, especially with regard to the so-called Grey Wares (197-203). Once more, the phase-by-phase analytical summaries are invaluable (231-237, 355-359).

Chapter 7 is devoted to issues of relative and absolute chronology. Pavúk focuses on the definition and development of the proposed ceramic phases (KP 1-3 and the beginning of KP 4) and their correspondence to other Aegean and Anatolian sequences (see also Plates 4-5), including a brief but synthetic consideration of the relevant radiocarbon data (catalogued in Appendix V, 563-567).

Chapter 8 includes a very brief assessment (largely in tabular format) of the evidence from the new excavations that took place under Korfmann’s direction between 1988 and 2002. This part may be the basis of the only reasonable complaint about this work: one would have expected a more analytical presentation, especially given how crucial the evidence from the new excavations have been in the stratigraphic analysis that forms the foundations of this new study. One eagerly anticipates the full publication of this material in a forthcoming volume in the same monograph series.

Chapters 9 and 10 are the German and English versions, respectively, of a summary of the main conclusions.This excellent bilingual presentation will enable the immediate communication of the main thrust of the study beyond Germanophone colleagues. The main points are all summarized in a concise manner, with broader issues being tackled as well. The two- pronged attack on the Grey Ware problem from an Aegean and an Anatolian perspective, as well as the thoughtful notes on the difficulties in defining Middle Bronze Age as a coherent slot in Troy (as well as in western Anatolia generally) are obvious highlights. Of the more subtle points, one may single out the very interesting statement that, ceramically, Troy VIIa may be considered “als eine fünfte Keramikphase von Troia VI” (428, 440). That ceramic and architectural periodizations should display such conspicuous differences is one of the major challenges for all macroscopic reconstructions of the Bronze Age at Troy in the near future. Finally, the recognition (made explicitly or implicitly in previous works by Pavúk) that Troy VI has aspects that can be considered both Aegean and Anatolian (438, 448) is, in itself, a major step towards a better understanding of the cultural identity of the Late Bronze Age Troad.

Bibliographic references are complete up to 2008, with only sporadic later additions up to 2012 (see 15, 89-90). Appendices II to V include long but indispensable catalogues of all illustrated material, Early Mycenaean (Late Helladic IIA to IIIA1) pottery recovered from Troy VI Early and Middle levels, as well as pottery thin-sections (illustrated in color plates 99-104) and radiocarbon evidence discussed mainly in Chapter 7.

Appendix I by Luca Girella is of a different kind. It is a highly comprehensive study of an assemblage that proved very significant for the chronology of the Troy V/VI transition. In a small cist grave containing the remains of a 6-year old child, recovered during the 1996 excavations in Square A7 (hence, an intramural burial, assigned to the VIa architectural phase), two items with clear south Aegean associations were found: a Middle Minoan IIIA juglet (of a type similar to the so-called ‘libation jug’ known from many iconographic representations on so-called ‘talismanic’ sealstones and held by ‘Minoan genii’ depicted in relief on a stone triton shell from Malia) and a clay spool. These Aegean or Aegeanizing artefacts were found together with a local amphoriskos. Girella suggests that the juglet (not subjected to provenance analysis) is a Cretan import, although he observes certain atypical features (480-487). Besides an interesting broad synchronization between Middle Minoan IIB/IIIA and the incipient Troy VI Early that can be supported on the strength of this analysis, what is even more remarkable is the indication of even broader connections of Troy with the central and southern Aegean cultures during this phase, also evident in the Helladic influence upon KP 1 Grey Wares (493).

The quality of the illustrations accompanying the analysis deserves special praise. Readers should be grateful for the abundance of color images, including a good proportion of the 116 in-text figures, as well as plates 99-119.These complement most effectively the account of the stratigraphy and the description of wares.

Overall, one may look in awe at the quantity and quality of scholarly work invested in this massive reanalysis of such an important material. Pavúk, standing on the shoulders of Schliemann, Dörpfeld, Blegen, Caskey, Rawson and Korfmann, together with the many hard-working colleagues of the current Troy team, has managed to bring a strong blow (rather than a mere breath) of fresh air into our understanding of a crucial point in the development of the settlement.


1.  “The Blegen Pottery Shapes: toward a typology”Studia Troica 12 (2002), 35-71; “New perspectives in Troia VI chronology” in M. Bietak, E. Czerny (eds.) The Synchronization of Civilizations in the Eastern Mediterranean in the Second Millennium BC, volume III, Wien 2007, 473-478; “Pottery processing at Troy: typology, stratigraphy and correspondence analysis. How do they work together?” in B. Horejs et al. (eds.) Analyzing Pottery: Processing, Classification, Publication, Bratislava 2010, 73-98; “Minyan or not. The second millennium Grey Ware in Western Anatolia and its relation to Mainland Greece” in A. Touchais et al.Mesohelladika. The Greek Mainland in the Middle Bronze Age, Athens 2010, 931-943.
2.   C.W. Blegen, J. Caskey and M. Rawson Troy III. The Sixth Settlement, Princeton 1953.
3.   E.g. R. Drews Early Riders: The Beginnings of Mounted Warfare in Asia and Europe, New York 2004, 47-48; also idem. The Coming of the Greeks: Indo-European conquests in the Aegean and the Near East, Princeton 1987, 81-82, 94.

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