Rebranding Troy?

Okay … this one has me confused. From New Scientist comes the ‘rebranding’ spin:

EVEN ancient cities knew about rebranding. Troy was destroyed by war about 3200 years ago – an event that may have inspired Homer to write the Iliad, 400 years later. But the famous city rose again, reinventing itself to fit a new political landscape.

Troy lies in north-west Turkey and has been studied for decades. Pottery made before the war has a distinct Trojan style but after the war its style is typical of the Balkans. This led archaeologists to believe that the locals had been forced out and replaced by populations from overseas.

But when Peter Grave at the University of New England in Armidale, Australia, and his colleagues examined the chemical make-up of the pottery, they realised that both pre and post-war objects contained clay from exactly the same local sources, suggesting the same people were making the pots.

“There is substantial evidence for cultural continuity,” says Grave. So if the Trojans never left the city, why did their pottery style change?

Before the sack of Troy, the city looked east towards the powerful Hittite Empire. But this political powerhouse collapsed around the time that Troy was destroyed. Grave says the post-war pottery is Balkan in style because the Trojans were keen to align themselves with the people there, who had become the new political elite in the region.

The abstract for the very expensive article itself reads:

Changes in resource use over time can provide insight into technological choice and the extent of long term stability in cultural practices. In this paper we re-evaluate the evidence for a marked demographic shift at the inception of the Early Iron Age at Troy by applying a robust macroscale analysis of changing ceramic resource use over the Late Bronze and Iron Age. We use a combination of new and legacy analytical datasets (NAA and XRF), from excavated ceramics, to evaluate the potential compositional range of local resources (based on comparisons with sediments from within a 10 kilometer site radius). Results show a clear distinction between sediment-defined local and non-local ceramic compositional groups. Two discrete local ceramic resources have been previously identified and we confirm a third local resource for a major class of EIA handmade wares and cooking pots. This third source appears to derive from a residual resource on the Troy peninsula (rather than adjacent alluvial valleys). The presence of a group of large and heavy pithoi among the non-local groups raises questions about their regional or maritime origin.

Without having read the article, does this not seem to be reading an awful lot into things? If a new group moves into an area, do we not expect them to make use of available resources? Why should be expect a change in the fabric of the pots?

Classical Words of the Day


This Day in Ancient History: ante diem xiv kalendas januarias

ante diem xiv kalendas januarias

  • Saturnalia (day 3) – major, popular festival in honour of Saturn with banquets, the wearing of soft caps (pilei), and general good cheer. Shops and schools were closed, gambling was legally permitted, gifts were exchanged and masters might even wait on their servants. Obviously this festival is often seen as a precursor to our modern-day Christmas celebrations.
  • Opalia — unknown rituals in honour of Ops, the wife of Saturn
  • rites in honour of Juventas (= Hebe?) — a somewhat mysterious festival, probably connected to Roman ‘coming of age’ rituals
  • 69 A.D. — a major fire on the Capitoline hill in Rome, caused by Vitellius‘ troops
  • 307 A.D. — martyrdom of Nemesius of Alexandria and Thea