The Foundation’s Main Topics



The fact that research had turned toward Minoan and Mycenaean civilizations, while largely overlooking the Luwian culture in western Asia Minor, is partly due to the emergence of philhellenism in the 19th century. This distortion, among other things, is responsible for the fact that riddles still persist concerning the end of the Bronze Age. Systematic research could disclose the degree of influence that Luwians actually had on Western civilizations.

Medieval and modern times

Following the conquest of Constantinople in 1453, the admiration for all things Trojan over the previous thousand years gradually changed into a virtual rejection, because Troy was after all located on the territory of present-day Turkey and thus outside Europe. Philhellenism and a general disapproval of Turkey were still manifest in 1920, when the excavator of Knossos decided to exclude Troy and its surroundings from research in Aegean prehistory. Luwian Studies would like to close this research gap calling attention to the Luwian culture, located on the eastern shore of the Aegean Sea, as an Asian counterpart to the Minoan and Mycenaean civilizations. We have systematically recorded 340 for the most part uninvestigated settlements in western Turkey, dating back to the 2nd millennium BCE, where traces of the Luwians have been preserved.

Convergence of historical sources

Since the texts from antiquity provide information that partly contradicts the way philhellenes of the 19th century aimed to interpret history, philologists around 1820 devised “source criticism” to question the credibility of the historical sources. Supplementing this approach, Luwian Studies now stimulates what might be considered “source convergence.” It means that as many different sources as possible should be taken into account in order to reconstruct past events. These sources include above all documents, but also the results of excavations and scientific investigations. Complex chains of events can best be reconstructed by combining different transmissions.

War and natural disasters

We think that the impact of natural disasters has been overrated. Natural disasters have never caused sudden cultural changes. Around 1700 BCE, the old palaces on Minoan Crete were destroyed by raids, not earthquakes. The caldera of Thera did not collapse during the Minoan period and there was no tsunami as a result of the Thera eruption. One should not expect that current scientific investigations using state-of-the-art technology will always lead to results that confirm long-standing paradigms in archaeology.

Troy

During the 13th century BCE, the kingdom of Troy covered the entire Biga Peninsula – from Edremit to the Marmara Sea. A city of the same name was located on the western edge of this region. It was about a hundred times larger than the archaeological site Hisarlık as known today. According to tradition, the city of Troy had been destroyed twice by Greek invaders at an interval of one or two generations. Both horizons of destruction have been well investigated by archaeologists (Troy VIh and VIIa). Circumstantial evidence suggests that the city (Troy VIIa) fell into the hands of the Greek attackers during the summer of 1182 BCE.

Tradition

It is conceivable that the Sea Peoples’ invasions, as known from Egyptian documents, refer to Luwian forces attacking the coastal countries of the Eastern Mediterranean. The term “Trojan War” had been used by ancient Greek authors to describe the counterattacks of the Mycenaean Greeks. As a consequence, the Sea Peoples’ invasions and the Trojan War may belong to the same chain of events, with the Luwians rather than the Greeks being the initial aggressors. The Odyssey relates for the most part the civil war on the Peloponnesian peninsula around 1180 BCE subsequent to the Greek victory at Troy. As a result of the widespread migrations after the war, the Etruscan culture emerged in Italy, based on immigration and cultural impulses from the Troad. Many cultural achievements manifest today can be derived from Luwian traditions.

Archaeological fieldwork

Finally: Archaeological excavations almost never reach deep enough.