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30 December 2012
Trojan pottery holds key to great Bronze Age collapse

The end of the Bronze Age signals the gradual decline of Eastern Mediterranean trade networks, and major cities in the Levantine coast, Anatolia and the Aegean. The collapse of Hittite power in Anatolia is believed to be one of the triggers, however the nature of the transition remains controversial.
     The Bronze Age city at Hisarlik in north-west Turkey - known as 'Troy' - was destroyed by conflict about 3200 years ago and straddles this period of collapse.
     The site has been studied for decades. The style of pottery made before the conflict was recognisably Trojan. Subsequent Early Iron Age remains include new building techniques, changes in settlement layout, and the addition of new styles of handmade ceramics more typical of the Balkan region.
     This difference led archaeologists to believe that the local people had been forced out and replaced by external populations from the north, however "there is substantial evidence for cultural continuity," says Peter Grave, at the University of New England in Armidale, Australia.
     When Grave and his colleagues examined the chemical profile of the pottery, the team realised that both pre and post-conflict ceramic artefacts contained clay from exactly the same local sources - suggesting enough people remained in the area to continue their own traditions, while copying Mycenaean-type and Proto-geometric wares.
     Grave says the post-conflict pottery is Balkan in style because the Trojans were keen to align themselves with the new power in the region.

Edited from Past Horizons (20 December 2012)

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