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by Archaeology Newsroom

Myth: The Founder of a Science

The birth of the Aegean prehistory is indissolubly connected with the Homeric epos and the Greek mythology, since the first archaeological research in the area was aiming at the verification of the historic truth comprised in the ancient texts and myths. However, the col¬lation of the Homeric world with the tangible relics led to the discovery of two, unknown so far, prehistoric civilizations, the Mycenean and the Northeastern Aegean one. In the era of Romanticism, Homer as well as the classic antiquity and the East are the baste points of reference for the pioneers of the Aegean prehistoric archaeology. The conception of Homer by H. Schliemann is not the result of a unique inspiration, but the consequence of scientific and cultural tendencies of his earlier or contemporary colleagues, distinguished in various, however relevant, fields, such as folklore and comparative mythology, which were especially developed in Germany during Schliemann’s period. W. Dörpfeld, on the contrary, Schliemann’s assistant in Troy and Tiryns, was more affected by classic archaeology, especially in the early years of his career. After the establishment of Otto’s dynasty in 1833, Greece became the most rewarding field for the German scholars, philologists in their majority, who initiated a new era in the archaeological research. Dörpfeid’s participation in the Olympia excavations had such an impact, that classic archaeology became a model for the interpretation of the prehistoric remnants of Troy and Tiryns. The reference of building ruins or site remnants to a Homeric or mythological framework has become an unquestionable reality in the case of the Aegean prehistory, while the discovery of Homeric cities and palaces remains a fascinating event even today.