Sofia Voutsaki has developed a very stimulating line of thought in her paper. In my view, one of the laudable traits of this paper is that it is characterized by the same tripartite structure which actually lies behind each scientific argument. Consciously or not, all of us start with a theory or a set of assumptions; we then proceed to methods in order to achieve our goal, i.e. to arrive at transparent interpretations of the past through empirical analysis. The analysis of empirical data is the end of the process, not its starting point, even if many people think it would be the beginning of our daily research work. The claim that the use of theory is unavoidable is often denied. Sofia Voutsaki's goal, as I understand it, is to make an attempt to narrow the gap between, on the one hand, mainly theory-driven research and, on the other, empirical analysis which is thought to be free from the unnecessary ‘burden’ of theory.
Christoph Ulf is Professor of Ancient History at the Department of Ancient History and Oriental Studies, University of Innsbruck, Austria. His main interests lie in the history of the societies of archaic Greece, inter- and transcultural contacts between Greece and the Near East, the significance of competition in antiquity, and the impact of political beliefs on historiography. Publications include Griechische Archaik. Interne Entwicklungen – externe Impulse (2004) (co-editor Robert Rollinger) and a range of papers about the Homeric poems and the social world of, and the formation of ethnicity in, archaic and classical Greece. He is currently writing Die Entstehung Griechenlands (co-author Erich Kistler).