Heinrich Schliemann The Great Discoverer of ancient Troy


     We all are familiar with the Famous English Movie Troy. Nevertheless, would we think about the great discoverer of this famous and well-known civilization. No one But Heinrich Schliemann make it true from the epic of famous poet  was born in Germany in 1822. His commercial skills and gift for languages allowed him to close down his business interests in 1863 to devote himself to traveling and studying the ancient Greek world until his death in 1890. Part of the enduring appeal of Schliemann’s life-story lies in his rather dubious role as an outsider who took on the academic establishment and outwitted the Greek and Turkish authorities in the relentless and successful pursuit of his theories. How far this view is correct may be debated, but the ersistence, discipline and intelligence that brought him commercial success and a rapid rise from shop assistant to Californian banker would have been helpful in approaching excavation: ‘The grocer who unpacks crates is better equipped to unpack the middens of antiquity than the polite scholar who has never seen the inside of his own dustbin’ (Casson 1939, 224). However, Schliemann was not the only archaeologist in Greece or Turkey to pay attention to the recognition and recording of stratigraphy and finds during an excavation. In the 1870s an Austrian, Alexander Conze, working at Samothrace and a German, Ernst Curtius, at Olympia both applied rigorous methods of excavation inspired by the recent work of Guiseppe Fiorelli at Pompeii in Italy (Trigger 1989, 196–7).  Nineteenth-century German literary scholars considered that the Iliad (Homer’s epic poem recounting  stories of the Trojan Wars) was not based on a historical reality, but involved miscellaneous  accounts of mythical heroes. Schliemann held the opposite view and, having combined study of the Homeric text with fieldwork in Greece and Turkey, he published observations about Mycenae and
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Heinrich Schliemann(1822-1890)
the location of Troy in 1869—two years before he began to excavate that site. He drew wide attention to his findings through the rapid publication of his work at Troy and related sites, as well as popular reports to newspapers such as The Times. His results have undergone considerable reinterpretation, initially by his co-worker Dörpfeld, who only three years after Schliemann’s death, redefined the occupation level at Troy that was considered to have belonged to the Homeric period. Although Schliemann’s excavations and research around the Aegean were initially motivated by the desire to elucidate a specific literary text, they brought the Greek Bronze Age and its antecedents to light for the first time. He conducted his work as a conscious problem-oriented exercise, rather than simply to recover attractive finds from a known historical site; he also paid attention to the whole  stratigraphic sequence at Troy, not just a single period. His approach was in stark contrast to Mariette’s discovery of the  Serapeum, at Memphis in Egypt, in 1851. Mariette knew about the site from an ancient Greek traveller’s account and from references in Egyptian papyri, but only discovered it thanks to a good memory and the chance observation of the head of a sphinx sticking out of the sand; four  years of excavation followed (Daniel, 1967, 229). Happy accidents of this kind were the rule rather than the exception. Many sites mentioned in historica sources or the Bible were only identified because their names appeared on building inscriptions or clay tablets found during plunder for museum exhibits. One example of this kind was the site of Sippar in southern Mesopotamia (the biblica Sepharvaim) where Rassam excavated by British Museum in 1881 . Ironically, one of the cuneiform inscriptions that he found recorded an excavation carried out by the Babylonian king Nabonidus in the sixth century BC. Nabonidus dug beneath the foundations of a temple dedicated to the Sun-God Shamash to find out who had built it, and discovered an inscription through which he can get the answer of his question (Lloyd 1980, 156).
Schliemann has interest in Archaeology since his childhood.  Schliemann claimed that his father had already introduced him to tales of the Greek Classical Era as related in The Iliad and The Odyssey, and had given him an Illustrated History of the World as a Christmas gift in 1829. Heinrich Schliemann even claimed in later life that by the age of eight he had already formed the ambition to excavate the ancient city of Troy. Schliemann also related how he and a young playmate, a girl named Minna Meincke, used to conduct “archaeological excavations” at the local churchyard and would spend time in the ruins of a local castle. It happened that Schliemann senior was accused of embezzeling church funds and the ensuing scandal and loss of income contributed to his sons presence in the Gymnasium being only a brief one. Despite having a real interest in the Greek language, and a scholarly cast of mind, Heinrich spend a few years in a trades and commerce related ‘vocational school’ before becoming a apprenticed to a grocer at the age of fourteen. Heinrich stayed in this employment for some five years but continued to read in line with his interests in his limited spare time. He later claimed to have taught himself Dutch, English, French, Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese, over some two years. In 1841 Heinrich abruptly left his employer and embarked as a cabin boy on a ship bound for South America but a shipwreck saw him being returned to German territory after a rescue and landing in the Netherlands. He subsequently gained employment in merchant trading enterprises and was sent by one such firm to the Russian city of St Petersburg where his talent for and interest in languages allowed him to learn Russian and Greek in order readily converse with his clients and other business contacts. Schliemann seems to have employed a system that he used his entire life to learn languages – that of writing up his diary in the language of whatever country he happened to be in. Circa 1851 Heinrich moved to California where one of his brothers had made a fortune during these years which were years of “Gold Rush.” Heinrich started a banking enterprise that bought and sold the gold dust won by the miners. Although he seems to have made a lot of money, (his bank seems to have handled $1,350,000 worth of gold in just six months), Heinrich Schliemann returned to Russia in 1852. Back in Russia Heinrich set himself up on somewhat gentlemanly patterns of life and married Ekaterina Lyschin, a niece of one of his wealthy friends.
The new Mrs. Heinrich Schliemann seems to have expected Heinrich, although already quite wealthy, to continue to be prosperously active in business. Involvements in commerce as a contractor of military supplies at the time of the Crimean War (1854-1856) brought yet more wealth to the Schliemann household. This level of wealth allowed Heinrich Schliemann to retire from being an active merchant and to actively pursue his deep interest in the world of the ancient civilisations of Greece and Troy. He based himself in Paris and unsuccessfully tried to encourage his wife to bring their three children to continue their lives there. In 1868, after several years of archaeological exploration principally undertaken in Turkey, Heinrich Schliemann took on a partnership interest in a site at Hissarlik, previously investigated by a British Archaeolgist named Frank Calvert, that Schliemann himself was convinced was the site of the ancient city of Troy. Schliemann by this time seems to have become firmly committed to finding the site of Troy and to decisively proving the actual historicity of the “Trojan War” as related in the ancient greek classics. It happened that there was a falling out between Heinrich Schliemann and Frank Calvert as Schliemann, then an enthusiastic but perhaps unscientific excavator, assuming that “Homeric” Troy must be at the lower levels of the remains of the settlement appeasrs to have dug straight down to those levels without, in Calvert’s view, sufficiently investigating the materials removed.
Ancient fortifications were discovered, however, in 1872. A cache of artifacts in copper, silver and gold was unearthed in 1873 and styled by Heinrich Schliemann as being “Priam’s Treasure” after King Priam of Troy. By this time Heinrich Schliemann and his first wife, (who was not interested in Archaeology), had parted company, Schliemann had asked a friend to help him find a well-educated, Greek woman, who was beautiful, dark-haired, poor, and shared a great interest in Homer. Schliemann’s new younger wife appeared wearing the so-styled “Jewels of Helen.”
(Two children were born to this second marriage. These two, male, children were given the names Andromache and Agamemnon Schliemann). In the event the Turkish government disapproved of Heinrich Schliemann’s approach to publicizing his discoveries and revoked permissions to excavate at Hissarlik. Schliemann and Calvert further alienated the Turkish
authorities by smuggling the so called “Priam’s Treasure” out of Turkey. Scliemann subsequently embarked on excavations on the island of Crete where, in 1876, he enearthed elaborate golden artefacts, including a so styled “Mask of  Agamemnon” discovered alongside skeletal remains in shaft graves associated by Schliemann with the ancient civilisation of the Myceneans. The Turkish authorities had agreed to allow Schliemann to resume excavations at Hissarlik / Troy in 1876 but Schliemann did not return there to dig until a “second excavation” of 1878-1879. Other excavations followed in 1882-1883 and 1888-1890. During these later periods Heinrich Schilemann was assisted by other archaeologists including Wilhelm Dörpfeld, (in 1888-1890), who taught him to stratigrapize. Heinrich Schliemann developed a serious infection in his ears and after an operation in Greece in November 1890. Against the advice of his doctors he subsequently traveled to Leipzig, Berlin and Paris but medical complications associated with his initial ear complaint set in. He was on his way back to Athens for Christmas of that year but came to rest in Naples too unwell to complete the journey. He did visit the ruins of Pompeii but collapsed on Christmas day and died the following day. His friends ensured that he was buried in Greece in an elaborate mausoleum that Schliemann had already had built upon an Athenian hill and in the ancient Greek style as his final resting place. An inscription in ancient Greek above the entrance to this mausoleum declared it to be “For the hero, Schliemann.” Heinrich Schliemann remains a controversial figure often accused of manipulating the details of his own life and his “discoveries” to build a misleading picture of his career and achievements. Other sources, including early personal letters, do not seem to support his claims that he had a very serious interest from an early age in Archaeology. More seriously still a servant of long standing claimed that metal “artifacts” were manufactured at Schliemann’s request such they they could be “salted” for “discovery” at ancient sites. Even the Mask of Agamemnon itself is sometimes alleged to be in this category as it seems to be in a style not known elsewhere in Greek Archaeology.
According to Books and online sources :

Md.Adnan Arif Salim Aurnab
Archaeology Grad Student, Deconstructive Writer,
Blogger and Online Archaeologist.
http://archaeologyofhumankind.blogspot.com/
Jahangirnagar University .
Banglades

For More you can read
Casson S 1939, The Discovery of Man, London, Hamish Hamilton..
Daniel G 1967, The Origins and Growth of Archaeology,Harmondsworth, Penguin.
Kevin Greene 1983, Archaeology: An Introduction ,The History, Principles and Methods of
Modern Archaeology ,Third Edition .
King, Wellington. Heros & Mythos, University of Texas, 1997
Lloyd Seton 1980, Foundations in the Dust: The Story of Mesopotamian Exploration, London,
Payne, Robert. The Gold of Troy: The Story of Heinrich Schliemann and the Buried Cities of Ancient Greece, Funk & Wagnalls Co, NY, 1959
Poole, Gary & Lynn. One Passion, Two Loves: The Story of Heinrich and Sophie Schliemann, Discoverers of Troy,
Trigger B G 1980, Gordon Childe:Revolutions in archaeology,London, Thames and Hudson.
Trigger B G 1989, A History of Archaeological Thought, Cambridge Univ Press
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