Heinrick Schliemann is the main man in the discovery of the City of Troy which only existed before in Homer’s legend “Iliad”. His interest in the search for the Trojan city started during his early childhood story-telling episodes with his father. Later he became a successful businessman at a very early age and started travelling around the world. During his later years as an archeologist, he discovered significant artifacts that proved the probable existence of Troy and Mycenae. His discoveries and contributions, though accompanied with criticisms, illustrated that Homer’s legend is a possible reality.
Background on Heinrick Schliemann Childhood and Early Success Heinrick Schliemann is a German archaeologist who was born on January 8, 1822 in the county of Mecklenbyrg-Schwerin in Germany. His childhood years were the difficult episodes in his life because he had to quit schooling at the age of 14 in order to work for a living. However, he was still able to continue his study while working. His ability to master foreign languages earned him a good position in business dealings.
Because of this ability, he was able to garner a large amount of money and fortune in his early life which made him retire at a very young age of 41. Boulter, 1990) As stated in his memoirs and books, his interest on exploring the city of Troy is because when his father, Ernst Schliemann told him about the story between Helen, the beautiful wife of the Spartan King and her lover, Paris who is the prince of Troy. The Iliad, written by Homer recounts the war that emerged when these two lovers decided to elope to continue their forbidden love. Travels and other Quests Kris Hirst, an archaeologist, describes Heinrick Schliemann as a world traveler who loves adventures. He also can speak 15 languages and regarded as an amateur archaeologist.
David Traill (1995) portrays Schliemann as an intelligent, outgoing, very talented and also very restless. He adds that Schliemann’s qualities changed the course of archaeology and centered his attention on Iliad which he believed to have really existed. The story, according to Schliemann, inspired him to conduct a search for the existence of the Trojan City by using archaeological evidences. As mentioned by Hirst, Schliemann used the fortunes from his business to finance his quest. Traill (1995) recalls Schliemann’s destinations in his travels around the world.
He has visited different countries around the world like the Netherlands, Russia, England, France, Mexico, America, Greece, Egypt, Italy, India, Singapore, Hong Kong, China, and Japan before turning 45. On his visits, he toured on the monuments, took classes on universities, accounted his experiences on diaries and travelogues, and made friends and enemies. This expensive around the world expedition was made possible because of his business. After studies and investigation on the evidences gathered, his quest for the city of Troy materialized as he found its original site which is located at Hisarlik in Turkey.
According to Cedric Boulter (1990), Schliemann’s discoveries were used to establish a historical background on the legend of Homer which has ignited him since his childhood years. Archeology and Discoveries After his retirement and travels, Schleimann devoted himself in archaeology. In 1868, at the age of 46, he began studying archaeology. By June 1868, he stayed at the excavations at Pompeii for 3 days as directed by Guiseppi Fiorelli. In the next month, he visited Mount Aetos which was soon regarded as the site of the palace of Odysseus.
It is also where Schliemann dug his first excavation pit. His most famous excavation according to Boulter (1990) is when he dug at Troy in 1870, two years later. He also made another significant discovery at Mycenae which houses the legendary Agamemnon, leader of the Greeks during the Trojan War. His discovery of Troy in Hisarlik is through the help of a British archaeologist in the name of Frank Calvert. Calvert is the one who introduced the concept of the possible location of the Trojan city in Hisarlik to Schliemann.
Calvert alone cannot conduct excavations by himself because the British Museum won’t grant him funding so Schliemann was the one who financed the granting of permits and the excavation on Hisarlik. On the other hand, Calvert was mentioned in Schliemann’s works as the one who agreed with his theories regarding the location of Troy and not as the man who introduced the idea of Troy being in Hisarlik. So, most of the credits on the discovery went to Schliemann. (Hirtz) Other versions on Schliemann’s interest in Troy
Traill (1995) states another possible reason for the rose of interest of Schliemann in Classics and archaeology because many writers as mentioned by Wellington King, have not found any related evidence that will prove Schliemann’s curiosity in archeology or in finding the city of Troy in his early childhood. Traill (1995) theorizes that his interest in archeology began out of his failed marriage. His interest in the Classical Greek was intended to please his former wife Katerina Petrovna Lyshina. So, Traill predicts that Schliemann’s conversion from a businessman to an archeologist is because of his desire to please her.
As quoted from his work “Schliemann of Troy”, “the crucial conversion from merchant to archaeologist that [happened] between 1856 and 1870 may have found its original impetus in the impossible task of pleasing a woman who despised him. ” (Trail, 1995) Contributions and Criticisms His contributions on the field of archaeology is centered in establishing the fact that Trojan City really existed and hence, historical. His efforts to prove its validity although was not sufficient until today, is remarkable and can be used in future studies and fact findings. As quoted by King in one of Schliemann’s works: My present research enterprise has absolutely nothing to do with the study of ancient works of art concealed beneath the soil.
No, this customary aim of research by excavators is completely foreign to the historical work with which I am occupied … my sole and only aim is to be able to establish a historical fact, on which I disagree with some eminent historians and geographers. ” (Schlieman) Schliemann also received criticism during his early conquests for the city of Troy. His activities like bulldozing through the layers of cities destroyed important archaeological data which according to King will be forever lost.
Also another fact is that Schliemann had lied to the Ottomans in order to take King Priam’s gold which is a large collection of gold items found in Hisarlik. He eventually donated it in a museum in Berlin but was stolen by the Soviets during the Second World War. This created a dispute on who will own the gold between Turkey, Germany, Russia and Greece. Conclusion Based from the current works and studies by different writers and researchers, this paper finds out that Schliemann’s interest in archaeology which focuses on his desire to find the city of Troy is rooted in two possible episodes in his life.
As the writers suggest, his interest may have bloomed as early as his childhood years or during his married years or maybe in both instances in his life. His contributions in the field of archaeology may have produced both positive and negative implications but those also created another area of interest for future studies. Since Schliemann started the theory of Troy’s existence, it will be up for the archaeologists today to prove him right or wrong.