Heinrich Schliemann

Heinrich Schliemann (hīn´rĬkh shlē´män), 1822–90, German archaeologist, discoverer of the ruins of Troy. He accumulated a fortune in the indigo trade and as a military contractor and retired from business in 1863 to dedicate himself to finding Troy and other Homeric sites. After several years of study and travel, in 1871 he undertook at his own expense excavations at Hissarlik that resulted in the discovery of four superimposed towns. Schliemann's research at Hissarlik represented the archaeological discovery of a Homeric civilization, previously considered by many experts to be legendary. Schliemann related every object he found to the verses of Homer, which he knew by heart. He made other notable excavations at Mycenae (1876–78), Ithaca (1878), Orchomenus, Boeotia (1881–82), and Tiryns (1884–85) and was assisted by Wilhelm Dörpfeld from 1882. His work in Greece demonstrated the existence of the previously unknown civilization of the Greek Bronze Age. Schliemann made two of the most spectacular discoveries in the history of archaeology, finding the "Treasure of Priam" at Hissarlik in 1873 (a trove that included two gold diadems, thousands of pieces of gold jewelry, bronze weapons, and silver and copper vessels) and an even larger treasure of gold, silver, and copper ornaments, masks, and swords at the Shaft Graves at Mycenae in 1876–77. The Treasure of Priam has always been controversial, as Schliemann's accounts of this discovery were inconsistent, and he smuggled the items out of Turkey. Schliemann's work, widely reported by the international press, captured the public imagination and dramatically revealed the great potential of archaeological research. Schliemann wrote several books describing his discoveries and an autobiography (published posthumously in 1892) and left a vast collection of personal papers and records, He acquired American citizenship because he was living in California when it became a state (1850).

See biographies by E. Ludwig (1931), R. Payne (1958), A. C. Brackman (1974), and D. A. Traill (1995); C. Schuchhardt, Schliemann's Excavations and Archaeological and Historical Studies (1977); S. H. Allen, Finding the Walls of Troy (1999).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2015, The Columbia University Press.

Heinrich Schliemann: Selected full-text books and articles

Schliemann: The Story of a Gold-Seeker By Emil Ludwig; D. F. Tait Little, Brown, and Company, 1931
Tiryns: The Prehistoric Palace of the Kings of Tiryns By Heinrich Schliemann; Wilhelm Deorpfeld Arno Press, 1976
Uncovering the Past: A History of Archaeology By William H. Stiebing Jr Prometheus Books, 1993
Librarian’s tip: "Schliemann Discovers Aegean Prehistory" begins on p. 124
The Bull of Minos By Leonard Cottrell Rinehart, 1958
Librarian’s tip: Chap. II "Schliemann the Romantic"
Lost Cities and Vanished Civilizations By Robert Silverberg Chilton, 1962
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 2 "Homer's Troy"
Our Hellenic Heritage By H. R. James MacMillan, vol.1, 1921
Librarian’s tip: Chap. VI "Ilium and Mycenae"
The Gold of Troy Emerges from the Cold War By Glasgow, Eric Contemporary Review, Vol. 268, No. 1565, June 1996
Greece before History: An Archaeological Companion and Guide By Curtis Runnels; Priscilla Murray Stanford University Press, 2001
Librarian’s tip: "On the Schliemann Trail" begins on p. 163
Ancient Mycenae: the Capital City of Agamemnon By George E. Mylonas Princeton University Press, 1957
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