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The Life of Heinrich Schliemann: Astute Archeologist Or Exploiter Extraordinaire?

Gabe Gerzon

Art History 105 Professor Townsend December 6, 2007

2 Heinrich Schliemann is usually held as one of the most highly esteemed archeologists of all time, known most notably for his discovery of Troy. He also was a brilliant linguist and businessman. His adroit entrepreneurial spirit enabled him to undertake his ambitious excavation at Hisarlik, the mound Troy lay beneath. His persistence, determination, and enthusiasm is what truly led him to his discovery of Troy and others sites, never questioning the actuality of Homers beautiful descriptions of wealth and mysticism. He epitomizes the self-made man, and followed through on his dream, even if he did not possess the textbook knowledge to conduct the very scientific art of excavating. To discover how he gathered his knowledge, one must follow a convoluted and suspiciously murky trail through the history books and Schliemanns personal records. The findings show great discrepancies in what Schliemann acknowledged as outside help, and what seemed to have actually happened. It seems as if Schliemanns friendly and truthful exterior hides portions of a man whose deceit and manipulation allowed him to own the publics eye, academias consideration, and his sole position in the history books as the discoverer of Troy at Hisarlik. In light of his world wide recognition, what kind of archeologist was Schliemann ultimately? Heinrich Schliemann was born January 6, 1822 in Neubukow, in MecklenburgSchwerin, Germany, to Ernst and Louise Schliemann. Schliemanns early childhood was unstable and tragic. His mother died when he was only nine, just after giving birth to her ninth child in twenty years. Soon after her death, his father lost his position as a pastor after an affair with their maid, and was suspected misappropriation of church funds.1 The strain of his mothers death as well as the his fathers financial duress led to the familys disbandment. It is not a stretch to say such hardships forced Schliemann to learn

3 how to do things on his own, relying only his fierce drive. Additionally, it is arguable he inherited his fathers lack of ethics. The narcissism that is apparent in his later life may have come from his inability to trust anyone but himself. He was taken in by his uncle shortly after his mothers death, and entered a prep school to prepare for a university, but could only afford one semester there after his fathers suspension without pay in 1833. Three years later in 1836, when Schliemann was 14, he became apprenticed to a grocer, Ludwig Holtz.2 Though working in the most unlikely of places to spark fierce personal determination, Schliemann turned the grocery store into just that. On his own account, he heard a drunken miller recite Homer in ancient Greek, and was so awed that he claimed from that moment, I never ceased to pray God that by His grace I might yet have happiness of learning Greek.3 His passions set aside for the time being, he continued work as a grocer for a few more years until an injury and otherwise deteriorating health compelled Schliemann to pursue a change in employment. Attempting to escape the misfortune that mired his youth, he became a cabin boy on a ship set to sail from Hamburg to Columbia. The ships subsequent wreck off the Dutch coast during a fierce hurricane proved to be a blessing in disguise. Only he and two others survived, and from here he made his way to Amsterdam to work as a clerk. At age 22, in 1844, he became a bookkeeper at one of Europes leading merchant banks, B.H. Schroder & Company.4 During this time he developed his well known knack for languages. By his own account he had a poor memory, but trained his mind by not sparing a moment without study. He learned English and French in six months each, and then learning Dutch, Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese in six weeks each. He also

4 undertook Greek, and eventually acquired a knowledge of almost twenty languages. He soon rose through the ranks at B.H. Schroder to become their agent in Saint Petersberg. His wealth accumulating, he desired to start his own business as a trader in indigo, sugar, tea, coffee, and Rhine wines. Schliemann was a moneymaking master, showcasing his shrewdness and entrepreneurial character in setting up a bank during the California Gold Rush through which he made a profit of over $243,000. He returned to Saint Petersberg after selling the bank, and married his first wife Ekaterina Lyshin in 1852, with whom he had a son and two daughters. He again soon capitalized as a profiteer on the Russian side in the Crimean War and as an indigo and olive oil dealer in the American Civil War. Perhaps finally feeling he was forever financially secure to embark upon his quest for Troy, he effectively retired from normal work in 1864. He gained great geographical knowledge on his subsequent world tour from 1864-1866, during which he traveled from India, China and Japan, and the rest of the world until settling in Paris in 1866.5 In many respects, Schliemann represents the achievement of what would we call today the American Dream. He came from a modest background that could have quashed his ambitions, but his determination, exuberance, remarkable memory and entrepreneurial mindset propelled him to great wealth and security. But Schliemann would never be content with simply monetary achievement. Ever since his young days in the grocery store, he fantasized about the Homeric vision of Troy, and his burning desire to be the archaeologist to discover it. Schliemann did not care for traditional or usual credentials; he knew what he wanted and would stop at nothing until he achieved it. So with his

5 capital that would last him the rest of his extravagant life, he embarked on his life-long mission to find Troy, and place his name in the history books forever. As extraordinarily famous as Schliemann was, there was another man who was just as extraordinarily overlooked. Frank Calvert was a quiet, unassuming British archeologist whose name is so conspicuously rare in texts regarding Troy because of a lack of voluminous material written about him or by him. While Schliemann wrote around eighty thousand letters and numerous autobiographies, Frank Calvert left no autobiography or personal accounts. As this paper will briefly discuss, Calvert (18281908) was as instrumental, if not more than Schliemann, in the discovery of Troy. Susan Allen Heuck (noted expert on excavations at Troy) contends that Calvert was a victim of his own self-effacement, lack of publication and financial destitution.6 The fate of both Heinrich Schliemann and Frank Calvert, and their contributions to archeology, would be quite different had it not been for a meeting in the summer of 1868. Schliemann was having an unsuccessful summer excavating sites in Troad in search of Troy. At the Dardanelles he met Calvert, and Calvert was immediately impressed with Schliemanns demeanor, determination, and affluence. Schliemanns diaries in the ensuing days of meeting Calvert were dated using two different calendars so he could rework the important events of the next few days. The most important event would be Calverts persuasion of Schliemann that the site of Troy most probably lay not at Pinarbasi, but at Hisarlik,7 a thought Schliemann would later take credit for himself. It has been demonstrated by surveying Schliemanns diaries and letters pre-1868 that he had not the faintest notion that Hisarlik was the resting spot of Troy. In the events, findings, and quarrels over the next decade, Calvert would be swept aside by Schliemanns search for

6 recognition and approval, his entrepreneurs talent, and his quest for Victorian respectability.8 Though Calvert and Schliemann shared the yearning for finding the Homeric city of Troy that is where the similarities end. Calvert was a gentleman scholar whose family had fallen from a measure of social prominence into disgrace.9 He was heavily involved in his brother Fredericks career, who became embroiled in a terrible scandal that left the once wealthy Calverts broke. While he owned half the mound at Hisarlik, he did not have the money to excavate it personally. Calvert would sacrifice personal considerations in the interest of science10 by ignoring his own suspicions about Schliemanns character in order to further the excavations of Hisarlik. His decision would lead to fame of Schliemann, and to his own obscurity. From 1868-1869 the two exchanged letters detailing the logistics of their upcoming dig of Hisarlik. In these letters Calvert is incessantly educating Schliemann, as Schliemann continually showed an ignorance of Trojan topography.11 The permit they needed to begin their dig was stalled by the Turkish government, and Schliemann went to the U.S. to gain citizenship as a means to quickly and fraudulently divorce his wife. He had met his future wife Sophia recently, whom he would conduct many of his ensuing excavations with. Schliemanns brash demeanor was further revealed on April 21, 1870 when in a letter he proclaimed, knowing in advance that the Turkish owners would refuse to give me permission, I did not ask them. He had begun work on the mounds at Hisarlik without official consent. Calvert was perturbed, knowing the government could easily put a stop to their excavation now.12 Schliemann had continually hedged on his gentlemans agreement with Calvert, apparent in his lack of help in securing the office of Prussian

7 vice-consul at the Dardanelles, slyly going back on his agreement to help dig Calverts portion of Hisarlik, and insulting his gentlemanly code by offering him a commission for his labors.13 This was a sign of things to come when in May, 1870 Schliemann rushed into print that he and Calvert had begun unearthing Hisarlik without a permit, and claimed to have found Priams Palace. This imprudent act of falsification caused much stress and anger for Calvert, who was trying to distance himself from any more controversy than he already had because of his familys situation. Calverts desire to begin unrelated mining operations led him to attempt to sell the sole rights to Hisarlik to Schliemann for 500 pounds, which Schliemann curiously rejected. As is apparent in the years after, Schliemann undoubtedly wished for unilateral control over Hisarlik. But at this point, before truly discovering what he would soon find lay buried in Hisarlik, Calvert was a necessity to his operation.14 Soon though, Calvert was away on business relating to his mining operation, and in the mean time Schliemann began to make progress by himself. He found metal, copper tools, and copper brooches, which were shown to be from the Bronze Age. Because this was further than Calvert had ever reached, Schliemanns swagger grew. But just as soon as he felt Troy was within his grasp, he fell prey to the peaks and valleys of archeology. He found nothing of real significance until he finally began digging on Calverts land, four years after being instructed to by Calvert, during his third season at Hisarlik. On June 11, 1872 he found sculpture, or more precisely, a marble metope bearing an image of Helios, or Apollo, in a chariot and flanked by triglyphs.15 Soon thereafter he found a six meter high wall built on bedrock, which he proclaimed to be The Great Tower of Ilium. It was one of the

8 most important findings he would make at Hisarlik. The most notable and famous is of an extravagant nature that is almost unparalleled in Aegean archeology. Schliemann excavated even more heavily once severing ties with Calvert, digging simultaneously in the southeast, northwest, and northeast portions of the citadel. He discovered the famous Priams Treasure on May 31, 1873 outside the fortification wall of his second stratum.16 As with many occasions in Schliemanns personal records, there are discrepancies and distortions regarding the discovery of Priams Treasure. Though his wife Sophia was not there, he later wrote she was in fact, because he was endeavoring to make an archeologist out of her.17 Though Schliemann tried to remove the treasure and lock it away without the notice of anyone else, the representative at the site soon demanded Schliemann open all of his chests and cupboards; Schliemann refused. Coincidently (and fortuitously), at this very moment he received a letter from Frank Calverts brother, Frederick, who had stored artifacts for him in the past. Schliemann quickly wrote back, pleading that Frederick lock up some little broken pottery for him, fudging his discovery. It turns out Schliemann (ever the business minded knave) had good reason to keep his prize secret. Priams Treasure was a hoard of gold, silver, and bronze jewelry, as well as six gold bracelets, two gold headdresses, one gold diadem, four golden basket-earrings with pendant chains, 56 golden shell-earrings, and 8750 gold beads (among numerous other treasures). After a weeks storage with Frederick Calvert, Schliemann surreptitiously smuggled his prize out of Turkey and to Athens. The news leaked July second, and the Turkish government was understandably furious at his underhanded actions. Against the judgment from his close advisors, Schliemann unscrupulously

9 published a description of Priams Treasure on August fifth. The backlash was immense. An anonymous article in response said, It is bad enough that the Ottoman Government should have been defrauded of its due, but it is far worse that that fraud should have been practiced in the name of scienceit casts a slur upon science itself.18 The author was not anonymous in the eyes of Schliemann, who was sure (and likely correct) that the author was Calvert. Schliemann and Calvert exchanged derogatory articles, with Schliemann blatantly morphing the past so as to diminish Calverts crucial role in Schliemanns findings. The struggle over Priams treasure was settled on April 12, 1875 with Schliemanns payment of 50,000 francs to the Ottoman government as compensation. However, he was tricked and did not realize that one stipulation in the agreement was that he was forbidden from ever excavating at Hisarlik again. He began to excavate Mycenae in the summer of 1876, utilizing his belief that he could wield Priams Treasure and my large collection as a weapon to get permission to excavate Olympia and Mycenae.19 Even though his Priams Treasure had allowed him to eclipse Calvert both publicly and critically, there were many critics whom he could not silence. Prominent British war artist William Simpson described Schliemanns showcase of Priams Treasure as Priams pigsty, and accused Schliemann of unbalanced imagination in order to explain the creationsproduced at Hissarlik.20 And since Schliemann was concerned about his image above all, he developed a burning desire to dig at Hisarlik again for further evidence of Troy. An interesting dilemma stood in his way; Calvert, the U.S. consular agent at the Dardanelles, and the owner of the eastern half of Hisarlik, was an essential piece to gaining the right to work there again. The two apprehensively reconciled, and Schliemann excavated Hisarlik from 1878-1879. He

10 corroborated his identification of Priams Troy with the discovery of eight treasures of the second stratum. He had uncovered a great deal of the second stratum, including a major portion of its fortification wall.21 However, in 1890 it was confirmed by a museum director that the second stratum must be older than this stratum with Mycenaean vases, and thus could not be Troy. Priams Treasure was eventually listed among items lost during the capture of Berlin in May 1945. By now it is clear Schliemann was not your typical fastidious and meticulous archaeologist. He even noted that the work of excavating was so boring, he could not bear it for more than three hours a day.22 While he unearthed four layers of earth pertaining to Troy, he also destroyed three layers in his hurriedness and carelessness. Additionally, because he had no formal archaeological training, he made a number of severe mistakes in his digs. He did not correctly comprehend how the layers the earth revealed a chronology of happenings. Deriving from his lack of understanding, he inaccurately identified many artifacts he found. As Calvert correctly observed at the time, there was a gap of over a thousand years in the chronology Schliemann put forth. If one was to follow the chronology Schliemann espoused, the level of Troy II is one thousand years too early for Priams Troy. Schliemann admitted himself, One of my greatest difficulties has been to make the enormous accumulation of debris at Troy agree with chronology; and in thisI have only partially succeeded.23 Nevertheless, Schliemann had shown, to himself and everyone else, that he was a force to be reckoned with. Clearly encouraged by his previous discoveries on the Troad, Schliemann gained permission to excavate his site of Troy in 1876. However, the governor of the Dardanelles, Ibrahim Pasha, and Schliemann clashed on many issues.24

11 He prohibited Schliemann from entering his own site, from building huts for his workers, and hired a Turkish guard whom Schliemann did not get along with. Feeling that everything was working against him at his precious Troy, he announced he would not return as long as Ibrahim was governor of the Troad.25 Never to be wholly deterred, Schliemann set his sights on a location that would prove to be abundant in discoveries and controversies. Schliemann commenced excavations at Mycenae in latter half of 1876. The most well-known and acclaimed discoveries come from the Lions Gate portion of the site, which would prove to house the five grave shafts that held innumerable prizes. Grave III greatly surpassed the wealth found in Graves I and II, and the signs of civilization present in it seem to corroborate Schliemanns notion of a sophisticated world of Homeric heroes.26 In his diary Schliemann boasts of a man and a woman covered by at least five kilograms of jewels of pure goldand many large bronze vessels and many gold vessels. While Grave Shaft III provided thrilling realizations, the truly valuable ancient artifacts were found in Grave IV on the 28th of November. Here Schliemann found three golden masksmade with a marvelous art on the faces of the deceased.27 He proclaimed these to be the tombs of Agamemnon, Cassandra, Eurymedon and their companions, all slain at a banquet by Clytemnestra and her love Aegisthos. Enthralled by his findings, he uttered the immortal line, I have gazed on the face of Agamemnon. Though ultimately inaccurate, this discovery exemplified Schliemanns sumptuous career perhaps more so than Troy, and helped him achieve great critical and public praise. His international celebrity skyrocketed beyond even his own wild imagination, but there were, as usual, problems and criticisms concerning his excavation. It seems that

12 in his excitement from finding his masks, he abruptly terminated the excavations of Mycenae in December, even though the grave circle had not yet been fully explored.28 His imprudence and misguided contentment with his own excavation would be confirmed in 1877 when his old assistant Stamatakis uncovered Grave Shaft VI. Also, Schliemann provides no answers as to why Grave Shafts III, IV, and V are so rich compared to the others. Most important of all conditionality placed on Schliemanns discoveries at the Lion Gate must (again) be his inaccurate dating. While it is unfair to place more than a minimal amount of blame on Schliemann, it is now universally accepted that the Mask of Agamemnon does not belong to whom it bears the name. The mask has been dated to about 1500 B.C., about 300 years earlier than Agamemnons traditional life. While Schliemann ceaselessly looked at his findings through a clouded Homeric lens (seen in misnomers such as the Treasury of Athens), his findings are still remarkable. His misnomers can easily be overlooked in the shocking realization that he discovered Troy (with a great deal of help), The Citadel of Mycenae, and the Citadel of Tiryns (both with little help) in one lifetime. Throughout the 1880s Schliemanns health began to decline, as he stepped down from major archeological expeditions and simply enjoyed his fortune, his wife Sophia, and traveling. Schliemann never fully recovered from an operation to correct an inner ear infection, and collapsed in the streets of Naples on Christmas, 1890, and succumbed the next day. He was sixty-eight, twenty years removed from his first excavation at Hisarlik. Though never having received a formal education, he had earned twenty-nine degrees and diplomas from academic societies, museums, and universities.29

13 It is imperative to note that the generally accepted accounts of history are written by the pens of the winners. These accounts almost always hide a bias below the surface. With Thanksgiving 2007 in the recent past, we remember the Native Americans who never had a voice in the history books. Portrayed as savages that were tamed and civilized by the Europeans, they were in fact a highly culturally, agriculturally, spiritually, and governmentally advanced people. However, this has been purposefully omitted by the WASP history writers, who hold the prestige. The Native Americans, just as Calvert was to Schliemann, were nave to how the Europeans would ultimately betray them and take credit for all they had learned. There is a great deal of dirt and deceit under the rug of Schliemanns early life, which is largely ignored because of his monumental discoveries. It cannot be forgotten however that it is money that allowed Schliemann to do what Calvert could not undertake because of his familys troubled financial and personal past. Schliemann had built a secure financial foundation that would fund his bid for intellectual respectability,30 which allowed his personal charisma and innate intellect to compensate for his lack of general know-how. With a little luck, he became the man who discovered Troy and the Citadels on Mycenae, but also not without great determination and belief. While his excavations at Hisarlik and his relationship with Calvert show a man dedicated to the mantra the end justifies the means, it is hard to argue with his voluminous rsum, which (besides Troy) can hardly be attributed to Calvert or anyone else. Schliemanns dealings with Priams Treasure illustrate both his dishonesty and his ability to navigate the political waters successfully. His heart was perhaps bigger than his brain, but it was his passion that turned out to be his greatest asset, and what set him apart from the rest.

14 He was a man so hell-bent on achieving his goals, he had no time to waste waiting for permits or permission. But most of all, he was a cunning, shrewd, unscrupulous businessman who chased his dreams with a fervor most of us can hardly fathom.

Major publications by Heinrich Schliemann: Ithaca, the Peloponnese, and Troy. (1869) Troy and Its Remains: A Narrative of Researches and Discoveries Made on the Site of Ilium, and in the Trojan Plain. (1875) Mycenae: A Narrative of Researches and Discoveries at Mycenae and Tiryns. (1878) Ilios: The City and Country of the Trojans: The Results of Researches and Discoveries on the Site of Troy and Throughout the Troad in the years 1871-72-73-78-79. (1880) End Notes 1. Allen, Susan Heuck. Finding the Walls of Troy. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999) , 110. 2. Schliemann, Heinrich. Troy and its Remains. (London: John Murray, Albemarle Street, 1875) , 2. 3. Allen, 112. 4. Allen, 112. 5. Schliemann, 8. 6. Allen, 110. 7. Allen, 7. 8. Allen, 109. 9. Allen, 11. 10. Allen, 116. 11. Allen, 119.

15 12. Allen, 129. 13. Allen, 133. 14. Allen, 137. 15. Allen, 148. 16. Allen, 161. 17. Allen, 163. 18. Allen, 170. 19. Allen, 181. 20. Allen, 186. 21. Allen, 191. 22. Allen, 129. 23. Schliemann, 12. 24. Traill, David. Schliemann of Troy: Treasure and Deceit. London: John Murray (Publishers) Ltd., 1995) , 142. 24. Traill, 143. 25. Traill, 160. 26. Traill, 161. 27. Traill, 168. 28. Allen, 227. 29. Allen, 127.


Bibliography Allen, Susan Heuck. Finding the Walls of Troy. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999. Myth, Scandal, and History. Edited by William Calder and David Trail. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1986. Marsh, Ben. Finding the Walls of Troy (a review). The Geographical Review 90.1 (2000) : 131. Mourby, Adrian, Troy, City of Dreams, History Today volume 54, (2004) : 6. Runnels, Curtis. The Archaeology of Heinrich Schliemann: An Annotated Bibliographic Handlist (Connecticut: David Brown Books Co., 2002) Schliemann, Heinrich. Troy and its Remains. London: John Murray, Albemarle Street, 1875. Thomas, C.G. Myth, Scandal, and History (a review) American Historical Review 92 (1987) : 946. Traill, David. Schliemann of Troy: Treasure and Deceit. London: John Murray (Publishers) Ltd., 1995.