Course: Classics 51A
Date: Jan. 31
Heinrich Schliemann: A Pioneer in Archaeology
As Leo Deuel states in The Treasure of Time, “Every profession has its hero, the man of genius whose struggle and accomplishment seem to personify the highest aspiration of his
chosen field and who captures the imagination of the general public. In archaeology the unique hero has long been Heinrich Schliemann” 《1961, p.237》。 Notable for his marvelous discovery of Troy, Heinrich Schliemann has been widely regarded as one of the most outstanding scholars in
archaeology. Although Schliemann’s unscrupulous and destructive methods of excavation caused extensive damage to Troy, the discovery of precious artifacts and the popularization of the entire field of archaeology outweigh the destruction. Schliemann’s enormous enthusiasm for ancient Greece led him to archaeology. As depicted by Michael Wood, Schliemann read voraciously with every minute he had,
especially in archaeological and antiquarian studies 《1998, p.94》。 Schliemann’s desire for furthering his knowledge in Greece directed him to visit all the major museum collections 《Wood, 1998, p.94》。
If his analysis lacked precise academic discipline, Schliemann immediately sought help from contemporary scholars: Dorpfeld, Sayce, Muller and so on, many of them with remarkable accomplishments in their own field 《Wood, 1998, p.94》。 We can see that Schliemann’s insatiable desire for knowing more about ancient Greece was not limited to the books he read. By visiting he collections of all major museums in Italy, he practiced archaeology. He actively sought advice from distinguished scholars of his time to maintain the accuracy of his reasoning.
Regardless of the difficulty he met during excavation, Schliemann’s tremendous passion for Greek culture drove him to relentlessly uncover the ruins of Troy.
In addition, Schliemann realized his affinity for Greek civilization through his large wealth. In 1846, the firm of Schroder & Co designated Schliemann as a General Agent to take
over the indigo trade in St. Petersburg. There, he set up his own company and started to trade a wide range of commodities, including sugar, tea, wine and coffee. As his business prospered and grew into a large empire, Schliemann soon amassed a huge fortune. At the mere age of forty-six,
Schliemann was wealthy enough to retire from business, and devoted himself to searching for 2
Troy. He hired a team of seventy workers and embarked on a voyage into Asian Minor and the Greek mainland. After years of excavation, Schliemann discovered Troy, Mycenae and Tiryns,not to mention heaps of jewels and gold. The fortune Schliemann made earlier in business provided a solid financial base for his expedition— an unlimited budget was at his disposal. Unlike his contemporary archaeologists who usually lacked funds to carry out their research on Troy, Schliemann was able to turn his dream into reality. Interestingly, Schliemann accumulated an even larger amount of fortune when he discovered Trojan treasure. As both a successful businessman and an outstanding archaeologist, Schliemann later travelled around the world, exhibiting the treasures he excavated and giving public lectures about his exploration in Troy. Consequently, Schliemann raised enthusiasm for knowledge of the Aegean civilization, which had not existed prior to his discovery. Furthermore, Schliemann’s lifelong goal was to prove that Homer’s epic poems—The Iliad and The Odyssey— reflected historical truths and that Troy actually existed. In fact, Schliemann dedicated his entire life to uncover the remains of the legendary city. Schliemann’s passion was evident even as a young boy; he harbored an ambition to dig for the lost city of Troy. At the age of eight, for Christmas, Schliemann received an illustrated copy of Jerrer’s Universal History, which contained the epic tale of the Trojan War with a picture of Troy enveloped in flames 《Wood, 1998, p.59》。 The vivid story inspired young Schliemann so much that he argued with his father about the reality of Troy. Finally, the anecdote ended with Schliemann’s claim that he would one day find Troy 《Wood, 1998, p.59》。 The epic of Troy planted a seed in Schliemann’s mind to discover the lost city. As the seed of this dream germinated, Schliemann abandoned his business empire and fully devoted himself to the world
of archaeology. He carried out extensive excavations,collaborated with other excellent archaeologists, and finally fulfilled his goal of discovering Troy.
Schliemann’s obsession with Troy, however, saw no limits and soon took hold of him.
Schliemann ruined considerable priceless antiquities through his hasty and unscrupulous excavation methods. While digging furiously for the Troy of The Iliad, Schliemann considered
the layers built upon the site of Troy useless, and demanded his workers to get rid of everything else unrelated to Troy 《Lively, 2006》。 Schliemann’s only goal was to find Troy and “ to him the other layers or antiquities were simply debris”《Lively, 2006》。 In this manner, many precious historical artifacts, such as vases and frescoes, were abandoned or destroyed during the 3
excavation. Accordingly, the loss of valuable material caused by Schliemann’s inexperience and haste hindered the progress of modern archaeology, limiting future professional scholars from the resources to study ancient Greece. Furthermore, Schliemann’s recklessness and lack of conscience damaged the reputation of international archaeologists in Turkey. Although the Turkish government disapproved of Schliemann for excavating Hissarlik, he cheated to get his way and dug in secret 《Wood, 1998, p.61》。 Without permission from the owners of the property, Schliemann instructed his workers to dig a trench through their hill 《Etienne, R. & F., 1992,
p.146》。 Despite the direct warnings from the Turkish authorities, Schliemann still smuggled Trojan treasures to Athens. As a result, Schliemann’s atrocities, especially his theft of Trojan Treasures, infuriated the Turkish government and, at the same time gave foreign archaeologists a bad reputation in Turkey. This shows that Schliemann’s obsession with Troy completely took over his mind. Schliemann paid no regard for law; he cheated the Turkish government to get his way, shipping Trojan treasures out of Turkey. He was not even concerned about damaging the private property of others as long as he could excavate the treasures he wanted. Not surprisingly, Schliemann is often depicted as a man of deceit and lies in archaeological books.
However, Schliemann should not be judged solely by his damage. His contribution to modern archaeology has had immense positives effects, which have overshadowed his
destruction. Schliemann’s extraordinary discovery of Troy and its precious artifacts revolutionized our knowledge of prehistoric civilization and Greek mythology. Before his
sensational find, the modern world had considered Troy a pure myth in Homer’s epics. To many serious scholars, this legendary city seemed nothing more than a beautiful tale with no foundation in reality. The general populace had no idea about ancient Greek life before the classical period. With a wealth of sculptures and potteries uncovered by Schliemann, the world began to appreciate the fact that Homer’s epic poem was not only a fascinating story, but also reflected
historical events of that time. Schliemann revealed life in ancient Greece to the general audience and the academic world with treasures he excavated: gold and bronze cups, head bags,
golden funerary masks and goblets 《Etienne, R. & F., 1992, p.111》。 Schliemann’s discovery of
Troy transformed people’s thinking about Aegean civilization. At the same time, the buried artifacts he uncovered provided abundant resources for archaeologists to study the past of ancient Greece. 4
In addition, Schliemann’s efforts to popularize Aegean civilization also had a significant impact on the development of modern archaeology. After his outstanding discovery of Troy, Mycenae and Tiryns, Schliemann decided to devote himself to the popularization of Archaeology. Eager to get ancient Greece known around the world, Schliemann gave public lectures on Greek culture, organized exhibitions of Trojan artifacts, and published two books about his excavation in every European language 《Etienne, R. & F., 1992, p.112》。 He even succeeded in inviting the British prime minister to write a preface to his masterpiece about Mycenae 《Etienne, R. & F., 1992, p.112》。 Since then, more organizations have begun to fund
archaeologists for their excavations in Troy. The mythology of ancient Greece and the truths that lie behind them “became the subject of dinner-table conversation across the western world" 《Damen, 2012》。 Furthermore, Schliemann’s discovery inspired other scholars to accomplish sensational discoveries. Guided by Schliemann’s discovery, Arthur Evans, an
outstanding archaeologist, uncovered the remains of Minoan civilization. This shows that Schliemann’s dedication to popularizing ancient Greece stimulated academic interest in the field of archaeology. By applying Schliemann’s way of studying myths to their research, modern scholars have contributed more to the demystification of Aegean civilization. Thus, the work of Schliemann not only revealed a picture of an ancient civilization, but also opened the door for the development of archaeology.
With enormous enthusiasm for Troy ever since his childhood, Schliemann devoted himself to archaeology. His lofty ideals of finding Troy motivated him to carry on excavation, regardless of any difficulty. Granted, his crude and unscrupulous
techniques of excavation caused irreparable damage, but we cannot ignore the contribution Schliemann made to archaeology. Without Schliemann, Troy would be just another desolate mound. Without Schliemann, we would not have known the culture and tradition in prehistoric Greece. Schliemann not only inspires future archaeologists to carry out their academic research, but also spread a sense of how myth can be related to
archaeology. Since Schliemann’s discovery of Troy,archaeology has gone beyond the scientific field; it has been a new area in which history could be written as a
romantic and mythological past. A pioneer in archaeology, Heinrich
Schliemann will be long remembered for his contribution to Aegean civilization.
Damen, M. 《2012》。 Section 4: Troy and Schliemann. Retrieved from
Deuel, L. 《1961》。 The Treasures of Time: Firsthand Accounts by Famous Archaeologists of Their
Work in the Near East 《1sted.》。 Cleveland, Ohio & New York, NY: The World Publishing Company
Etienne, F., & Etienne, R. 《1992》。 The Search for Ancient Greece 《1sted》。 New York, NY:
Harry N. Abrams, INC., Publishers.
Lively, L. 《2006》。 Troy: Yesterday’s Lost City. Retrieved from
http://www.lagrange.edu/resources/pdf/citations/history/Troy.pdf Wood, M. 《1998》。 In Search of the Trojan War 《2nd
ed》。 Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles, California.
[高中1年级] 字数：9505 投稿日期：2013-11-4 20:57:00