SCHLIEMANN, HEINRICH

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SCHLIEMANN, HEINRICH - Schliemann, Troy's Discoverer, Sends Antiquities from Athens and Meets Bismarck
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SCHLIEMANN, HEINRICH - Schliemann, Troy's Discoverer, Sends Antiquities from Athens and Meets Bismarck

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SCHLIEMANN, HEINRICH. (1822-1890). German-born archeologist who discovered the city of Troy. ALS. (“Hch. Schliemann”). 1p. 8vo. Berlin, July 17, 1889. To his half brother ERNST SCHLIEMANN (1841-1899). In German with translation.

 

“Thank you very much for the letter from brother-in-law Kuhse. I sent antiquities from Athens in a well-preserved leather suitcase, which I don’t need. If you have a use for it, take it. You can also keep the contents. Maybe you’ll take a look at it first and see if you like it. I believe I will see Count Bismarck today and then take off immediately for Hannover, where I have work to do. With best wishes for well-being of you and your family…”

 

Schliemann’s early financial successes afforded him the opportunity to retire at the age of 36 and pursue his life-long passion for archeology. His ambition to find Troy, the site of Homer’s epic poems, took him to Greece in 1868, and resulted in his book Ithaca, the Peloponnese, and Troy, which argued that Troy and the burial site of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra were in a large mound in Asia Minor called Hisarlik. In 1871, Schliemann, along with his young Greek bride, Sophia, set out to prove his theory and began to excavate the site. Two years later Schliemann, as he predicted, found fortifications and the remains of a large city. He also discovered a substantial cache of golden jewelry that he dubbed Priam’s Treasure, and smuggled it into Turkey. After the dig at Hisarlik, Schliemann, along with his colleague, architect Wilhelm Dörpfeld, excavated sites at Mycenae and Tiryns. Although scholars accepted Schliemann’s work after English Prime Minister William Gladstone, a classical scholar in his own right, lent his support, there was some lingering skepticism. While Schliemann unearthed many significant archeological sites, his propensity to bend the truth to suit his theories cast suspicion on his findings and modern archeology shows that Schliemann’s excavations were incorrectly dated. Similarly it is now believed that Priam’s Treasure was from a civilization roughly 1000 years older than Homeric Troy. But “for all his character flaws and sloppy science, Schliemann still unearthed one of the richest archeological troves ever found,” (Time, Lemonick). 

 

Bismarck and Schliemann had several contacts of an official character prior to their 1879 meeting in which Bismarck sought to get to know the archeologist personally. The German Empire’s future chancellor had an interest in and deep knowledge of antiquity, and Schliemann was impressed. But despite Bismarck’s interest, their relationship was, at times, contentious. In the late 1880s, Bismarck, then Prussia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, sought to bring Schliemann’s Trojan treasure trove to Berlin but Schliemann imposed conditions on displaying them in the Ethnological Museum, insisting “that he must have five halls specially set aside and marked for all time with the name Schliemann. In September 1888, Schliemann received a letter from Bismarck himself, announcing the transfer to the Ethnological Museum and expressing gratitude and honour to Schliemann,” (Land of Lost Gods: The Search for Classical Greece, Richard Stoneman).

 

Our letter mentions Dillenburg professor Wilhelm Kuhse (1822-1892) who married Schliemann’s sister Wilhelmine in 1840.

 

Framed with a portrait. Folded with some light creasing. Not examined out of the frame.

 


This autograph will be auctioned live on May 23, 2018. For more information and to place your bid click the "BID NOW!" button above.
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