How a self-taught archaeologist discovered the "city that does not exist"

The Iliad, a work of the ancient Greek poet Homer, describes the city of Troy, which lay on the way from Asia Minor to the Black Sea. But, for a long time, no one took this poem seriously as a serious documentary source. It was widely believed that Troy, like the Trojan War, was just a figment of the author's imagination.

At the end of the 18th century, the Frenchman Choiseul-Gufier tried to find the legendary city in northwestern Anatolia. This enterprise was not successful, but the scientist concluded that if Troy ever existed, then it should be looked for in the area of ​​the Hisarlik hill in Turkey.

A journalist from Scotland, McLaren, who visited these places in 1847, pointed to about the same place. But these were only speculations. It could be that no city of Troy existed at all. But the German self-taught archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann, a man whose life was similar to an action-packed novel, was able to find him.

Heinrich Schliemann

Heinrich was born in 1822 in the family of a poor pastor, in childhood he was an errand boy for a grocer, then he was a representative of a large Dutch company in Russia. By the way, in our country, Schliemann's career went uphill, he received good remuneration from the company's management, successfully invested in commercial enterprises, and even became a merchant of the second guild.

But, in 1850, Hermann Schliemann left Russia for the United States, where the "gold rush" broke out in the state of California. True, Schliemann himself did not wash gold with a tray in his hands, he approached the matter in more detail, opened a bank that issued loans to gold prospectors, and also bought and sold gold. Thanks to this, I was able to significantly increase my capital.

Unexpectedly for friends, Schliemann, in adulthood, quits business and enters the Sorbonne, deciding to seriously study literature. The Iliad becomes his reference book. True, Schliemann's attitude to Homer's poem was peculiar: in the text he tried to find an answer to the question - where to look for the mythical city of Troy?

In 1870, he managed to get permission from the Ottoman authorities to conduct excavations at the site of the proposed city. The people around only laughed, but Schliemann believed that the city really existed.

Fortune smiled on the archaeologist-adventurer on May 31, 1873. On this day, during the excavation of the Hisarlik hill, his expedition discovered the "treasure of King Priam", which consisted of 8833 items. The find had both scientific and material significance. The existence of the ancient city was proven, and the total value of the finds exceeded a million francs.

However, serious researchers immediately unleashed a flurry of criticism on Schliemann. He was called a swindler and a swindler. And some even argued that Schliemann had been collecting single finds for several years, but, only having collected a significant number, he passed them off as a found treasure.

After the death of Schliemann, it was established that the "treasures of Priam" actually belonged to a completely different ruler. But, this does not deny the merits of Schliemann. He proved that Homer's poems are not fairy tales. Although he was not a professional archaeologist, he made a great contribution to the study of the Aegean culture.