Lost and Found: The 9,000 Treasures of Troy - Heinrich Schliemann and the Gold That Got Awayby Caroline Moorehead
One of the enduring stories of the last century is the astounding 1873 discovery by the first modern archaeologist, Heinrich Schliemann, of the lost gold of Priam, king of ancient Troy. With the biographical skill that drew such praise for her book Bertrand Russell, Caroline Moorehead explores Schliemann's extraordinary life and how he contrived to smuggle the nine… See more details below
One of the enduring stories of the last century is the astounding 1873 discovery by the first modern archaeologist, Heinrich Schliemann, of the lost gold of Priam, king of ancient Troy. With the biographical skill that drew such praise for her book Bertrand Russell, Caroline Moorehead explores Schliemann's extraordinary life and how he contrived to smuggle the nine thousand gold chains, elaborate silver pictures, gold coins, and other amazing artifacts from his dig in Asia Minor to his government in Berlin. Schliemann's treasures of Troy, lost when pillaged by the Nazis during World War II, received front-page coverage in 1993 when they were revealed to be residing in Moscow, having been looted in 1945 by the Russians. Here is the account, thrilling to historians, Russia-watchers, and anyone intrigued by an investigation, of how Moorehead found her way past bureaucratic defenses to learn the whereabouts of and the truth about this legendary collection.
Both Schliemann's scholarly reputation as an archaeologist of the Mycenaean period and his legendary status as the discoverer of Homer's Troy have come under recent attack, just as his initial claims caused both furor and admiration. Although David Traill's iconoclastic biography, Schliemann of Troy (1996), meticulously sifted through his life to lay bare his misrepresentations and outright frauds, Moorehead is a steadfast, enthusiastic partisan. She grudgingly adds a few warts but does not dwell on them. Her loyalty is still to the legend of the grocer's-apprentice-turned- millionaire and self-made archaeologist who went in search of Troy. Although she notes his workaholic egomania, squabbles with colleagues, self-promoting reports, doctored journals, smuggling, and overimaginative and untrustworthy accounts of some of his findings, she glosses over them as venal sins in light of his groundbreaking work, not to mention the gold and silver artifacts he romantically attributed to Homeric heroes. Although by modern standards his methodology was mendacious and his digging technique more like strip-mining, there is no denying what his second wife and on-site helpmeet called his "truffle-dog instincts." In a sensational and historically ironic pendant, Moorehead's investigation into the whereabouts of these treasures picks up with WW II, when the Berlin collection was looted by Soviet troops in retribution for the Nazis' cultural vandalism, and closes with the treasures' rediscovery by two Soviet art historians in 1990, to the embarrassment of the Minstry of Culture. (The treasures are currently on exhibit in Moscow.)
In a fair trade-off for a good read, Moorehead bypasses recent unearthings of Schliemann's flaws in favor of a celebration of his inspiring achievements and a retracing of the convoluted trail of his legacy to the present day.
- Penguin Publishing Group
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- 6.28(w) x 9.22(h) x 1.07(d)
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