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When Heinrich began digging at Hissarlik, he had very little idea what he was doing. He knew that he wanted to dig into the mound and find a city of the Bronze Age, but he didn't know what a Bronze Age city would look like. His guide was Homer — he was looking for artifacts and architecture that matched the descriptions in Homer's poetry. This was not a scientific approach.
The thrust of his plan was to dig — deep. At the top of the mound, he expected to find a Roman city, then a Greek city underneath, then a Greek city from the time of Homer, and, just below that, the walled city of The Iliad. Instead of carefully sifting through the mound, layer by layer, he decided to dig out vast trenches — rather as if he were removing slices from a cake. Since Homer's Troy was ancient, Heinrich expected to find it near the bottom.
And so he dug, violently and impatiently. Frank Calvert advised him to proceed with care, to sift through what he was throwing away, but Heinrich was not a cautious man. He whacked away at the mound as if it were a piñata.
Modern archaeologists do not dig like this. They remove the earth gently and keep detailed records of what they find. If they find an artifact that isn't what they're hoping to find, they don't discard the artifact: they change their ideas. Instead of looking for something, they look carefully at whatever comes to light. Heinrich, of course, was looking for Homer's Troy. "Troy . . . was sacked twice," modern archaeologists remark, "once by the Greeks and once by Heinrich Schliemann."
THE HERO SCHLIEMANN: THE DREAMER WHO DUG FOR TROY by Laura Amy Schlitz, illustrated by Robert Byrd. Text copyright (c) 2006 by Laura Amy Schlitz. Published by Candlewick Press, Inc., Cambridge, MA.