One of the enduring mysteries of the last century is the astounding 1873 discovery by the first modern archaeological, Heinrich Schliemann, of the lost gold of Priam, king of ancient Troy. In this book, journalist and biographer Caroline Moorehead explores Schliemann's extraordinary life and tells how he contrived to smuggle part of the treasure from his dig in Asia Minor to his government in Berlin. of photos.
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One of the real larger-than-life characters of the 19th century, Heinrich Schliemann made his fortune in the Russian indigo trade and the California gold rush. He achieved his fame by uncovering the cities Troy and Mycenae. And if it wasn't the Troy of the Trojan War or the Mycenae of Agamemnon, as Schliemann claimed, the value of his discovery, in terms of archeology and pure treasure, is still indisputable. Like Schliemann of Troy by David Traill, Caroline Moorehead uncovers Schliemann's arrogance and his propensity to exaggerate, if not lie outright. But she's not so focused on his faults that she's blind to his strengths.From Kirkus Reviews:
British writer Moorehead (Bertrand Russell, 1993, etc.) rounds out her sympathetic treatment of Heinrich Schliemann with the events leading to the recent rediscovery in Moscow of the Trojan treasures he unearthed. 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. (16 pages b&w photos, not seen) -- Copyright ©1996, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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