Hero and a Fraud: an Archeologist Who Discovered the Site of Troy

Many people who are interested in archeology would have already heard about Heinrich Schliemann and Sir Arthur Evans, who were both prominent archeologists. They both were fascinated in researching historical sites for excavations and collecting antiquities. Some of the archeologists from hundred years ago say that Heinrich Schliemann and Sir Arthur Evans were both heroes who discovered historical sites and treasures; on the other hand, more research reveals that Heinrich Schliemann should be called a fraud while Sir Arthur Evans should be called a hero. It is because, while they both achieved stupendous achievements in discovering antique artifacts, their pursuit purpose of the works, processing and behavior after discovery of the antiquities were different.

Sir Arthur Evans is an Archeologist who was born on July 8th, 1851 at a red house by Nash Mills in Hertfordshire. His father was also an archeologist who collected British coin-type antiquities therefore since Evans was young, he was exposed to the environment of European civilization and archaeology. He spent his youth collecting old coins, and various kinds of antiquities, and he used to travel widely in Europe including Greece. “He traveled to Paris, Austria, and from Agram to the Turkish town of Costainica where the villages were full of beautifully painted houses, shingled roofs, and vivid inhabitants. When he visited Greece and founds at Delphi, the familiar enchantment of mountains, flowers, ancient tradition, and eternal beauty captivated him”. After his journeys, he was fascinated by studying topographic, antiquities, and interconnecting routes along the Balkan coast in depth.

In 1881, he saw Schliemann’s discoveries for the evidence of bronze age civilization, however, he was unsatisfied but motivated from it. Evans was interested in the site of Knossos therefore, he decided to depart to Crete to excavate.  Knossos is a main bronze age historical site at Heraklion where it was far more beautiful and extensive than his expectation. While he was excavating, he was facing some difficulties due to Turkish law; however, according to Evans, in 1899, after he successfully bought the freehold of the island, he could have acquired a tremendous amount of historically important buried treasures, inscriptions, and scripts of the pre-Hellenic period. The site was a palace complex that has been partially restored under the direction of Arthur Evans. After the excavation of Knossos, he worked with Mackenzie on the southwest slope of the site. Within a couple of days, fortunately, they could discover ancient houses and fragments of frescoes. “Evans recognized it as being earlier than the Mycenaean building on the mainland. The walls showed that there was a palace which ended with the catastrophe of fire”. While he was working on the excavation, his first importance was antiquities. He always dug the sites slightly once at a time so as not to break any of the antiquities and artifacts. He was always concerned about the antiquities and researched hard for many years with recordings that led him to quickly recognize what was buried in the sites. With all these experiences, he could more precisely restore the historical sites and architectures to open a new world in archeology.

Heinrich Schliemann, an archeologist who discovered the site of Troy, is also known as a hero to some of the archeologists from hundred years ago. They believed all of the stories written in Schliemann’s writings and his achievements. However, many modern archeologists brought suspicions regarding his writings and achievements. Around a hundred years ago, many archeologists were wondering about the existence of the Troy region from the stories of the Iliad and Odyssey. Schliemann was a person who grew up listening to the story of the Iliad and Odyssey thus, he strongly believed that the Troy region actually existed. He wanted to find the site of the Troy region but he needed money to proceed with his plan. To earn money, during the Crimean war, he sold weapons to each side of the country and according to Easton, he exaggerated his degree and he did banking operations in California in 1851 which was shady and suspicious. While he was wondering where the Troy region was, he met Frank Calvert who convinced him to dig at Hissarlik. However, they could not proceed with the excavation right away because the Ottoman government did not permit them. “He illicitly proceeded the excavation in Hissarlik hill in 1870 and he got caught by the Turkish government”. therefore, he had to recover the site for a while. During his official excavation began in 1871, he brought a hundred workmen and dug massive trenches without concerning antiquities and artifacts buried in the sites. Many artifacts and antiquities such as limestones were broken during the excavation but he only focused on finding the Troy region for gold and treasures. “He paid little attention to the buildings that he thought came from the period other than that of the Trojan war”. In 1873, on May 31st, he found a chamber of 8830 precious gold, silver, and bronze objects which is called “Priam’s treasure”. But, American academics, David Traill and William Clader criticized that Schliemann’s documentation was full of lies that he added many antiquities from the other sites and they have even mentioned about him as he is a pathological liar who was “ill like an alcoholic, a child molester or a dope-fiend”. One day when he found some gold and gold jewelry from 4500years ago, he smuggled the treasure out of Turkey on June 6th, put it on his wife, and left it with a photograph which was not understandable behavior as an archeologist. Later, he recorded that he discovered these antiquities with the witness of his wife; however, modern archeologists found out that Sophia was not with him at that time; she was in Athens. After all his careless excavation, he discovered a total of nine layers of cities but many historically important antiquities were broken or missing. Schliemann thought that the Troy region would be at the bottom of the layers however, the Troy II dated to 2600-2300 BCE, evidence of early bronze age culture, was actually at the 6th and 7th layers of the site.  

Overall, the two prominent archeologists: Sir Arthur Evans and Heinrich Schliemann; one, who were motivated by the enchantment of antiquities and inhabitants, spent all his life researching, discovering, excavating, and preserve for a historical site that shows the evidence of the Early bronze age of Knossos must be called a hero while the other one, who motivated from the myth of Iliad and Odyssey, wanted to find the site of Troy for buried golds and treasures and lied about his discovered antiquities must be called a fraud.


  1. Easton, D. F. “Heinrich Schliemann: Hero or Fraud?” The Classical World, vol. 91, no. 5, 1998, pp. 335–343. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/4352102. Accessed 8 Oct. 2020.
  2. Easton, D. F. “WHEN TREASURES COME TO LIGHT: Heinrich Schliemann, Archaeologist and Photographer.” Aperture, no. 163, 2001, pp. 20–25. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/24472827. Accessed 8 Oct. 2020.
  3. Evans, Joan. “SIR ARTHUR EVANS AND KNOSSOS.” Archaeology, vol. 3, no. 3, 1950, pp. 134–139. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/41662388. Accessed 8 Oct. 2020.
24 May 2022
Your Email

By clicking “Send”, you agree to our Terms of service and  Privacy statement. We will occasionally send you account related emails.

close thanks-icon

Your essay sample has been sent.

Order now
Still can’t find what you need?

Order custom paper and save your time
for priority classes!

Order paper now