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Monday, May 20, 2013

“Finding the Walls of Troy: Frank Calvert and Heinrich Schliemann at Hisarlik”, by Susan Heuck Allen

486 pages, University of California Press, ISBN-13: 978-0520208681

The excavation of Troy has always been considered an extremely important event in the history of archaeology, due to the fact that very existence of Troy was considered a myth birthed by Homer. In Finding the Walls of Troy: Frank Calvert and Heinrich Schliemann at Hisarlik Susan Heuck Allen shows how the eccentric, business man/archaeologist, Heinrich Schliemann proved this myth to be reality as she explores all aspects of the modern discovery of Troy by explaining how valuable the input of English diplomat, Frank Calvert, was in Schliemann’s announcement to the world he had found the supposed mythological Homeric Troy. This book is not only excellently referenced but holds the extra quality of being able to tie the current events of 19th Century Asian Minor politics to the fascinating story of how Heinrich Schliemann basically cheated Frank Calvert out of the credit he deserved in Troy's discovery.

While Schliemann's putative work is well-known, Calvert's role therein has not been as readily available until now in this excellent book that carefully addresses that lacuna. Assiduously researching Calvert family connections and Frank Calvert's overlooked precedents, Allen has unearthed enough detail to show Schliemann in a different light. In some ways still a giant (he conducted important pioneering archaeological work at Mycenae and elsewhere), Schliemann is not completely tarnished, since he did return Troy to the world's attention as a real place, not just myth alongside Homeric poetic epic. But it is important to underscore Allen's finding that Calvert – not Schliemann – was the first to dig at Hisarlik (Troy). Here history and good sleuthing reveal Schliemann is still valuable for formative Troy research and archaeological history, although Calvert deserves far more credit than previously given. This informative book will help in resolving that difficult problem.

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