The Search for The Lost City of Troy's Golden Treasure

The legendary city of Troy was once considered a myth similar to the lost city of Atlantis. However one man believed that it was more than a myth. Schliemann discovered the lost city of Troy and its treasure. The legendary city of Troy still exists however the treasure that was discovered has gone missing by the plunder of the Nazis during WWII.


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The Search for The Lost City of Troy's Golden Treasure

By 800 B.C., the Greeks had two heroic poems, the Iliad and the Odyssey, both accredited to Homer, about whom little is known. Some believe that Homer did not author the poems, but merely collected them into the two works, with a multitude of people actually having written them. The Iliad tells of the Trojan War's origin. According to the ancient version, Helen was regarded as the most beautiful of women in the World, and Paris, son of Priam (king of Troy) became infatuated with her. The fact that she was married to Menelaus, king of Sparta, did not keep Paris from seducing her and running away with her to Troy.

trojan horse of the trojan war and the treasure of troyEnraged, Menelaus went to war against Troy, and the Greek troops under Agamemnon--Menelaus' brother-- besieged the city of Troy for ten years. Eventually, after the long siege, Troy was captured by the famous ruse of the wooden horse...and put to the sword. The great horse, you will remember, was left as a gift to the Trojan defenders, but its interior was hollow and filled with Greek soldiers who, during the night, opened the city gates to allow the Greek army to surge into the now lost city. Thus, the old saying, "Beware of Greeks bearing gifts".

THE QUEST

The story of the wooden horse may not be true, but the rich city of Troy fell nevertheless. Its location was lost in the dust of time until Heinrich Schliemann undertook the task of finding the ancient city and uncovering its long lost treasures. Schliemann was born in a small German village in 1822. He was often regaled with the story of Troy by his father, and eventually the young boy decided that some day he would find the lost city himself.

Heinrich became an office boy in Amsterdam. Here, with lots of time on his hands, he was able to teach himself French, Italian, English, Dutch, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Greek, and Latin. His talent for languages helped him to become a success in business, and by the age of twenty-five he formed his own import-export business. By 1863 he had earned enough money to last him several lifetimes. Now he could finally search for Troy.

gold diadem with gold pendants from the treasures of troyScholars and historians believed that if Troy really did exist, its location must have been near the little village of Bunarbashi in Turkey. Schliemann, however, concluded that this was certainly not the site of ancient Troy, and his survey of the area proved him correct. His conclusion was also substantiated by an 1864 Austrian excavation of the site, which yielded absolutely nothing. Furthermore, this location did not match Homer's description of Troy, which by the way, Schliemann accepted as the gospel truth. Some miles north of Bunarbashi there was a site called Hissarlik, which matched exactly with Homer's description, except for the absence of fresh water springs. This, Schliemann believed, was Troy. The springs, he correctly reasoned, had dried up over the centuries. Here his greatest dig would take place.

THE DIG

In April 1870, with over 100 workers at his disposal, the great excavation of ancient Troy began. The site was like an immense onion, with multitudes of layers of habitation that had to be striped away and examined one at a time. Almost immediately he found weapons, vases, pottery, ornaments, and other overwhelming evidence of the sheer antiquity of the site and the rich civilizations that had occupied this location. One by one, he exposed ancient layers, tearing down walls and realizing that each stratum had been inhabited at a different time period. Not one, but nine cities had lived and died on the hill of Hissarlik, each built up to eventually fall to its destruction. Fires raged here when conquering swords dripped red with blood as each city was sacked and fell to the invaders...with each civilization supplanting an earlier one....and each city being built upon the charred bones of its predecessor.

No longer was the world laughing at the eccentric visionary who squandered his wealth in search of legends and the proverbial goose chase. However, Schliemann hadn't won yet, as he was faced with the dilemma as to which of the nine cities was actually his ancient Troy. it was clear that the bottom layer was a prehistoric settlement at least 5,000 years old that knew nothing of metals. The uppermost was obviously the most recent, thus if Troy was built upon again as he again correctly concluded, his Homeric Troy had to be between the two...but which?

golden treasure from the city of troy by priam schliemanIn the second stratum from the bottom, Schliemann discovered traces of fire, the remains of massive walls, and a huge gate. This had to be the heavily fortified and impregnable Troy. On June 14th, 1873 gold was found in a partially excavated hole. This was surely King Priam's gold--Troy's gold--buried over 3,000 years. The treasure consisted of diadems, brooches, chains, plates, buttons, wires and threads of gold, bracelets, silver vases, as well as bronze weapons, copper vessels, and an incredible number of other priceless items. the treasure was quickly and quietly moved out of Turkey into Greece and eventually to Germany.

TREASURE LOST--TREASURE FOUND

During World War II the immense treasure disappeared from a bunker under the Zoological Gardens as Soviet troops swept over Germany. Its whereabouts were unknown for years, until the fragmentation of the U.S.S.R. when the members of the government admitted that the treasure was captured and brought back by returning troops. Now we know that the treasure was not that of Priam, Troy's king but that of a king who predated the Homeric city of Troy by a thousand years. In fact, Troy was not the second layer from the bottom, but it had been much closer to the surface in what was later termed Layer Vii. Studies later confirmed that this level was destroyed about 2000 B.C., which also agrees with Homer's date of 1185 B.C. as to the fall of Troy.

Schliemann, after his worldwide triumph over the discovery of Troy, turned his attention to Mycenae, the great Greek city that Agamemnon left as he lead his army to besiege Troy. Schliemann's enemies called him a lunatic, his friends a genius. But his accomplishments are still envied by treasure hunters and archaeologists.

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