Adventurer. Born to Protestant Minister, Ernst and his wife Luise Therese Sophie Schliemann in Neu Buckow, Mecklenburg-Schwerin, Germany, he attended the prestigious Gymnasium at Neu Strelitz concentrating on a classical education. He left school by 1836, however, when his father was accused of embezzling church funds and was unable to pay for further school. He took employment as a grocer in Furstenburg. Despising the job, he left in 1842, and found employment in Prussia with the F.C. Quien counting house during which time he taught himself half a dozen languages. He moved to California in pursuit of wealth in 1851 and set himself up as a buyer of gold-dust. In 1852 he married Ekaterina Lishin, the niece of a wealthy friend. The marriage was unhappy but produced three children before ending in divorce. He traveled to Russia and cornered the indigo market there, during which time he also learned ancient and modern Greek and apparently became obsessed with classical Greek literature. He traveled extensively, visiting India, Singapore, Java, China, Japan, Nicaragua, Cuba, Mexico, and France before returning to America in order to apply for citizenship. Using the "Odyssey" and the "Iliad" as guides, he traveled to Greece in 1868 determined to use archaeology to trace and confirm both tales. His methods were destructive and his main pursuit was the quest for gold rather than information. His first foray on Ithaca uncovered some 20 urns filled with ash that Schliemann was certain were human remains. That August he set out to find the ancient city of Troy. He married Sophia Engastromenos that year who was chosen as his bride by a friend who was asked to find him a poor, beautiful, well-educated Greek woman who was interested in Homer. He began his excavations on Hissarlik Hill, assuring to the Turkish government that they would receive half of all artifacts recovered. In 1872 he uncovered a Ptolemaic period relief of Apollo and the sun. Despite his promises, he smuggled the piece out of Turkey, and put it on display in his garden. In May 1873 he found two gate posts he dubbed the Scaean Gates, and the foundation behind them Priam's Palace. He finally uncovered the desired treasure near the Scaean Gates, and hoping to keep his find secret, released his crew while he and his wife quietly excavated the hoard themselves. Including objects of silver, copper, and gold, in both jewelry and weaponry, he smuggled what he termed Priam's Gold off the site in May 1873. When his treacherous activities were discovered, the Ottoman government demanded the immediate return of all artifacts. Schliemann refused, offering the treasures to the Greeks if they would permit him to excavate at Mycenae. They agreed on condition that officials from the Greek Archaeological Society would work with him. In August 1876 he started digging near the so called Lion Gate at Mycenae where he was convinced he discovered the grave of Agamemnon. In July 1878, he left Mycenae for a return to Ithaca where a lack of gold encouraged his return to Hissarlik Hill. In 1878, he found a small cache of gold and silver earrings, rings, bracelets, and gold beads, but was prevented from making off with the horde entirely. Able to keep only one-third of his find, the Imperial Museum at Constantinople claimed the rest. He wrote about his excavations at Hissarlik in 'Ilios' published in 1880. In May 1881 he returned to Hissarlik for the last time. He also dug the mound at Marathon, at Nauplia, and a citadel at Tiryns in 1884, at Aphrodite's temple on Cythera, and on the island of Sphacteria in 1888 all on a continuous quest for treasure. In 1890 he submitted to an operation on chronically infected ears. Although deemed a success, he ignored doctors' advice, and left the hospital to travel to Leipzig, Berlin, and Paris. Traveling from Paris to Athens his ears apparently became re-infected and he collapsed in the Piazza della Santa Carita in Naples on Christmas Day. He died in a hotel room the following day. He was interred in an enormous mausoleum he'd had built for himself in Athens. The inscription he had recorded over the entrance read "For the Hero, Schliemann" and was accompanied by a larger than life bust of him beside an image of King Proitos and Cyclops.
Bio by: Iola