Harper's New Monthly Magazine,  7 (1883–84), 898–904.

Dr. Schliemann: His Life and Work

J P Mahaffy


Essay, Biography


Archaeology, Human Species, Prehistory, Amateurism, Disciplinarity, Railways, Fieldwork, Theory, Controversy, Comparative Philology

People mentioned:

Rudolf C Virchow , Strabo

Publications cited:

Schliemann 1884

    Insists that 'Archæology is a special study, infested no doubt by amateurs, but requiring honest and serious attention', and suggests that as such 'we must not enter into learned discussions in this paper' (900). Observes that Heinrich Schliemann's main purpose in life has been to 'investigate prehistoric antiquity' (901), and he has recently investigated, in the Greek region of Troad, a 'great series of human traces, reaching from the most remote antiquity into the decline of the Roman Empire'. Considers the remains of a town which existed 'at least six centuries before Christ', and speculates, 'If, then, the remains of such antiquity reach down only to six feet under-ground, what shall we say of the antiquity of the older settlements, which are to be traced down to fifty-two feet under the present level? The mind recoils somewhat aghast from so gigantic a computation. But the character of these older remains corroborates our conclusion. They all bear a distinctly prehistoric character'. (899) Notes that 'From sections of hills made by railways we might, indeed, as we have done, make important prehistoric discoveries', and also claims that 'a noble end it is to inquire into the rudest remains of long-departed races, and to inquire not by theory and conjecture, but by an examination of actual facts' (903). Indeed, although Schliemann's 'discoveries have [...] given rise to many controversies, they are controversies about the interpretation of facts, not about the respective probability of rival theories'. Bemoans the 'invasion of philology by self-taught and unceremonious inquirers', but reports that lately Schliemann's principal 'enemies, the pedants, have been discomfited and brought to confusion. The ablest and most learned of them, Dr. Brentano, has lately committed suicide, and if his English disciple has not gone so far as to copy him literally in this, he has at least gone as far as charitable adversaries can desire in committing archæological suicide, by maintaining theories which blot him out from the number even of incipient students in that science' (904).

© Science in the Nineteenth-Century Periodical Project, Universities of Leeds and Sheffield, 2005 - 2020

Printed from Science in the Nineteenth-Century Periodical: An Electronic Index, v. 4.0, The Digital Humanities Institute <http://www.sciper.org> [accessed ]