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Controversial Archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann Set To Take His Place Within

Thursday, 08 April 2010

Original items from one of the most famous and controversial archaeologists of the 19th century are to be put on public display within the National Library of Scotland's John Murray Archive exhibition next week (Tue 13 April).


Letters penned by Heinrich Schliemann to his publisher John Murray, an annotated photograph of his famous 'Mask of Agamemnon' along with theatrical props will go on display to help bring the archaeologist's story to life.


Schliemann caused a stir in the archaeological world when he claimed that his discoveries in Mycenae in Greece and Troy in Turkey proved that Homer's tales of the Trojan wars were real.


The items within the exhibition space will help cast light on the archaeologist's state of mind around the time of his Mycenae excavations, the significance of his finds and the difficult process of the production of his book Mycenae and Tiryns (1878).


David McClay, curator of the John Murray Archive at the National Library of Scotland said: "I am sure these original items will attract a lot of interest from the public as Schliemann was a fabulous self-promoter and provoked a lot of attention, both good and bad. He is certainly one of the most exciting of the John Murray authors.


"The original letters show how demanding an author Schliemann was, he wrote to John Murray frequently, often daily, dramatically outlining the discoveries and the challenges he was up against. He regularly complained of problems with the engravings and editing, with one particular letter stating that he was 'horrorstruck at such an ignominious number of blunders on the title page'.


"The letters, along with his original annotated photograph of the 'Mask of Agamemnon' which he wrongly claimed belonged to King Agamemnon who waged war on Troy, help to capture the excitement felt at the time and in producing Mycenae and Tiryns, a beautifully constructed book with over 300 illustrations."


To coincide with Schliemann's arrival into the exhibition space, a special panel discussion is taking place on the evening of Tuesday 13 April with Schliemann biographer and critic, David Traill, participating via weblink (book online at www.nls.uk/events or call 0131 623 3918).


In addition, many of Schliemann's photographs and letters (which the Library acquired in 2008 with the support of the John R Murray Charitable Trust and are held in the John Murray Archive) will also be digitised and made available through the Library's website (http://www.nls.uk/).


The National Library of Scotland is continuing to fundraise toward the acquisition of The John Murray Archive to ensure that its thousands of authors and rare manuscripts are available for everyone to enjoy. To date, over £30million has been raised through support from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Scottish Government and philanthropic donations, with 10% of the target remaining. More information on the campaign can be found here: www.nls.uk/supportnls.



Notes to editors


  • Listings details:

Heinrich Schliemann display within the John Murray Archive Exhibition space

National Library of Scotland, George IV Bridge, Edinburgh

Opening times: Mon - Fri 10am - 8pm; Sat 10am - 5pm; Sun 2pm - 5pm

T: 0131 623 3700


Entry is free