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Finding the Walls of Troy

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Susan Heuck Allen. 1998. Finding the Walls of Troy. University of California Press.
Frank Calvert was an archaeology nerd. That's the only satisfactory explanation of his identification of the archaeological site of Hisarlik in Turkey with the Homeric city of Troy.

In a new book entitled Finding the Walls of Troy, Susan Heuck Allen describes the relationship between Calvert and Heinrich Schliemann, who is broadly credited with the discovery of Troy, as symbiotic, nearly parasitic on both sides. Calvert, the unmarried son and brother of British diplomats living in Turkey, spent most of his life investigating the ruins of the Troad, examining artifacts, excavating test trenches, reading and rereading the literature. When Calvert was ready to begin full excavations at Hisarlik, convinced that he had identified Homer's Troy, a family scandal depleted what financial resources he had and severely restricted the political clout required to obtain excavation permits.
And he was a nerd. Quiet, unassuming, living in Turkey during the mid 19th century far from Berlin and London, Calvert had acquaintances but no friends among the archaeologists of the day. Schliemann, by contrast, was loud and brash, scheming, ebullient, manipulative, able to easily engender money by legal and illegal methods, thrice-married and far enough from his family roots to let him fabricate new ones.

I expected to find this book an exposure of Schliemann as a fraud and Calvert as the victim of his endless con games--and to an extent, that's true. But Allen describes the relationship between these two disparate men as not spider and fly, but rather as two men hopelessly bound together by the need to find out about Troy. By tricks and strategems, Schliemann cheated Calvert out of most of the rewards for Calvert's scholarship, yes; but at the same time Schliemann was unable to do the work without Calvert's input, and eventually, months before his death, Schliemann discovered that he'd destroyed much of what he and Calvert so badly needed to find.
Allen's book is illuminating on several levels, and well worth the time and effort. With over 120 pages of endnotes and bibliography, this book is intended for academics and fans of Troy and its discoverers.

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