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Assess the significance of Schliemann's excavation at

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Introduction

Assess the significance of Schliemann's excavation at Troy upon the development of Ancient History Johann Ludwig Heinrich Julius Schliemann's ability to challenge academic establishment make him an appealing yet dubious character. The German's late nineteenth century excavations of Truva are often considered to have shed new light on ancient history or 'undoubtedly destroyed a great deal of archaeological data that will forever be lost1. Despite the praise and glorification that surrounds the romantic stems of Schliemann's work; his excavations have proved limited to the evolution of archaeology and ancient history. However some of Schliemann's methodologies have often been considered significant in context to the evolution of both fields. His 'great desire to affirm his hypotheses2' has lead to important ancient historical data such as demonstrating Greek civilisation had commenced approximately one thousand years earlier then previous scholars estimated. Yet Schliemann's excavations of Hissarlik are not completely revolutionary to the development of ancient history despite the modernisation of his primitive archaeological techniques and his ability to incorporate mythology in interpreting and formulating ancient history, while several contemporaries dismissed its credibility. ...read more.

Middle

Historian and critic of Schliemann, David A. Traill comments on the importance of the excavations, 'his (Schliemann's) excavations, particularly those at Troy...opened up...whole new worlds of archaeology.' Schliemann's excavations (1870-1890) have uncovered the walls, gates and foundations of Troy, as well as the ill-identified 'Priam's Treasure.' These pioneering discoveries serve as a launching pad for ancient history, providing Schliemann and ancient history with the knowledge of a Bronze Age civilisation earlier than Mycenae. A civilization, previously never known by scholars to have existed. Further work on Schliemann's finds by modern archaeaologists has lead to continuing investigations into pre-classical Greece (6th - 1st century BC). 'That Hissarlik was more likely than Pinarbarsi, lead him to excavate Mycenae in 1876 and discover the previously unknown Mycenaean civilization, and lead him to perform a second more refined set of excavations at Hissarlik.'4 Without this knowledge of Mycenaean civilization, almost two thousand years (3000-1100 BC) of classical Greek history would be omitted. 'Because of the importance of the sites he excavated and the extraordinary wealth of finds they produced, Schliemann's work remains a cornerstone of classical archaeology.'5 The German's ability to acknowledge oral history and mythology as valuable to the creation of historical data is significant and perhaps revolutionary. ...read more.

Conclusion

The accuracy of his excavation reports can...be questioned, most seriously with regard to Troy. The account of how he came to identify Hissarlik as the site of Homer's Troy...is dishonest.'6 However the doubts over the reliability of his archaeological records, may have contributed to the stricter and more disciplined standards maintained in publishing archaeological findings. In the development of ancient history as a discipline, Schliemann has provided a significant contribution. In conclusion, opinion is divided in archaeological circles over Heinrich Schliemann's significance to the development of ancient history. 'He was one of the great pioneers of modern archaeology, and (there are) those who brand him as a liar and a criminal.'7 Despite scholarly reaction being divided, Schliemann's successful yet crude techniques are significant yet not revolutionary; Schliemann's discovery of an unknown civilization did contribute to the broadening of ancient history; his ability to see the great value of oral history and mythology brought significant development to historical methodologies and Schliemann's flawed yet revealing archaeological techniques have allowed archaeology to improve, in learning from its errors. However 'Schliemann was amongst the first to use archaeology as a means of solving historical problems rather than as a way of accumulating works of art...(and) opened up, as he claimed, whole new worlds for archaeology. ...read more.

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