Treasure Seekers: Glories of the Ancient Aegean

Genre: Documentary
Director(s): Ann Carroll

In the dim past of Europe,

by the shores of the Aegean Sea,

the ancient bards told stories

of a golden age long ago,

a time when men were heroes

larger than life,

when the daring Theseus

battled the Minotaur,

and soldiers clashed over the face

of the beautiful Helen

who brought down the walls of Troy.

For hundreds of generations

these tales will pass down as myths.

Then in the 19th century,

two remarkable men

dared to believe that

the myths were clues to the treasures

of a forgotten past.

Their extraordinary adventures

uncovered the roots

of Western civilization.

In the 19th century,

archeology was in its infancy.

Ancient Greece was considered

the beginning of Western civilization,

its architecture the most beautiful;

its ideas the foundation

for everything to come.

Yet its roots before the 8th century

B.C. were shrouded in mystery.

Did this extraordinary civilization

spring out of nowhere?

Or did another, almost as advanced,

come before it?

The only accounts of

an earlier age were legends

that nearly everyone dismissed

as myths.

The first grade works of

Western literature,

the Iliad and the Odyssey, were

considered fiction, nothing more.

Who could have guessed that

Homer's beloved stories

could lead the way to a real past?

In Athens today a classical temple

marks the grave of Heinrich Schliemann,

to some, the father of archeology.

To others, an impetuous fool.

To Schliemann, Homer's stories

of the Trojan War were true,

and he set out to prove it.

His incredible discoveries pushed back

European history a thousand years.

Schliemann's story

has been romanticized

in films, books, even grand opera.

But none more fantastical

than his own stories about himself.

I think he thought that

he was the center of the world.

And I think he had a kind of

medieval map of the world

in which he was at the center

and everything else

was in concentric circles around him.

I think he was

the most frightful big head.

Schliemann throughout his life was

pretty cavalier with the truth.

He, I don't think, distinguished

so clearly as most of us do

between what is true

and what is false.

He tended to tell the story

that suited the moment.

Schliemann's personal myths stretched

all the way back to his childhood.

He was born in 1822

in northeastern Germany.

At the age of 7, he tells how

his father gave him a history book

with a picture of the ancient city

of Troy in flames.

Electrified by the site,

the young Heinrich asked

what had become of the great city.

His father explained that Troy had

burned to the ground leaving no trace.

Unconvinced, Heinrich disagreed:

"Father," retorted I,

"if such worlds once existed,

they cannot have been

completely destroyed.

Vast ruins of them must still remain

hidden away beneath the dust of ages."

In the end we both agreed that

I should one day excavate Troy.

It's a wonderful story, but there's

really no reason why we need to believe it.

He tells us not a day went by

where he thought about this goal

of earning enough money

to go out and excavate Troy.

But we have thousands of letters and

many diaries when he was a young man.

There's no mention of going out

and excavating Troy.

Schliemann may have been trying to

mask the truth of a painful childhood.

His mother died young,

but not before his minister father

lost his job

by committing adultery

with the housemaid.

Schliemann had to drop out of school

to help support his brothers and sisters.

All this, I think, etched itself

deeply onto Schliemann's mind.

He was left with a bitter,

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Ann Carroll

Ann Carroll is a camogie player. twice an All Ireland inter-county medalist and the outstanding personality in the first decade of the history of the All-Ireland Senior Club Camogie Championship winning medals with both St Patrick’s, Glengoole from Tipperary and St Paul’s from Kilkenny. She played inter-county camogie for both Tipperary and Kilkenny and Interprovincial camogie for both Munster and Leinster. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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