Heinrich Schliemann w poszukiwaniu pałacu Kleopatry

Joachim Śliwa


Known mainly as the discoverer of Troy, during his numerous travels Schliemann did not skip Egypt. He stayed by the Nile four times (1859, 1864, 1886/1887, 1888) visiting the most important sights with great interest and making purchases for the Berlin collection (Egyptian and Nubian pottery, ancient fabrics). His last two trips were especially important for him. During his last expedition, waiting for the arrival of Rudolph Virchow, at the beginning of February 1888 he conducted archaeological  excavations in Alexandria. His objective was to find places where Ptolemaic palaces stood. Obviously he was especially fascinated with Cleopatra VII. Already on the second day, at the depth of 12 metres (!) he found a marble head, which he declared to be Cleopatra’s portrait. The circumstances in which he made that alleged discovery suggest that it was a hoax prepared ahead. When he made his “discovery” he was alone (he employed 36 people, and he was guarded by the representatives of Antiquities Service!). He smuggled his find from Egypt and after his return to Athens deposited it in the Customs Office in order to take it to Berlin without any problems. Presently, “Cleopatra’s head”, declared by the specialists to be an image of Corinna, or rather its Roman copy from the 1st century AD, is exhibited in New Museum in Berlin. This kind of machination is nothing unexpected in Schliemann’s work. It has been proved several times that the same refers to his other “discoveries”. It was confirmed recently by inter alia William M. Calder III and David A. Traill, and in the case of the so called Cleopatra’s head and digs in Alexandria – Wolfgang Schindler.