Fron the publisher
Sophia Engastromenos, a classic Greek beauty in the tradition of Phidias's marble sculptures, was seventeen years old when an extraordinary fate overtook her.
Henry Schliemann, forty-seven, who had become an American citizen in order to secure a divorce from his Russian wife, wrote to Sophia's relative in Athens, Bishop Vimpos, asking him to find a Greek girl who could be "the hand of God on my shoulder" in his search for the anicent city of Troy and the royal tombs of Mycenae.
Henry Schliemann had made three fortunes, two in Russia, another in the California gold rush. But was he also a fool? Or worse crazy? He had determined to give the rest of his life to unearthing a Troy which scholars of the world said did not exist. He knew precisely where Troy was because Homer of the The Iliad told him where it was. The scholars maintained there never had been a Homer!
He also insisted the he knew where the royal tombs of the Mycenaean civilization were located because Pausanias, in the first guidebook about Greece, A.D. 170, told him so. Yet all of Greece knew that there were no royal tombs of Mycenae. Gold seekers, treasure hunters had been digging on the acropolis there for hundreds of years.
Archaeologists in the universities in 1870 rarley left their libraries. Henry, who had no formal education past his fourteenth year, was deternined that he and his wife-to-be would go out with picks, shovels and wheelbarrows and dig down into the earth until they found the cities which had existed as far back as 2000 B.C.
He made it plain that Sophia would excavate with him at the mouth of the Dardanelles in Turkey, and in the southern part of Greece. But what kind of marriage was she letting herself in for? Would she be wasting her one and only life following a man declared by everyone to be sunk deep in fantasy.
The adventures of Henry and Sophia are among the most dramatic and fascinating that ever happened to two human beings. There was constant danger and frustrations. Schliemann, despite his tremendous discoveries, was called every ugly word in the eighteen languages he spoke and wrote: imposter, thief, fraud, idiot, toublemaker and wastrel. But he also had defendants, chief among them his wife, Sophia, and Prime Minister William Galdstone of England.
Sophia became a trained archaeologist. She suffered from the blazing sun, the bitter cold, the chilling rain, her husband's impetuous nature and the calumny heaped upon them; but survived to go back to work the next time there was a historic site to be uncovered and great treasures to be taken from the earth.