Erich Lessing

Agamemnon’s tomb? In 1871, Heinrich Schliemann announced that he had found the Troy of the Iliad. He then uncovered an ancient city and found a cache of gold jewelry he called the Treasure of Priam. In fact, this city was more than 1,200 years older than the late Bronze Age city associated with Homer’s Troy. Schliemann also scoured Greece, searching for the cities of Homer’s kings. In 1876, at Mycenae, Schliemann discovered a walled citadel, which he identified as the fortress of Homer’s King Agamemnon. Within the walls of the citadel, Schliemann uncovered a large grave circle (shown here) with six burial shafts (a seventh shaft was found in later excavations). In shaft V, Schliemann found three male corpses, one of which wore the hammered-gold mask on this issue’s cover. As the mask was removed, the skull crumbled away. Schliemann identified this mask as the Mask of Agamemnon—a name it has since retained, even though the mask was made more than 300 years before an Agamemnon who fought at Troy could have lived.