Photo by Erich Lessing

Heinrich Schliemann found this hammered-gold death mask in 1876 at Mycenae, Greece. After announcing, in 1871, that he had discovered Homer’s Troy, Schliemann scoured Greece for evidence of Homer’s kings. At Mycenae, where Homer’s Agamemnon ruled, Schliemann found a large grave circle (see photo of Agamemnon’s tomb in “Searching for the Historical Homer”) containing several burial shafts. In one shaft lay three male corpses, one of which wore this mask; when the mask was lifted from the face, the ancient skull crumbled into dust. Although Schliemann identified the mask as belonging to Homer’s Agamemnon, it dates to the 16th century B.C.–about 300 years before Late Bronze Troy was destroyed in a war that may be associated with Homer’s Trojan War.