In 1823, when Heinrich Schliemann was one year old, his father became pastor of the tiny village of Ankershagen, in the north German region of Mecklenburg. Here the world-famous archaeologist spent his childhood.

There is an intimate connection between Ankershagen and the course of Schliemann’s life. The gently rolling landscape surrounding the Havel River—with its Bronze Age burial mounds and medieval robber-baron castle—stirred the boy’s imagination. “The pickax and spade for the excavation of Troy and the royal tombs of Mycenae,” Schliemann wrote in his autobiography, were “forged and sharpened in the little German village in which I passed eight years of my earliest childhood.” Here, he tells us, he decided that one day he would excavate Troy.

The Schliemann family home is a half-timbered house built in the mid-18th century. In 1980 the site was officially named the Heinrich Schliemann Gedenkstätte (memorial); six years later it became a museum and research center—the first museum anywhere devoted to Schliemann’s memory. Later designated a national cultural property, the house was renovated in 1996–1997—with a new permanent exhibition opening last September. Visitors can now see, for the first time, the bedroom Schliemann slept in as a child.

Although the exhibition covers the full arc of Schliemann’s adventure-filled life, special emphasis is given to his excavations. On display are pottery from Schliemann’s excavations at Troy (on loan from the Museum für Vor- and Frühgeschichte in Berlin) and copies of gold and silver finds from Priam’s Treasure and the shaft graves of Mycenae, including a copy of the Mask of Agamemnon (see the cover of Archaeology Odyssey, Premiere Issue 1998).

Three-dimensional models of Schliemann’s excavations in Turkey and Greece provide vivid images of the palaces of Troy, Mycenae and Tiryns. A diorama featuring model soldiers depicts the last struggle for Troy after its capture by the Greeks.

Among other things, the museum’s exhibits document Schliemann’s two trips to America. Schliemann first visited the United States in 1851, when he was in his late twenties. A year later, he opened a bank in Sacramento to buy gold dust from miners, and he then began to invest heavily in American railroads. On his second trip, in 1869, Schliemann became an American citizen in New York, then promptly traveled to Indianapolis to divorce his first, Russian, wife. Other exhibits portray Schliemann’s later years in Athens, where he lived in an elaborate mansion with his Greek wife, Sophia—and where he is buried in a splendid mausoleum.

An entire room is devoted to the controversies surrounding Schliemann’s life and work—especially the questions that have arisen in the last few decades concerning his excavation techniques and his handling of the treasures he found.

Ankershagen lies on the edge of the Müritz National Park, a protected area of forests and lakes. Visitors can explore the region’s natural beauty on foot or by bike, often traveling along paths Schliemann himself took. Across the street from the Schliemann museum is the charming 13th-century stone church where Schliemann’s father preached. His mother’s grave is in the churchyard.

The museum is supported by the non-profit Heinrich Schliemann Society of Ankershagen, which has about 200 members in ten different countries. Through lectures, publications and tours, the society seeks to provide a comprehensive assessment of Schliemann’s life and work—along with an accurate picture of his multifaceted, sometimes contradictory personality—and to make this information accessible to the general public. The museum publishes a bulletin, Mitteilungen aus dem Heinrich-Schliemann-Museum Ankershagen, and is building a Schliemann archive, which includes publications by and about Schliemann, correspondence, various documents, photographs and memorabilia.

Contact the Heinrich-Schliemann Museum, Lindenallee 1, D-17219 Ankershagen, Germany. Tel: 011–49-39921–3252. Fax: 011–49-39921–3212. Web site: