Wednesday, October 14, 2009

In Search Of.....Troy

As I've mentioned here before, when I grew up as a kid in the 1970s I was a big fan of the television series, "In Search of....." hosted by Leonard Nimoy. Each half hour episode investigated a different paranormal or pseudoscientific phenomenon, like UFOs or Bigfoot, treating each subject in a more serious and scholarly way than had been done up to that time. A&E and The History Channel re-ran the series for a while about 10 years ago or so. But it's otherwise been unavailable for over 25 years since it went off the air. As a result, I've enjoyed periodically re-watching some of the episodes that have now been posted on You Tube, and lovingly critiquing, with the benefit of 30 years of hindsight, some of the assertions made and explanations proffered.

This morning I was watching an episode on Heinrich Schliemann's discovery of the lost city of Troy in northwest Turkey in the 1870s. Part 2 (of 3) of this episode is embedded below. It was the cache of thousands of exquisite golden artifacts that Schliemann also found there that seemed to validate the site as the "Troy" from Homer's "Iliad." Schliemann later illegally smuggled most of the treasure back to his native Germany, from which it disappeared during the chaos in Berlin at the end of World War II. Near the end of this 10 minute clip, Leonard Nimoy notes that it is probably just as well that, "Schliemann didn't live to see the day that the prize he struggled so hard to win would vanish again without a trace." Nimoy further suggests that, "Someone may have hidden it from the bombardment, then died without revealing the secret of its location. It's possible the Nazis stole it, for their own use in the headlong flight from the advancing Allies. No one really knows."
As it turns out, this "In Search of..." mystery was solved just 15 years after this episode first aired in March 1978. Despite repeated denials by the Soviets during the Cold War, in August 1993 the Russian Minister of Culture made the astonishing announcement that the treasure had been hidden in a secret depot in Moscow for decades since the war and was now in the Pushkin Museum.

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