Frank Calvert

Frank Calvert

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Frank Calvert was an English
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 expatriate who was a consular official in the eastern Mediterranean region and an amateur archaeologist. He began exploratory excavations on the mound at Hisarlik
Hisarlik , often spelled Hissarlik, is the modern name for the site of ancient Troy, also known as Ilion, and is located in what is now Turkey...

 (the site of the ancient city of Troy
Troy was a city, both factual and legendary, located in northwest Anatolia in what is now Turkey, southeast of the Dardanelles and beside Mount Ida...

), seven years before the arrival of Heinrich Schliemann
Heinrich Schliemann
Heinrich Schliemann was a German businessman and amateur archaeologist, and an advocate of the historical reality of places mentioned in the works of Homer. Schliemann was an archaeological excavator of Troy, along with the Mycenaean sites Mycenae and Tiryns...



Frank was the youngest of seven children born to James Calvert (1778–1852), of Malta
Malta , officially known as the Republic of Malta , is a Southern European country consisting of an archipelago situated in the centre of the Mediterranean, south of Sicily, east of Tunisia and north of Libya, with Gibraltar to the west and Alexandria to the east.Malta covers just over in...

, and Louisa Ann Lander (1792–1867).

As the youngest child, Frank was overshadowed by his elder siblings and became involved with the careers of his elder, more flamboyant brothers. Frank remained unmarried; quiet and unassuming, he nevertheless had an enduring passion for the Homeric epic
Homeric epic
The Homeric epic refers to The Iliad or The Odyssey, or else to both together, a pair of epic poems written by the possibly mythical ancient Greek author Homer about the Trojan War and its aftermath. The term may also be used metaphorically to refer to any poem of great length....

s and a firm belief that the myths were history, not fiction.

As early as 1822, Hisarlik
Hisarlik , often spelled Hissarlik, is the modern name for the site of ancient Troy, also known as Ilion, and is located in what is now Turkey...

 was identified by Charles Maclaren
Charles Maclaren
Charles Maclaren was a Scottish editor born in Ormiston, Haddingtonshire, the son of a farmer and cattle-dealer. He was almost entirely self-educated, and when a young man became a clerk in Edinburgh. In 1817, with others, he established The Scotsman newspaper in Edinburgh and at first acted as...

 a s a possible site of Homeric Troy. In 1847, Frank's brother Frederick bought a farm of over 2,000 acres (8 km²) at Akca Koy which included part of Mount Hisarlik. This was to be a momentous acquisition. By 1852, Frank was helping his brothers Frederick and James in their consular duties, writing 50% of the letters in French and English generated for his brothers, which they would sign as officers.

Frank continued to support his brothers' careers. In 1855, while Frederick was completely engrossed in affairs related to the Crimean War
Crimean War
The Crimean War was a conflict fought between the Russian Empire and an alliance of the French Empire, the British Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and the Kingdom of Sardinia. The war was part of a long-running contest between the major European powers for influence over territories of the declining...

, Frank continued to produce the bulk of official consular correspondence. On occasion in 1856 and 1858, Frank stood in for Frederick as acting British consul. After standing in for his brother James, eventually Frank succeeded him as United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 consular agent in 1874, an unpaid position that he held for the rest of his life. Occasionally, he served on local mixed Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

an and Turkish
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

 tribunals, assuming from time to time the title of acting British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

Apart from performing his consular duties, Frank carried on careful, exploratory excavations on the family-owned land which incorporated the mound of Hisarlik. He was convinced that this was the site of the ancient city of Troy, but in 1908 he died and was never officially associated with the discovery of Troy. In an ironic twist of fate, descendants of the Calvert brothers are now pursuing claims to the treasure recovered from Hisarlik.

Frank Calvert and Troy

In the field of archeology, Calvert has been a mere shadow compared to his partner Heinrich Schliemann. Throughout their relationship, Schliemann constantly manipulated and took advantage of Frank Calvert. He was later found to be a war profiteer, involved in the black market and a smuggler. Schliemann had a significantly larger budget than Calvert, and frequently used it to his advantage. Calvert was also shy about his education experience, mainly because he was self-taught. At an early age he began visiting ancient sites, understanding different cultures and learning how they lived. His observations were never hidden. He enjoyed sharing his findings with anyone interested. In his teens he visited sites such as Corfu, Athens, Egypt, Brindisi and others, but he mostly stayed in the Troad (The Troad is a region of Asia Minor believed to have been under Trojan rule). Like the modern day “Indiana Jones,” Frank Calvert was also worried about the well-being of ancient artifacts, but that was not the opinion of the Turks. Occasionally, he would avoid or break the law in order to see that a threatened artifact was safe. Some scholars believe he kept his discoveries quiet because he wanted to keep a low profile. He feared that if he drew attention to himself the Turks would discover and take his artifacts. Calvert behaved the same way with Heinrich Schliemann. At the beginning of their partnership Calvert grew conscious of Heinrich’s bullying and manipulative behavior, but consequently Schliemann saw Calvert’s distant and reserved personality as a weakness and therefore treated him poorly .

Before the discovery of Troy, Heinrich Schliemann did not know where to look for the Trojan city, and he was about to give up his exploration for Troy all together. It wasn’t until Frank Calvert suggested excavating The Mound of Hasarlik, that Schliemann made any moves to dig at the site . Calvert had already searched in the mound, but he never made it down to the Bronze Age layers, however he was determined Troy was buried somewhere within the mound .

Located in Turkey, The Mound of Hasarlik was owned by Calvert and the other half was owned by the Turkish government. Since half of the mound was partially owned by Calvert, Schliemann knew he had a lot of knowledge surrounding the area. Therefore, trusting Calvert’s judgment, Schliemann began the excavation and the discovery of Troy in 1873. Now, most Schliemann scholars claim that if it was not for Frank Calvert, Schliemann’s discovery and rise to fame would never have been possible. The excavation lasted from 1873 to 1890 .

Schliemann and Calvert discovered more than just the city of Troy, but they also recovered thousands of artifacts such as diadems of woven gold, rings, bracelets, intricate earrings and necklaces, buttons, belts and brooches as well as anthropomorphic figures, bowls and vessels for perfumed oils . Later, during the excavation, Schliemann claimed to have found “Priam’s Treasure.” The treasure consisted of daggers, axes, and jewelry. However, there has been a lot of speculation that this treasure never even existed . David Traill has studied texts on Schliemann and Schliemann’s own journals. In his twenty years of study Traill identifies Schliemann as a “pathological liar.” For example, before the excavation of Troy, Schliemann had to get approval from the Turkish government to dig on their soil. The Turkish government responded by asking for half of Schliemann’s findings. However, Schliemann had already started smuggling artifacts out of the country. When Turkey found out about Schliemann’s dealings they sued him, but later Schliemann just bought Turkey’s share for a fraction of its worth and donated it to Germany, his homeland. Schliemann also gave no credit to Calvert for the discovery in Troy, and kept most of the findings for himself .

It wasn’t until recently that American and British heirs to Calvert sought ownership of a portion of the treasure. Frank Calvert’s great-grandson claims they will only seek out the treasure that was found on non-Turkish land. British archeologist, Donald F. Easton, mapped out where each treasure was discovered, and found that “Treasure L” was located on Calvert’s land. This treasure consisted mostly of ceremonial axes, but Schliemann smuggled the axes out of the country immediately after excavation and never reported the findings. Later however, scholars found his report on the treasure written in classified letters. The letters described how this treasure was the most important find he had excavated in Mycenae. The axes along with other artifacts from “Priam’s Treasure” reappeared in 1994, at the Pushkin Museum in Moscow, but the rightful owners of the artifacts remains in legal limbo .

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