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The Gold
of Troy From the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Art

The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts with the support of the Polyus gold mining company has launched a research project to study a group of objects from the world-famous Trojan collection of Heinrich Schliemann. During the first phase of the project, 65 jewellery items from all 13 treasures kept in the museum will be studied. 

The collection of 259 objects stored and displayed at the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts comprises objects from 13 treasures discovered by Heinrich Schliemann during his excavations of Troy in 1873, and also in 1878-1890. This includes various jewellery, vessels, anthropomorphic figurines, hammers, rock crystals, etc. Of the 19 treasures stored in Berlin since 1881, 13 were brought to Moscow, mostly they contained items made of precious metals and stone.

The research project undertaken by the Pushkin Museum with the support of the Polyus gold mining company is a worldwide academic event. The first stage will consist of macro photography and the study of the composition of the metals on a special machine. The items in the Trojan collection either exist as a single copy or have few equivalents. They have never before been studied using advanced scientific methods. Today marks the beginning of a completely new stage in the history of this unique collection. All stages of the work will be filmed to make a series.

Story of Troy

Troy II

A brief historical overview

In contemporary historical theory, the archaeological horizon of Troy II at Hissarlik Hill (present-day Turkey) is attributed to the Early Bronze Age, namely the period of the so-called "maritime culture", as its influence extended to the northern coast of the Aegean and Marmara Seas. Troy II lasted approximately 300 years, between 2550 and 2250 B.C. This period was characterized by the development of nautical skills, the expansion of trade and economic relations, the revival of metallurgy, in particular the improvement of toreutics – the art of making jewellery out of precious metals – and the introduction of the potter's wheel into pottery production.

The core of Troy II settlement was an acropolis situated on the hilltop with an 11 thousand sq.m. area, defended by 330-meter long defensive walls. Under the protection of these fortifications, which consisted of a strong base made of stone up to 6 meters high with a wall of adobe bricks up to 3 meters high, megaron buildings were located, which were used for religious ceremonies and meetings of the ruling elite of the settlement.

During archaeological excavations, it was established that the period of Troy II included at least eight construction phases, recording repeated extensions and improvements to the acropolis fortifications, e.g. the perimeter walls were reinforced by square bastions, and the main gates (FO and FM) were provided with a monumental inclined stone-paved ramp which was 21 metres long and 7.5 metres wide.

The lower town, which housed most of Troy II's population, adjoined the acropolis hill on the southern side. This lowland city was protected by a strong wooden paling and its area was about 90,000 square meters.

Excavations have shown that three of the eight building phases of Troy II ended with fires and destruction of the settlement. Under and in these layers of fire, 19 groups of objects marked as "treasures" were discovered, a denomination that has become part of the science of Troy II. The largest of these was found by Heinrich Schliemann in 1873 and was named the "Treasure of King Priam" (Treasure A). Later, these treasures were given letter designations.

259 items from 13 treasures (A, B, D, E, F, Ha, Hb, J, K, L, N, O, R) are now in the collection of the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts and are displayed in Room 3.


After the catastrophe that destroyed the settlement on Hissarlik Hill, known scientifically as Troy II, a considerable period of time elapsed during which three settlements, designated Troy III, Troy IV and Troy V, successively arose and disappeared on this site.

Around 1750 B.C. i.e. Late Bronze Age the settlement of Troy VI was established on the site that included a citadel and a lower town. As far as can be judged, the inhabitants of Troy VI had nothing in common with the population of Troy II neither genetically nor culturally.

Scholars have divided the existence of Troy VI into three phases: early, middle and late. In its early period, the citadel was surrounded by a defensive wall, which became higher and thicker as it developed and encompassed a larger and larger perimeter. The late period Troy VI Citadel wall was 530 metres long and protected an area of approximately 1.8 hectares. Under the protection of these strong, turreted walls, there were megaron-type buildings on the terraces, some of which were two stories high. Obviously, these monumental structures served as dwellings for the privileged class of Troy's population and as places of worship. 

Late period fortress walls and citadel buildings of Troy VI were partly destroyed by a strong earthquake in 1300 BC. The reconstruction of the citadel belongs to the next period, named Troy VIIa. 


This period is characterized by the increasing military threat and willingness of citadel inhabitants to further strengthen the defence system. For this purpose, the openings of south-western (VI U) and eastern (VI S) gates were blocked. Under the protection of the fortification, a lot of houses were built, but they were smaller and attached to the inner side of the defensive wall, along which wide streets previously lined the citadel. Buried pithoi for storing supplies have been found in the floors of these houses; some of the houses probably served only as storehouses, while others had additional equipment, such as ovens, cookers, grain mills and weaving looms. This suggests a change, namely a lowering of the status of the citadel population.

The lower town

The excavations, begun in 1988 under the direction of Professor Manfred Korfmann, have greatly changed our understanding of Ilion - Troy. One of the most important results was the localization of the boundaries of the lower town of Troy VI and VIIa. It was found that since the middle phase of Troy VI the settlement was surrounded by a moat cut in a rock which served as an obstacle for enemy's chariots attack - the newest and the most terrible weapon of II millennium BC. It is probable that the population of Troy during this period could be from 5 up to 10 thousand inhabitants.

Troy VIIa was lost in the fire approximately in 1190-1180 BC. American archaeologist Charles Blegen has suggested that this destruction is connected to the Trojan War, chronicled by Homer. Blegen's hypothesis is supported by the fact that the destruction of Mycenaean centres in Greece, the end of the great Hittite empire and the onslaught of the Sea Peoples on the Levant and Egypt all belong to the same period. The combination of these events marks the end of the Late Bronze Age. 


In 1945, by the decision of the Soviet Control Commission, the only legitimate authority following the signing of the Instrument of Surrender of Nazi Germany, many artworks from German museums were taken to the USSR as partial reparation for the damage caused by the Nazis during their temporary occupation of Soviet territories. Among them was the Trojan collection of Heinrich Schliemann, part of which - 260 items - the most valuable objects of gold, electrum, silver, rock crystal and stone were transferred to the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, while 414 items, mainly bronzes and ceramics, were sent to the State Hermitage. Since 1949 all these antiquities were kept without the right to be published and exhibited, as by the decision of the USSR authorities they were classified as a "special collection".

The Trojan collection was initially exhibited in Berlin in the Museum of Natural History, and from 1922, in the Museum of Prehistory and Early History. However, in January 1941, during the Second World War instigated by Nazi Germany, the Trojan treasure, together with other more valuable works of art from Berlin museums which had been classified as "irreplaceable", were placed by special decree in the safe depository of the Prussian State Bank. Later, in November 1941, because of the danger of the British bombing, the unique Trojan objects were moved to the concrete bunker of the anti-aircraft battery built near the Berlin zoo (Flakturm am Zoo). It was here in April 1945 that the Trojan collection was handed over by Wilhelm Unverzagt, director of the Museum of Prehistory and Early Art, to a Soviet officer.

Between 1941 and 1995, Schliemann's Trojan Collection remained inaccessible to scholars and the general public alike. What's more, it was thought to have been lost forever. The myth of the "Priam's gold" acquired new legends and speculations when in December 1994 - January 1995, authoritative experts in the study of Bronze Age cultures from Germany, the United States, Britain, Turkey and Greece for the first time had the opportunity to examine in detail the Schliemann collection in the Pushkin Museum. They unanimously confirmed its authenticity and excellent state of preservation. The exhibition "Treasures of Troy from Heinrich Schliemann's Excavations" opened at the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts on 15 April 1996 and allowed hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world to see the treasures.

  • Schliemann

    discovers a group of 8,830 objects, which he calls "The Treasure of Priam", treasure A

  • Information

    about the Treasure of Priam is published in Schliemann`s book Trojanische Altertümer: Bericht über die Ausgrabungen in Troj. Schliemann took the treasure to Athens, hiding it from the Turkish authorities.

  • Schliemann

    is a defendant in a lawsuit brought by the Turkish side and is ordered to pay a fine.

  • The Russian Archaeological Society

    is taking steps to acquire the Trojan collection, but the issue remains unresolved. Schliemann, with the help of Virchow, again excavates Troy and finds a number of "small treasures".

  • Schliemann,

    with the help of Virchow, again excavates Troy and finds a number of "small treasures".

  • Schliemann

    donates the Trojan collection to the city of Berlin and becomes an honorary citizen of Berlin and an honorary member of the Berlin Society for Ethnology and Ancient History. The Trojan collection was originally exhibited in Berlin at the Museum of Ethnography.

  • Schliemann,

    together with Dörpfeld, conducts his final excavations at Troy, during which he discovers the treasure L. These finds were also smuggled out of Turkey.

  • Hubert Schmidt

    compiled the first catalogue of objects and suggested transliteration of the treasures in Latin letters from A to R.

  • From 1922,

    the Trojan collection was exhibited at the Museum of Prehistory and Early History, Berlin.

  • The Trojan collection

    arrives at the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts and the State Hermitage Museum.

  • A number of respected experts

    in the study of Bronze Age cultures from Germany, the USA, England, Turkey and Greece were given the opportunity for the first time to examine the Schliemann collection at the Pushkin Museum in detail.

  • The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts

    has opened the exhibition "Treasures of Troy" and published the catalogue of the collection "Treasures of Troy from Heinrich Schliemann`s excavations". Exhibition catalogue / edited by M.J. Treister. Moscow, 1996.

  • The main part

    of the Trojan collection is part of the permanent exhibition of the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts and is displayed in Hall 3 of the Museum`s Main Building.

  • The State Hermitage Museum

    opens the exhibition "Schliemann. Petersburg. Troy" and publishes a catalogue "Schliemann. Petersburg. Troy" / Y. Piotrovsky. SPb., 1998.

  • Part of the Trojan collection

    is exhibited at the exhibition "The Bronze Age. Europe without Borders. Fourth - first Millennium B.C.", the catalogue "Bronze Age. Europe without Borders. Fourth - first millennia B.C." is published (Exhibition catalogue / authors of the idea V. Mengin, Yu. SPb., 2013).

  • Beginning of the Gold of Troy project


Troy has always stirred the minds of scholars and enthusiasts. We will introduce you to some of them.

  • Heinrich Schliemann,

    worked on the excavation of Troy from 1870-1890.

    Heinrich Schliemann was born in Germany into the family of an impoverished pastor. His energy, industriousness and an extraordinary aptitude for foreign languages enabled the young man to make a good career in a trading firm. He then carried on successful commercial activities in various countries, including Russia. Thanks to his business prowess, Schliemann gained financial independence and subsequently conducted excavations, published books and staged exhibitions with his funds.

    His particular passion was travelling, which enabled him both to satisfy his entrepreneurial interests and to visit many places of interest. In 1864-1865 Schliemann travelled around the world and visited Africa, India, China, Japan and North and South America.  Heinrich Schliemann turned to academia in 1866, becoming a student at the University of Paris. In 1868 he published "Ithaca, Peloponnese and Troy. Archaeological Investigations" ("Ithaka der Peloponnes und Troja: Archäologische Forschungen"), based on his travel notes about a trip to Greece. In 1869, the scientific council of the University of Rostock awarded him a doctorate.

    Schliemann became famous for his archaeological research on Hissarlik Hill, where the legendary Troy was believed to have been situated. The research took place in 1870 - 1873, 1878 - 1879, 1882 - 1884 and 1888 - 1890. In 1874, Schliemann published his famous book "Trojan Antiquities" ("Trojanische Alterthümer"), which had an archaeological atlas. In 1881 he published a major work "Ilios: The City and Country of the Trojans", in 1884 - "Troy. Results of my recent excavations at the fortress of Troja, in the burials of heroes, Bunarbaschi and other places of Troas in 1882" ("Troja: Ergebnisse meiner neuesten Ausgrabungen auf der Baustelle von Troja, in den Heldengraebern, Bunarbaschi und anderen Orten der Troas im Jahre 1882") and posthumously - "Report on the excavations in Troja in 1890" ("Bericht über die Ausgrabungen in Troja im Jahre 1890").

    He also worked successfully in Mycenae, Tirynthus and Orchomenus. In 1878, the book "Mycenae: A Narrative of Researches and Riscoveries of Mycenae and Tiryns", in 1881 - "Orchomenes. Orchomenos: Bericht über meine Ausgrabungen im böotischen Orchomenos" ("Report on my excavations in Boeotian Orchomenos"), and in 1886 - "Tirynth. Prehistoric Palace of the Kings of Tirinth. Results of Recent Excavations" ("Tiryns: Der Prähistorische Palast der Könige von Tiryns, Ergebnisse der neuesten Ausgrabungen"). He also attempted research on the island of Crete and Alexandria. Schliemann's work led to the discovery of the Anatolian culture of Troy and the Achaean culture of Mycenaean Greece.  In the last third of the 19th century, the archaeological method was in its formative stages. Schliemann was one of the pioneers, the founders of field archaeology. It was his work that demonstrated the importance of stratigraphic observation. He was the first to apply several important techniques to archaeological work. Schliemann used photography to document science, engaged surveyors, archaeologists, biologists and chemists, kept a field diary and made sketches, examined and classified common and mass finds, such as fragments of simple pottery, to characterize the layers, and regularly published reports of his excavations in the form of extensive monographs with illustrations.

    It is important to note that a national renaissance of Greece was taking place during those years, which was greatly aided by Schliemann's work and his enthusiastic attitude towards the history of this country.


Exhibits in the collection that we are studying

Place of origin: Asia Minor
Date: second half of the 2nd millennium BC.
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