Sacred Texts  Atlantis 

How I Found the Lost Atlantis, The Source of All Civilization

by Dr. Paul Schliemann


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This article and the accompanying illustrations, produced from a photocopy provided by the New York Public Library, are republished for the first time in over ninety years at

On October 20th, 1912, readers of the New York American were regaled with a startling and perhaps history-making story in a lavish two-page spread. Paul Schliemann, grandson of Heinrich Schliemann, the famous archeologist who excavated Mycenae and the legendary city of Troy, revealed that his grandfather on his deathbed produced a mysterious bequest for any of his heirs willing to devote their life to proving the existence of Atlantis. He claimed that he had spent years following up on this and now was about to produce actual physical evidence of the reality of the fabled lost continent. Or was he....

The New York American was one of the newspapers started by William Randolph Hearst which spawned the term 'Yellow Journalism', the predecessor of such distinguished modern supermarket tabloids such as the National Enquirer. Hearst newspapers could be relied upon for banner headlines, sensational scoops, heart-tugging sob stories, and yarns which skirted the boundaries of good taste, if not logic. So in context, this article, which has occasionally been cited as an actual contribution to the study of Atlantis, can be appreciated as merely a diversion on the level of the Bat Boy or Aliens in the Oval Office.

And indeed, this turned out to be a flash-in-the-pan hoax. There was no follow-up book, and Paul Schliemann dropped out of sight as quickly as he emerged. The promised artifacts were never produced, and scholars who worked closely with Heinrich Schliemann confirmed that he had never demonstrated any interest in Atlantis whatsoever.

A close read of this article reveals many howlers that even an armchair archeologist will spot instantly. For instance, "...a collection of objects excavated from Tiahuanaca, in Central America." He misspells Tiahuanaco, and it's in South America. Or how about "...engraved with a sentence in Phoenician hieroglyphics". The Phoenicians used a phonetic writing system, not hieroglyphs. And "the Egyptian and the American pyramids [were] covered with a thick coating of smooth and shining cement", which is completely untrue. Some of the Egyptian pyramids were originally covered with casing stones; none of the American pyramids were encased, let alone with cement. And "In the records of the old Buddhistic Temple at Lhasa there is to be seen an ancient Chaldean inscription"; this is conceivable but unlikely; it would be like finding an illuminated Sanskrit manuscript in an Irish monastery. And so on... Whoever wrote this, they weren't an archeologist; it was probably one of the Hearst hacks. As a matter of fact, the writing is so pulp, the author (whoever he or she is) even apologizes halfway through for being over-dramatic.

In any case, we hope you enjoy this for what it is--a wonderful piece of flim-flam, a slice of Americana.

--John Bruno Hare
January 26th, 2004

Illustration: Atlantis
Illustration: The New Diving Armor
Illustration: The Owl-Headed Vase and Two Other Objects
Illustration: Siegfried and the Dragon
How I Found the Lost Atlantis, The Source of All Civilization
Sidebar: What the Lost Atlantis Is Supposed to Have Been
Sidebar: Who Dr. Heinrich Schliemann Was and the Treasures He Found