Schliemann may have died from post-op infection

BALTIMORE (AP) – A fondness for frequent swims in the sea may have brought on the ear condition that led to the death of famed archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann, who was credited with discovering the ancient city of Troy, a doctor claimed on Friday. Schliemann, considered the founder of modern archaeology, died in 1890 from a brain abscess caused by an infection that developed following ear surgery, Dr Hinrich Staecker said. Staecker, who specializes in hearing loss, presented his findings at the University of Maryland School of Medicine’s annual clinicopathological conference, where doctors proposed their theory on the cause of death of a historic figure. Schliemann suffered from a bony growth in his ear canal that is related to cold-water exposure, Staecker said. Schliemann liked to swim frequently in the nearest body of water he could find – even in winter. The condition caused intense ear pain, headaches and hearing loss. When the pain became unbearable, Schliemann underwent a new surgery to treat the infection in his left ear, which had spread to the mastoid bone of the skull. He was 68 at the time. His German ear specialist said the operation was a success, but about a month later Schliemann experienced pain and deafness in his left ear while he was in Paris. From there, he went to Naples, where he collapsed in the street and died. Staecker also said Schliemann was a «recalcitrant and non-compliant patient,» who didn’t listen to his doctors and discharged himself from the hospital in order to be with his family in Greece. Staecker, an associate professor of surgery at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and surgeon at the VA Maryland Health Care System, studied Schliemann’s personal letters and medical records. Schliemann, who was born in Germany, was the son of a poor pastor, but made a fortune in the indigo trade. In 1873, he excavated remains of the ancient city of Troy, which is in modern Turkey.

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