During the 1890 excavations at Hissarlik, Schliemann’s chronic ear problems deteriorated, so he decided to travel to Germany for a surgery in November. Against doctors’ orders, he curtailed his recovery and left to settle business matters and meet friends in Leipzig, Berlin, and Paris. His final stop, before returning home to his family for Christmas, was Naples, where he planned to visit the museum and Pompeii. On Christmas Day he was found unconscious in the street near his hotel; the infection had reached his brain. The next day, as doctors discussed whether to operate or not, Schliemann died.
Sophia’s brother and Wilhelm Dörpfeld brought Schliemann’s embalmed body from Naples back to Athens, where he was buried on January 4, 1891. The impressive ceremony received extensive coverage in the Greek and international press, with the King of Greece and members of the royal family present, together with parliamentarians, diplomats, and academics. Schliemann’s mausoleum in the First Cemetery, also designed by Ernst Ziller, stands on a hill overlooking Athens. At a memorial service in the Berlin Town Hall in March 1891, Ernst Curtius and Rudolf Virchow honored Schliemann’s life and contributions to his native land. The “epoch-making” excavator of Troy and Mycenae had earned immortality.