Schumacher was born in Zanesville, Ohio, to which his father, Jakob, architect, engineer and member of the Templegesellschaft ("Temple Association"), a Swabian protestant pietest sect, had emigrated from Tuebingen. When the leaders of the group began to carry out their plan to colonise Palestine in the late 1860's, the Schumacher family settled in Haifa, where Jakob designed most of the German Colony, as well as many buildings for the various Christian communities of the Galilee. Gottlieb completed his secondary education in Haifa, and studied engineering in Stuttgart from 1876-1881.
Following the completion of his studies he returned to Haifa, where he quickly became a leading figure in the construction of roads and houses. He was appointed Chief Engineer for the Province of Akko by the Ottoman government. Among his many buildings are the Scottish hostels of Safed and Tiberias, the Russian hostel in Nazareth, the wine cellars for the Rothschild's winery at Rishon Lezion, and the bridge over the River Kishon.
One of his most important projects was the survey of the Golan, Hauran, and the Ajlun districts, in preparation for the construction of the Damascus-Haifa railway, which branched off from the Hejaz Railway at Deraa. As part of the same development he also extended the mole of the port of Haifa. In the course of this survey he produced the first accurate maps of these regions, along with detailed descriptions of the archaeological remains and the contemporary villages. From 1886 he published a series of articles in the Zeitschrift des Deutschen Palaestina-Vereins reporting his discoveries, articles which appeared in translation in the Palestine Exploration Fund Quarterly Statement. He published a series of books, also translated into English and published by the Fund. From 1903 to 1905 Schumacher carried out excavations at Tell el-Mutesellim, the ancient city of Megiddo. In 1908 the first of two volumes of his report was published, covering the stratigraphy and the architecture (the second, consisting of a study of the small finds was published by Carl Watzinger in 1929).
His approach to excavation was, in keeping with that of the majority of his contemporaries, based on the careful clearance of architectural horizons, rather than the dissection of layers of earth, however, by the standards of the day the work was carefully recorded, and his report is illustrated with a wealth of photographs of the excavated areas, and even simple, but beautifully drawn, sections, both a main section running across the site from north to south and smaller ones to illustrate detailed stratigraphic points.
His main excavated area consisted of a trench 20 m-25 m side running north-south through the centre of the mound, in which he identified eight strata, numbered from bottom to top, most of which may be dated, according to the pottery found in them to the Middle Bronze II-Iron II periods. A number of important buildings were excavated, including part of the Early Bronze Age palace from Stratum XII (of the Chicago excavations, an Iron II A palace on the south side of the tell, called building 1723 by the University of Chicago excavators, from which he recovered a seal with a beautifully depicted lion and the words "Shema' servant of Jereboam". In his Stratum IV he found corbel vaulted tombs with no parallels in the southern Levant. With the outbreak of World War I the Templar community returned to Germany, where Schumacher remained until 1924, when he returned to his home on the Carmel, where he died in 1925.
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