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The Archaeology of Phrygian Gordion, Royal City of Midas

Gordion Special Studies 7

Edited by C. Brian Rose

Publication Year: 2013

Some of the most dramatic new discoveries in Asia Minor have been made at Gordion, the Phrygian capital that controlled much of central Asia Minor for close to two centuries. The most famous ruler of the kingdom was Midas, who regularly negotiated with Greeks in the west and Assyrians in the east during his reign. Excavations have been conducted at Gordion over the course of the last 60 years, all under the auspices of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.

In spite of the economic and political importance of Gordion and the Phrygians, the site is consistently omitted from courses in Old World archaeology, primarily because Gordion lies too far to the west for many Near Eastern archaeologists, and too far to the east for classical archaeologists. Moreover, there is no book that offers a comprehensive and up-to-date assessment of the material culture of Gordion during the Phrygian period, a gap that will be filled by this volume. The chapters cover all aspects of Gordion's Phrygian settlement topography from the arrival of the Phrygians in the tenth century B.C. through the arrival of Alexander the Great in 333 B.C., focusing on the site's changing topography and the consistently fluctuating interaction between the inhabitants and the landscape. A reexamination of the material culture of Phrygian Gordion is particularly timely, given the dramatic recent changes in the site's chronology, wherein the dates of many discoveries have changed by as much as a century. The authors are among the leading experts in Near Eastern archaeology, historic preservation, paleobotany, and ancient furniture, and their articles highlight the interdisciplinary nature of the Gordion project. A significant component of the book is a new color phase plan of the site that succinctly presents the topography in diachronic perspective.

Published by: University of Pennsylvania Press

Series: University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology


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p. iv-iv

Table of Contents

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pp. v-vi

List of Figures

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pp. vii-xiv

List of Tables

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pp. xv-xvi


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pp. xvii-xviii

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1 Introduction: The Archaeology of Phrygian Gordion

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pp. 1-20

Between the fall of the Hittite Kingdom and the creation of the Persian empire, there arose in central and southern Asia Minor a series of powerful states whose rulers occasionally claimed descent from the Hittite kings, and whose inhabitants spoke a variety of languages—Luwian, Aramaic, Lydian, and....

Mapping and the Landscape

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2 Mapping Gordion

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pp. 23-38

Six decades of archaeological investigation at Gordion have provided a wealth of information about ancient Anatolia, in particular regarding the Early and Middle Phrygian periods. However, with the ambitious scale of the project have come major challenges, chief...

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3 Reading Gordion Settlement History from Stream Sedimentation

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pp. 39-46

All archaeological landscapes degrade over time, but the landscape at Gordion is unusual in the way that the site has been directly attacked by the river adjacent to it. The damage to the cultural landscape by the Sakarya River is an indirect result of the environmental damage done to the river and its basin ...

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4 Reconstructing the Functional Use of Wood at Phrygian Gordion through Charcoal Analysis

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pp. 47-54

The site of Gordion is notable in world archaeology for the astonishing quantity and variety of wooden artifacts that survive from Phrygian burial contexts, including the tomb structure of Tumulus MM itself and the wooden furniture within...

The Early Phrygian Citadel

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5 The New Chronology for Gordion and Phrygian Pottery

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pp. 57-66

The destruction of the Early Phrygian citadel at Gordion constitutes a major stratigraphic and cultural event for Iron Age Anatolia. When the citadel’s monumental buildings burned to the ground, they were rich in contents that provide a vivid picture ...

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6 The Unfinished Project of the Gordion Early Phrygian Destruction Level

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pp. 67-100

When visitors to Gordion approach the entrance to the Early Phrygian fortified area or citadel, they are often puzzled by a massive pile of stones that stands just inside the towering walls of the gateway (Figs. 6.1, 6.2). If they examine this pile, ...

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7 Pictures in Stone: Incised Drawings on Early Phrygian Architecture

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pp. 101-110

A group of drawings from Megaron 2, one of the buildings from the Gordion Destruction Level excavated in 1956 and 1957, has long lain in the shadow of the more famous discoveries of those early Gordion years. Yet because these drawings have the potential to offer considerable information...

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8 Early Bronze Fibulae and Belts from the Gordion City Mound

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pp. 111-126

Gordion has yielded one of the largest collections of bronze objects in the Near East from the early 1st millennium BC, rivaled only by the finds from Hasanlu and Luristan in northwestern Iran. This extensive bronze assemblage clearly demonstrates the role of Gordion, and Phrygia in general, as a major...

Midas and Tumulus MM

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9 Phrygian Tomb Architecture: Some Observations on the 50th Anniversary of the Excavations of Tumulus MM

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pp. 129-148

The most striking and memorable feature of the Gordion landscape is the presence of over 200 tumuli, or earthen burial mounds that cover the tombs of the city’s elite.1 Ranging in date from the 9th century BC to the Hellenistic period, these tumuli vary in size from nearly imperceptible humps...

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10 Royal Phrygian Furniture and Fine Wooden Artifacts from Gordion

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pp. 149-164

In 2012 the Gordion Furniture Project conducted its 32nd season of research and conservation in the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, Ankara.1 Many interesting advances have been made in recent years, as the team has concentrated its efforts on the furniture and other wooden artifacts from Tumulus...

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11 King Midas’ Textiles and His Golden Touch

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pp. 165-170

Phrygia has been famous for its garments and textiles since antiquity. A floppy, quasi-conical hat, the “Phrygian cap” has been a symbol of liberty and independence from the Roman Republic. Even today this cap is seen in the coat of arms of the United...

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12 In the Shadow of Tumulus MM: The Common Cemetery and Middle Phrygian Houses at Gordion

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pp. 171-188

Among the most distinctive features of the now-familiar 1950 aerial photograph of Gordion are the nearly 100 tumuli that dot the landscape around the Citadel Mound (Figs. 12.1, 12.2). Better than many volumes of text, this photograph conveys the immense...

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13 The Throne of Midas? Delphi and the Power Politics of Phrygia, Lydia, and Greece

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pp. 189-200

Excavations conducted near the Treasury of the Corinthians at Delphi in 1939 uncovered two votive pits that contained material ranging in date from the late 8th century BC to the late 5th (Figs. 13.1, 13.2) (Amandry 1939; Luce and Blegen 1939:342–43; Amandry 1977:293; Amandry...

The Middle and Late Phrygian Citadel

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14 The Rebuilt Citadel at Gordion: Building A and the Mosaic Building Complex

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pp. 203-218

The new Middle Phrygian Citadel at Gordion dates to the period after the great fire destruction of the Early Phrygian level/YHSS 6A (Fig. 14.1). The fire is now dated to around 800 BC and the initial rebuilding occurred shortly after that (Voigt 2005:31). As Sams (2005a:18) and Voigt...

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15 Pontic Inhabitants at Gordion? Pots, People, and Plans of Houses at Middle Phrygian through Early Hellenistic Gordion

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pp. 219-224

A striking feature of the imported Greek amphoras found at Gordion is the frequent presence of jars from Pontic producers, especially from the south coast of the Black Sea, during the 4th and very early 3rd century BC. In this period, and even earlier, the Aegean types present at Gordion tend to echo those...

Conservation Management at Gordion

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16 Resurrecting Gordion: Conservation as Interpretation and Display of a Phrygian Capital

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pp. 227-242

Archaeological heritage and its conservation have become important issues in contemporary discourse on the use, management, and display of the past. Archaeological sites have long been a part of heritage, well before the use of the term “heritage.” Current concerns can be attributed to the perception....

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17 Working with Nature to Preserve Site and Landscape at Gordion

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pp. 243-258

There are two main categories of built remains at Gordion: the settlement occupied intermittently from the Early Bronze Age to the War of Independence, and over 100 burial tumuli erected primarily during the Middle Phrygian period. Both categories are, in principle, protected by Turkish law, but part...

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18 Gordion Through Lydian Eyes

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pp. 259-276

“Gordion Through Lydian Eyes,” the title proposed by Brian Rose for this chapter,1 recalls the brilliant conceit of Walter Andrae, in his book Das Wiedererstandene Assur (1977), to introduce the Assyrian city through an imagined visit in the early 7th century BC by a traveler from Greek Ionia, who...


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pp. 277-300


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pp. 301-304

Turkish Summary

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pp. 305-310


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pp. 311-329

E-ISBN-13: 9781934536599
E-ISBN-10: 1934536598
Print-ISBN-13: 9781934536483
Print-ISBN-10: 1934536482

Page Count: 360
Publication Year: 2013

Series Title: University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Gordion (Extinct city) -- Antiquities.
  • Phrygians -- Antiquities.
  • Excavations (Archaeology) -- Turkey -- Gordion (Extinct city).
  • Historic buildings -- Turkey -- Gordion (Extinct city).
  • Material culture -- Turkey -- Gordion (Extinct city).
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