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The New Chronology of Iron Age Gordion

The New Chronology of Iron Age Gordion

C. Brian Rose
Gareth Darbyshire
Keith DeVries
Bernd Kromer
Peter Ian Kuniholm
Richard F. Liebhart
Sturt W. Manning
Maryanne W. Newton
G. Kenneth Sams
Mary M. Voigt
Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 192
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  • Book Info
    The New Chronology of Iron Age Gordion
    Book Description:

    The New Chronology of Iron Age Gordion argues that the history and archaeology of the site of Gordion, in central Turkey, have been misunderstood since the beginning of the excavations in the 1950s. The first excavation director, Rodney Young, found evidence for substantial destruction during the first decade of fieldwork; this was interpreted as proof that Gordion had been destroyed ca. 700 B.C. by the Kimmerians, a group of invaders from the Caucusus/Black Sea region, as attested in several ancient literary sources. During the last decade, however, renewed research on the archaeological evidence, within, above, and below the destruction level indicated that the catastrophe that destroyed much of Gordion occurred 100 years earlier, in 800 B.C., and was the result of a fire that quickly got out of control rather than a foreign invasion. This discovery requires a reassessment of Anatolian history during the entire first millennium B.C. and has serious implications for our understanding of the surrounding regions, such as Assyria, Syria, Greece, and Urartu, among others. The New Chronology of Iron Age Gordion is the product of a multidisciplinary research program, with dendrochronology and radiocarbon dating working hand in hand with textual and artifact analysis, each of which is treated in a separate chapter in this volume. All of these categories of evidence point to the same conclusion and demonstrate that we need to look at Gordion, and much of the ancient Near East, in a completely new way.

    eISBN: 978-1-934536-55-1
    Subjects: Archaeology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. [Map]
    (pp. vi-vi)
  4. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vii-x)
  5. List of Tables
    (pp. xi-xii)
  6. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xiii)
  7. Introduction
    (pp. 1-12)

    Gordion has long been considered one of the most important sites in the Near East because of its chronology. With a well-preserved destruction level that seemed safely linked to a key moment in history, Gordion appeared to provide a stable stratigraphic framework that could be tied to other sites whose chronologies were less secure. The site has yielded an extensive body of archaeological evidence that spans at least five millennia, from the Early Bronze Age (ca. 3000 BC) to modern times, and well-preserved stratified deposits mark a long series of construction, demolition, and destruction events over the millennia (Table 0.1)....

  8. 1 The Creation of the Old Chronology
    (pp. 13-22)
    Keith DeVries

    Until recently, few issues in Mediterranean and Near Eastern archaeology have seemed more certain than the occasion and date of a massive destruction by fire that swept through much of the Early Phrygian Citadel at Gordion, the long-time Phrygian capital. The destruction was thought to have been caused by invading Kimmerians, and to have occurred in the opening years of the 7th century BC; after this destruction, Midas, the Phrygian king, committed suicide. The artifacts found in great abundance in the floor deposits of the Citadel’s burned structures, all necessarily of the same date, became a linchpin of Central Anatolian...

  9. 2 Emerging Problems and Doubts
    (pp. 23-48)
    Mary M. Voigt and Keith DeVries

    While the excavators attempted to align the Gordion stratigraphic sequence with the extant historical fragments, other evidence bearing upon the Destruction Level was quietly being gathered offstage. Radiocarbon dating of Gordion material had been undertaken relatively early, and the University of Pennsylvania was a pioneer in promoting such work.2.1 The University Museum director, Froelich Rainey, had established a carbon-14 laboratory in 1951, run jointly by the University’s Physics Department and the Museum Applied Science Center for Archaeology (MASCA). In 1961 Ellen Kohler, the Gordion registrar and archivist, and Elizabeth Ralph of MASCA published radiocarbon dates from the University of Pennsylvania...

  10. 3 Textual Evidence and the Destruction Level
    (pp. 49-58)
    Keith DeVries

    Consistently interwoven with the archaeological evidence from Gordion has been a large and tangled panoply of literary references to the career of Midas, specifically, his interaction with other Near Eastern kings and with the Kimmerians. Allusions to Midas in Classical, Early Christian, and Byzantine literature are much more numerous that one might initially suspect, and they were written by authors as diverse as Aristotle, Plutarch, and Gregory of Nazianzus, among others. In addition, Midas’ reign has been tied to that of kings in a wide variety of areas, including Judaea, Egypt, Lydia, and Assyria, although only the latter region has...

  11. 4 Artifacts
    (pp. 59-78)
    G. Kenneth Sams

    This chapter examines the compatibility of the new chronology for Iron Age Gordion, as based on scientific determinations, with the material record. Under the old chronology, the destruction of the Early Phrygian Citadel occurred ca. 700 BC, and the wealthy tumuli K-III, P, MM, and W antedated that event.4.1 The reconstruction of the Middle Phrygian Citadel at a much higher level, atop an enormous layer of fill, occurred sometime afterward. Moving the tons of earth and rock used in reconstruction would have been far from an overnight task, and the project was assumed to have extended well into the 7th...

  12. 5 Dendrochronology at Gordion
    (pp. 79-122)
    Peter Ian Kuniholm and Maryanne W. Newton

    This chapter provides an account of the dendrochronological determinations that have a bearing on the revised chronology for Iron Age Gordion and the Early Phrygian (YHSS 6A-DL period) Destruction Level. The tree-ring evidence derives from timbers in Phrygian Iron Age tumuli and preand post-Destruction Level structures on the Citadel Mound. The Gordion trees form the backbone for a long dendrochronological sequence constructed for Anatolia. By itself, this sequence provides an order for archaeological timbers, but because it is not yet linked to the present, the sequence does not provide absolute or calendrical dates for the cutting and use of specific...

  13. 6 Radiocarbon Dating Iron Age Gordion, and the Early Phrygian Destruction in Particular
    (pp. 123-153)
    Sturt W. Manning and Bernd Kromer

    The new, significantly revised date of ca. 800 BC for Gordion’s Early Phrygian Destruction Level was initially proposed in DeVries et al. 2003, on the basis of five radiocarbon dates and the reappraisal of archaeological linkages. Some have accepted this new dating but others have vigorously opposed it, seeking to retain the old, lower date of ca. 700 BC for the Destruction Level (most notably Muscarella, 2003, 2008a, and 2008b). Keenan (2004) has also criticized the new radiocarbon evidence and attempted to show that these data failed to rule out the old chronology. These claims do not stand up to...

  14. 7 In Conclusion
    (pp. 155-168)
    G. Kenneth Sams and Mary M. Voigt

    In this volume we have attempted to set forth the background, development, and partial consequences of two major temporal revisions in the history of Iron Age Gordion: shifting the destruction of the Early Phrygian Citadel to ca. 800 BC rather than 700, and dating the felling date of juniper logs used to encase the wooden tomb under Tumulus MM to ca. 740 BC, rather than several decades later. Both dates are scientifically derived by radiocarbon and dendrochronology, and each stands independent of other archaeological evidence.

    The new dating demonstrates that the Citadel could not have been destroyed by the Kimmerians,...

  15. Turkish Summary/Özet
    (pp. 169-172)

    Gordion’un kronolojik tablosu, uzun zamandan beri Yakın Doğu’nun en önemli arkeolojik alanlarından biri olmasına sebep olmuştur. İyi korunmuş bir “Yıkım Tabakası” na (Destruction Level) sahip olmasından ötürü Gordion tarihin kilit bir olayıdır, ve kronolojileri sağlam olmayan arkeolojik alanlara stratigrafik bir çerçeve sağlamıştır. Gordion, Erken Tunç Çağı’ndan günümüze uzanan ve en az beş bin yılı kapsayan birçok arkeolojik kanıtı sunar. Bu kalıntılar içerisindeki iyi korunmuş stratigrafik katmanlar, bu süre içerisinde gerçekleşmiş olan bir seri yapım ve yıkım olaylarını gösterir.

    M.Ö. 1. binyıl’ın ilk yarısına tarihlenen Demir Çağı, Gordion’un en çok dikkati çeken evresidir. Bu süre içerisinde, Gordion geniş ve güçlü bir...

  16. Contributors
    (pp. 173-174)
  17. Index
    (pp. 175-181)