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The Archaeology of Phrygian Gordion, Royal City of Midas

The Archaeology of Phrygian Gordion, Royal City of Midas: Gordion Special Studies 7

C. Brian Rose editor
Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 360
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  • Book Info
    The Archaeology of Phrygian Gordion, Royal City of Midas
    Book Description:

    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.

    eISBN: 978-1-934536-59-9
    Subjects: Archaeology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Figures
    (pp. vii-xiv)
  4. List of Tables
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xvii-xviii)
  6. 1 Introduction: The Archaeology of Phrygian Gordion
    (pp. 1-20)
    C. Brian Rose

    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 Phrygian, among others (Mellink 1992; Hawkins 2000; Bryce 2005:384). Fieldwork at several of the leading cities in these states began over 50 years ago, but within the last two decades they have yielded an astonishing series of new discoveries that have completely altered our understanding of early 1st millennium BC Anatolia, including...

  7. Mapping and the Landscape

    • 2 Mapping Gordion
      (pp. 23-38)
      Gabriel H. Pizzorno and Gareth Darbyshire

      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 among which is the recording of the spatial layout of the excavated remains: the mapping of Gordion.

      The lack of accurate spatial representations of the site has consistently hindered the analysis and publication of the excavated material. A complete site map combining all excavated data was never produced, and little of the ancient architecture could be precisely located in a site-wide coordinate...

    • [Illustrations]
      (pp. None)
    • 3 Reading Gordion Settlement History from Stream Sedimentation
      (pp. 39-46)
      Ben Marsh

      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 by human activities. It was human agency that ultimately resulted in the erosion and burial of Gordion.

      The human and natural landscapes in the region of Gordion have changed significantly since the Iron Age. Massive erosion in the uplands was initiated by early human landuse changes....

    • 4 Reconstructing the Functional Use of Wood at Phrygian Gordion through Charcoal Analysis
      (pp. 47-54)
      John M. Marston

      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 (Liebhart and Johnson 2005; Simpson and Spirydowicz 1999). Wooden beams from the Tumulus MM structure and from the destruction level of the Phrygian citadel on the Citadel Mound have provided tree sections for radiocarbon and dendrochronological dating of the site and aided in the creation of an absolute chronology for the eastern Mediterranean (DeVries et al. 2003; Kuniholm 1996). Understanding the functional use...

  8. The Early Phrygian Citadel

    • 5 The New Chronology for Gordion and Phrygian Pottery
      (pp. 56-66)
      G. Kenneth Sams

      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 of Phrygian material culture at the time of the disaster (Sams 1994a:2–7; Figs. 1.2, 5.1). Thanks to recent chronological developments, we now can place the conflagration around 800 BC instead of 700, as had been long held, which means that the Destruction Level provides a picture of Phrygian life as it was by the end of the 9th, not the...

    • 6 The Unfinished Project of the Gordion Early Phrygian Destruction Level
      (pp. 67-100)
      Mary M. Voigt

      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, they find that it is a large tank or Drain Basin with finished stone blocks lining its interior, and remnants of a stone-lined channel lead down into it from the north where the Early Phrygian Palace Quarter lay, its buildings preserved by a great fire that took place around 800 BC (Figs. 1.2, 6.3). This drainage system,...

    • 7 Pictures in Stone: Incised Drawings on Early Phrygian Architecture
      (pp. 101-110)
      Lynn E. Roller

      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 on several aspects of the culture and society of the Early Phrygian city, they merit further attention. The greatest number of drawings were located on the exterior surface of the side and back walls of the megaron, incised directly onto the stone blocks from which the megaron’s walls were constructed; two others...

    • 8 Early Bronze Fibulae and Belts from the Gordion Citadel Mound
      (pp. 111-126)
      Maya Vassileva

      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 bronze-producing center in Anatolia. Nearly a thousand bronze objects of Phrygian date were excavated on the Citadel Mound between 1950 and 1974, and although all of them form part of my research, I present here my preliminary conclusions concerning only two categories of objects: fibulae and belts.¹

      The fibulae are...

  9. Midas and Tumulus MM

    • 9 Phrygian Tomb Architecture: Some Observations on the 50th Anniversary of the Excavations of Tumulus MM
      (pp. 128-148)
      Richard F. Liebhart

      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 to the 53 m tall Tumulus MM, which is visible from nearly all parts of the Sakarya River valley (Fig. 9.1). Forty-four of the tumuli have been investigated archaeologically: 5 by the Körte brothers in 1900, 31 by the Americans, and 8 by Turkish archaeologists.² Rodney Young gave the tumuli...

    • 10 Royal Phrygian Furniture and Fine Wooden Artifacts from Gordion
      (pp. 149-164)
      Elizabeth Simpson

      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 P, Tumulus W, and the City Mound at Gordion. In order to understand these discoveries one must first review the furniture from Tumulus MM. Because these pieces were so well preserved, we studied them first; what we learned about the furniture from this tomb has been the basis for all subsequent work (Simpson 2010)....

    • 11 King Midas’ Textiles and His Golden Touch
      (pp. 165-170)
      Mary W. Ballard

      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 States Senate and of nations like Cuba, Colombia, and Argentina, and it is cherished by Frenchmen honoring Bastille Day, since it developed into an emblem of the French Revolution. Pliny actually credited the Phrygians with the invention of decorative weaving or embroidery in his Natural History (8.74.196), and the Latin word for embroiderer was “phrygio.” There...

    • 12 In the Shadow of Tumulus MM: The Common Cemetery and Middle Phrygian Houses at Gordion
      (pp. 171-188)
      Gunlög E. Anderson

      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 scale of the tumulus burials of wealthy families during the Early and Middle Phrygian period. Looking from the Citadel Mound toward the northeast today, one is overwhelmed by this extensive field of monumental burial mounds, and the view must have been even more striking in antiquity before the effects of erosion were visible (Young 1981: pl. 1A and B).


    • 13 The Throne of Midas? Delphi and the Power Politics of Phrygia, Lydia, and Greece
      (pp. 189-200)
      Keith DeVries and C. Brian Rose

      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 1991:191–95). Frequently referred to as the “Halos Deposit,” the pits contained an extensive assortment of elite offerings that were carefully buried ca. 420 BC, including several chryselephantine figures of Archaic date (Amandry 1991:191–94; Lapatin 2001:57–67). Within one of the pits was the now celebrated ivory figurine of a man with a lion...

  10. The Middle and Late Phrygian Citadel

    • 14 The Rebuilt Citadel at Gordion: Building A and the Mosaic Building Complex
      (pp. 202-218)
      Brendan Burke

      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 (2005:32–35) have recently highlighted, throughout Phrygian times (Early, Middle, and Late) Gordion was composed of two mounds, an eastern one extensively excavated by Young and the less-explored western mound. The two mounds were divided by a large street that was filled in toward the end of the 4th century, creating the...

    • 15 Pontic Inhabitants at Gordion? Pots, People, and Plans of Houses at Middle Phrygian through Early Hellenistic Gordion
      (pp. 219-224)
      Mark L. Lawall

      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 found at sites along the northern coast of the Black Sea. From such indications in Gordion’s amphora record, I concluded in an earlier paper that late Classical/earliest Hellenistic Gordion was heavily dependent on an overland route roughly due north to modern Ereğli (ancient Herakleia) for much...

  11. Conservation Management at Gordion

    • 16 Resurrecting Gordion: Conservation as Interpretation and Display of a Phrygian Capital
      (pp. 227-242)
      Frank Matero

      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 among the public and professionals alike that archaeological sites, like the natural environment, are nonrenewable resources that are disappearing at an alarming rate. This situation is attributable to a wide array of causes ranging from neglect and poor management to increased visitation and vandalism, from inappropriate past treatments to over-development for tourism (Matero et...

    • 17 Working with Nature to Preserve Site and Landscape at Gordion
      (pp. 243-258)
      Naomi F. Miller

      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 of the ancient settlement as well as most of the tumuli lie in deeply plowed and irrigated fields, and the damage has been considerable. Additional deterioration has been caused by natural forces: wind and water erosion, freezing and thawing, and root disturbance.

      Plants grow almost anywhere, and they can impede or enhance the...

    • 18 Gordion Through Lydian Eyes
      (pp. 259-276)
      Crawford H. Greenewalt Jr.

      “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 has guidance from Assyrian friends.²

      A Lydian from Sardis arriving at Gordion towards the middle of the 6th century BC (after ten days of upland travel) would have found a landscape broadly similar to that of his homeland, with river valley and mountains. Today, the Sakarya (ancient Sangarios) River valley is...

  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 277-300)
  13. Contributors
    (pp. 301-304)
  14. Turkish Summary/Özetler
    (pp. 305-310)
  15. Index
    (pp. 311-329)