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The Archaeology of Midas and the Phrygians

The Archaeology of Midas and the Phrygians: Recent Work At Gordion

Edited by Lisa Kealhofer
Copyright Date: 2005
Pages: 272
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  • Book Info
    The Archaeology of Midas and the Phrygians
    Book Description:

    This book is a succinct and readable account of recent research at Gordion, the ancient capital of Phrygia, long one of the key sites for understanding Iron Age Anatolia. The regional survey at Gordion has involved a range of interdisciplinary studies-archaeological, environmental, and ethnoarchaeological-to produce an unusually comprehensive understanding of how the landscape evolved, the patterns of settlement during the rise and fall of the Phrygian state, and its environmental constraints. With a history of excavation of over a century, Gordion has yielded a vast store of material culture, some of which is spectacular. The Midas tumulus, the architecture of the Phrygian citadel, and the artifacts from several decades of excavations present unique challenges and solutions for conservation methodology. Analyses of these artifacts are providing new insights into the political and economic relationships of this region, particularly from the Early Iron Age to the Roman period. Presenting current work at Gordion contributes to the broader understanding of archaeology across the region and around the world.

    eISBN: 978-1-934536-24-7
    Subjects: Archaeology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. 1 Recent Work at Gordion
    (pp. 1-8)
    Lisa Kealhofer

    Gordion is one of the few sites in the Middle East, outside of the Levant and Egypt, with ongoing archaeological excavations and research since 1950 (Fig. 1-1). Research at Gordion has always been highly innovative: for example, in the 1950s Gordion provided some of the first radiocarbon samples to the new radiocarbon lab at the University of Pennsylvania Museum, and early magnetometer studies were conducted by Elizabeth Ralph, the director of the Museum Applied Science Center, on the Citadel Mound. More recently, multidisciplinary environmental, analytic, and chronometric projects have advanced new methods.

    With a long history of research and excavation,...

  4. I Excavations, History, and Dating at Gordion

    • 2 Gordion: Explorations over a Century
      (pp. 10-21)
      G. Kenneth Sams

      The site of Gordion was “discovered” in November 1893, when the German Classicist Alfred Körte visited a location on the Sangarios (modern Sakarya) River where engineers working on the Berlin-Baghdad Railroad had reportedly come across “die Reste einer uralten vorgriechischen Niederlassung” (Körte 1897:4). Körte identified the site as Gordion primarily on the basis of what ancient literary sources had to say about the old Phrygian capital, such as its location on the Sangarios River. Most compelling for Körte, however, was how well the geographic location of the site agreed with where Gordion occurs in the itinerary for the march of...

    • 3 Old Problems and New Solutions: Recent Excavations at Gordion
      (pp. 22-35)
      Mary M. Voigt

      This chapter briefly summarizes research at Gordion since 1988, setting out the questions we sought to answer and some of our results, providing an example of the ways in which a small-scale re-study project can enhance and supplement data from large-scale older excavations (Fig. 3-1). Many of our questions arose directly from the work of Rodney Young and his colleagues (see Chapter 2 this volume). Other questions and the methods used to address them were new, stemming from the interests of archaeologists trained in anthropology rather than classical archaeology.

      For example, in order to infer changes in political and economic...

    • 4 Greek Pottery and Gordion Chronology
      (pp. 36-55)
      Keith DeVries

      The considerable volume of Greek fine-ware pottery at Gordion gives vivid evidence for a receptive local market and a sustained commercial network through which Greek vases were transported over some 400–650 km of land routes alone (DeVries 1996:447). The pottery also has a key importance to the site as an often sensitive indicator of chronology. By a fortunate coincidence, Greek imports began in the second half of the 8th century BC, not long after the commencement of the “Hallstatt Disaster” in radiocarbon dating (ca. 750–400 BC), a period when radiocarbon determinations lose their precision.

      This chapter discusses how...

    • 5 Reconstructing the Roman-period Town at Gordion
      (pp. 56-67)
      Andrew Goldman

      In 25 BC the Roman Emperor Augustus (27 BC–AD 14) annexed a large swath of central Turkey to create the Roman province of Galatia. To facilitate the administration of this new territory, three cities were founded at the largest Galatian tribal centers, Ancyra, Tavium, and Pessinus (modern Ankara, Büyüknefes, and Ballihisar, respectively). Although Gordion had a legendary reputation by Roman times, it was not chosen to become a major center, having long since declined from its position of regional dominance. Indeed, the geographer Strabo (ca. 64 BC–ca. AD 21) describes the former Phrygian capital as having been reduced...

  5. II Interpreting the Finds from Gordion

    • 6 Textile Production at Gordion and the Phrygian Economy
      (pp. 69-81)
      Brendan Burke

      The legends of King Midas of Gordion and his incredible wealth are well known from Greek and Roman sources. While finds of gold are rare at Gordion, finely crafted metal vessels, objects of ivory and alabaster, and intricately carved wooden furniture attest to the wealth of the Phrygian elite. Workshops for the manufacture of such elite goods have not been located securely from the excavations at Gordion. Within the Citadel Mound, however, the most definitively located craft activity is the manufacture of Phrygian textiles. This chapter demonstrates that a centrally organized textile industry was a major feature of the Phrygian...

    • 7 A Decorated Roof at Gordion: What Tiles are Revealing about the Phrygian Past
      (pp. 82-100)
      Matt Glendinning

      A half-century of digging at Gordion has brought to light a dazzling array of Phrygian architectural terracottas known to laymen as roof tiles. After pottery, clay tiles are probably the most abundant artifacts at the site, and their recovery and analysis has been a persistent theme in the exploration of Gordion. Brushing aside the dust of ages to reveal a tile molded in relief and still brilliantly painted can be exciting and rewarding. At once architectural and artistic, the tiles offer a glimpse of Phrygian building styles and decorative tastes and provide clues about the site’s history.

      Those who have...

    • 8 Glass Vessels from Gordion: Trade and Influence Along the Royal Road
      (pp. 101-116)
      Janet Duncan Jones

      The glass vessels recovered from fifty years of archaeological investigation at Gordion make up one of the most extensive bodies of early luxury glassware from datable contexts. This remarkable body of material, long under-appreciated outside the world of ancient glass studies, illuminates significant aspects of the commercial, technological, and cultural interchange between East and West Asia in the 1st millennium BC. Several of these finds hint forcefully at a tradition of glass production in Asia Minor, possibly Phrygia itself, from as early as the 8th century BC.

      The Gordion corpus currently comprises over 500 diagnostic fragments of glass ranging in...

    • 9 A Preliminary Report on the Human Skeletal Material from Gordion’s Lower Town Area
      (pp. 117-123)
      Page Selinsky

      The site of Gordion is perhaps best known for the Tumulus MM burial excavated in 1957 and initially believed to be that of the legendary King Midas (but recently redated, see Manning et al. 2001). Other tumuli and cemeteries have yielded a skeletal collection that stretches from the 17th century BC to at least the 4th century AD. Little is known about the occupants of the excavated burials because few studies of the Gordion skeletal material have been conducted (Bostancı 1962; Çiner 1971; Prag 1989). Published work has focused primarily on the burial goods and practices rather than the skeletal...

    • 10 The Local Potter’s Craft at Phrygian Gordion
      (pp. 124-135)
      Robert C. Henrickson

      Through ideology and behavior, society shapes the pottery assemblage and craft as surely, if not as directly, as do the potters. These artisans have a repertoire of skills which changes over time and must adapt to local materials. Vessel function influences vessel form as well as material choice and preparation. For example, diet and preferred methods of food preparation affect the characteristics of a cooking pot (Arnold 1985; Rice 1987). The specific sequences of forming and finishing methods used derive from the local craft tradition, so technological differences and changes may have cultural or socioeconomic implications.

      Reconstructing and understanding the...

  6. III Gordion in Its Regional Context

    • 11 The Gordion Regional Survey Settlement and Land Use
      (pp. 137-148)
      Lisa Kealhofer

      The nature of the relationship between political and economic change has been the subject of long and extensive debate (e.g., Hirth 1996; Marx [1887] 1992). The long-term history of the Gordion region includes the expansion and contraction of several states and empires (Hittites, Phrygians, Romans), and it provides an excellent opportunity to study how economic strategies changed with political transformations (see Table 3-1).

      This chapter presents the preliminary results of the Gordion Regional Survey (GRS)(1996–2002)¹, which collected information on both settlement patterns (settlement distribution over time) and ancient environments (soils, hydrology, erosion). Environmental data include a palimpsest of land...

    • 12 Ceramic Compositional Analysis and the Phrygian Sanctuary at Dümrek
      (pp. 149-160)
      Peter Grave, Lisa Kealhofer and Ben Marsh

      Phrygian (or stylistically similar) ceramics are a common component of Iron Age sites in central Anatolia, but much of Phrygian culture remains obscure. In this chapter we use a combination of systematic survey and archaeological science at the ritual site of Dümrek to help us understand the extent of Early and Middle Phrygian cultural interaction in central Anatolia.

      Only two major Phrygian sites have been excavated—Yassihöyük and Midas City. Yassihöyük, identified as ancient Gordion, is the most comprehensively studied of these and represents the Phrygian type site for Anatolia. Our knowledge of the Phrygian occupation of Gordion is largely...

    • 13 Physical Geography, Land Use, and Human Impact at Gordion
      (pp. 161-171)
      Ben Marsh

      The aspects of the physical landscape that are most relevant to ancient occupation are bedrock, topography, soil, and streams and springs. Topography guides the important human activities of transportation, agriculture, settlement, and defense. Soil supports agriculture and natural vegetation and is thus the foundation of subsistence systems. Streams and springs provide water for domestic uses and for irrigation. Beneath all of this, bedrock is the primary influence on the other aspects of the physical landscape—it erodes into topography, it is the parent material of the soil, it channels groundwater to the springs and streams. And bedrock provides raw material...

    • 14 Ethnographic Lessons for Past Agro-Pastoral Systems in the Sakarya-Porsuk Valleys
      (pp. 172-189)
      Ayşe Gürsan-Salzmann

      Research on living pastoralists in southwest Asia has proliferated in the last two decades. Using ethnographic and historical sources to supplement archaeological surveys of campsites we have gained insights into the pastoral component of ancient economies. Hole’s (1979) pioneering work in Luristan, Iran, documented Tepe Tula’i as a prehistoric pastoral campsite and demonstrated the need to design guidelines derived in part from ethnographic observations to locate early pastoral sites. Although much has been learned since then about the archaeological correlates of pastoral behavior, especially the material indicators of pastoral sites and settlement patterns, more research lies ahead, particularly on the...

  7. IV Conserving Gordion and Its Artifacts

    • 15 Support and Conserve: Conservation and Environmental Monitoring of the Tomb Chamber of Tumulus MM
      (pp. 191-203)
      Richard F. Liebhart and Jessica S. Johnson

      The burial mound known as Tumulus MM is by far the largest of approximately 80 tumuli around Gordion marking the burials of the Phrygian elite. Excavated by Rodney Young in 1957, the tumulus has since been developed by the Turkish authorities as an archaeological attraction for some 40,000 local and foreign visitors each year. The tumulus itself currently stands about 53 m high, and it contains a wooden tomb chamber that is approximately 2,700 years old and is considered to be the oldest standing wooden building in the world (Fig. 15-1; Young 1981).

      Although traditionally Tumulus MM (“Midas Mound”) has...

    • 16 Recent Conservation Research: Soluble Salts in Gordion Ceramics
      (pp. 204-214)
      Julie Unruh and Jessica S. Johnson

      Each time archaeologists excavate artifacts from the earth—be they ceramic sherds, bone or ivory decorations, faunal remains, copper jewelry, iron tools, burnt wooden furniture or any of a multitude of other materials—they remove them from an environment where they have lain safely for decades to millennia. The excavation process is inherently disruptive, destroying both the layers of information preserved in the soil and the environment that has preserved artifacts and structures. Archaeological methods attempt to document as much information as possible, so that materials can be interpreted now and in the future.

      The objects or artifacts are another...

    • 17 Architectural Conservation at Gordion
      (pp. 215-229)
      Mark Goodman

      After a catastrophic fire destroyed much of the Old Phrygian Citadel in the late 9th century BC, the Phrygians buried the ruins under 3–5 m of clay soil. The architectural plan of this Citadel, protected from subsequent stone robbing and reuse, was found to be largely intact. Excavations of this Destruction Layer in the 1950s and 1960s unearthed some of the best examples of monumental Phrygian architecture in Iron Age Anatolia.

      Preserving and presenting these architectural ruins has been the focus of site conservation at Gordion. The development of new techniques of on-site conservation will have a favorable impact...

  8. Bibliography
    (pp. 230-249)
  9. Contributors
    (pp. 250-253)
  10. Index
    (pp. 254-258)
  11. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)