Gordium (Greek: Γόρδιον, Górdion; Turkish: Gordion or Gordiyon) was the capital city of ancient Phrygia. It was located at the site of modern Yassıhüyük, about 70–80 km southwest of Ankara (capital of Turkey), in the immediate vicinity of Polatlı district. The site was excavated by Gustav Körte and Alfred Körte in 1900[1] and then by the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, under the direction of Rodney S. Young, between 1950 and 1973.[2] Excavations have continued at the site under the auspices of the University of Pennsylvania Museum with an international team.

Gordium lies where the ancient road between Lydia and Assyria/Babylonia crossed the Sangarius river.

Ruins of Gordion 3
The ruins of Gordium
Gordium is located in Turkey
Shown within Turkey
LocationYassıhüyük, Ankara Province, Turkey
Coordinates39°39′18″N 31°59′39″E / 39.65500°N 31.99417°ECoordinates: 39°39′18″N 31°59′39″E / 39.65500°N 31.99417°E
BuilderThracian settlers
Founded12th century BCE


In the 12th century BCE, Gordium was settled by Brygians who had migrated from southeastern Europe. During the 9th and 8th centuries BCE, the city grew into the capital of a kingdom that controlled much of Asia Minor west of the river Halys. The kings of Phrygia built large tombs near Gordium called tumuli, which consist of artificial mounds constructed over burial chambers. There are about one hundred of them, covering both cremations and inhumations. In the 8th century, the lower city and the area to the north of the citadel was surrounded by a circuit wall with regularly spaced towers.

The most famous king of Phrygia was Midas. Contemporary Assyrian sources dating between c. 718 and 709 BCE call him Mit-ta-a. According to the Greek historian Herodotus, King Midas was the first foreigner to make an offering at the sanctuary of Apollo at Delphi, dedicating the throne from which he gave judgment.[3] During his reign, according to Strabo, the nomadic Cimmerians invaded Asia Minor, and in 710/709 BCE, Midas was forced to ask for help from the Assyrian king Sargon II. In Strabo's account, King Midas committed suicide by drinking bull's blood when the Cimmerians overran the city.[4]

Tumulus MM (for "Midas Mound"), the Great Tumulus, is the largest burial mound at Gordium, standing over 50 meters high today, with a diameter of about 300 meters. The tumulus was excavated in 1957 by Young's team, revealing the remains of the royal occupant, resting on purple and golden textiles in an open log coffin, surrounded by a vast array of magnificent objects. The burial goods included pottery and bronze vessels containing organic residues, bronze fibulae (ancient safety pins), leather belts with bronze attachments, and an extraordinary collection of carved and inlaid wooden furniture, exceptional for its state of preservation. The Tumulus MM funeral ceremony has been reconstructed, and scientists have determined that the guests at the banquet ate lamb or goat stew and drank a mixed fermented beverage.[5][6] It is now generally assumed to be the tomb of Midas' father Gordias, and was probably the first monumental project of Midas after his accession.

Date of the destruction

The "Tomb of Midas" in Gordion, dated 740 BCE.

There is ample evidence of widespread burning of the city mound of Gordium, in a level referred to by Young as the destruction level. Archaeologists at first interpreted the destruction level as the remains of a Cimmerian attack, c. 700 BCE. The traces were later reinterpreted as dating to c. 800 BCE, largely on the basis of dendrochronology and radiocarbon analysis, and with reference to the types of objects found in the burned level.[7] If this reinterpretation is correct, then the otherwise-unrecorded destruction would seem to have been caused by a conflagration unrelated to a Cimmerian attack. The earlier date, though, is contested, primarily on the basis of the types and styles of objects excavated in the destruction level, the latest of which are dated to c. 700 BCE by some scholars.[8][9] The radiocarbon date seems to have a range wide enough to accommodate both proposed archaeological dates.[10] Although the date of the destruction continues to be debated, a date of c. 800 BCE is now most-commonly accepted.[11]

Gordian Knot

According to ancient tradition, in 333 BCE Alexander the Great cut (or otherwise unfastened) the Gordian Knot: this intricate knot joined the yoke to the pole of a Phrygian wagon that stood on the acropolis of the city. The wagon was associated with Midas or Gordias (or both), and was connected with the dynasty's rise to power. A local prophecy had decreed that whoever could loosen the knot was destined to become the ruler of Asia.[12]


  1. ^ G. and A. Körte, Gordion: Ergebnisse der Ausgrabung im Jahre 1900. Jahrbuch des kaiserlich deutschen archäologischen Instituts V (Berlin, 1904).
  2. ^ R.S. Young, Three Great Early Tumuli. The Gordion Excavations Final Reports, Volume 1 (Philadelphia, 1981).
  3. ^ Histories (Herodotus) 1.14.
  4. ^ Strabo 1.3.21. L. Roller, "The Legend of Midas", Classical Antiquity 2(1983): 299–313.
  5. ^ E. Simpson, “Midas’ Bed and a Royal Phrygian Funeral”, Journal of Field Archaeology, 17(1990): 69–87.
  6. ^ P. McGovern, D. Glusker, R. Moreau, A. Nuñez, C. Beck, E. Simpson, E. Butrym, L. Exner, and E. Stout, “A Funerary Feast Fit for King Midas”, Nature 402(1999): 863–864.
  7. ^ K. DeVries et al., "New dates for the destruction levels at Gordion", Antiquity 77 (June 2003)
  8. ^ O.W. Muscarella, "The date of the destruction of the Early Phrygian Period at Gordion", Ancient West & East 2, 225–252 (2003). (Argues against the earlier date.)
  9. ^ M.M. Voigt, "Old Problems and New Solutions: Recent Excavations at Gordion," in: L. Kealhofer (Ed.) The Archaeology of Midas and the Phrygians (Philadelphia, 2005), 28–31. (Argues for the reinterpretation of the archaeological evidence.)
  10. ^ D.J. Keenan, "Radiocarbon dates from Iron Age Gordion are confounded", Ancient West & East 3, 100–103 (2004).
  11. ^ C. B. Rose, G. Darbyshire [Editors], The New Chronology of Iron Age Gordion (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Museum, 2011).
  12. ^ L. Roller, "Midas and the Gordian Knot." Classical Antiquity 3(1984): 256–271.

Further reading

  • Keith DeVries (editor). From Athens to Gordion (Philadelphia: University Museum, 1980).
  • Peter Grave, Lisa Kealhofer, Ben Marsh, G. Kenneth Sams, Mary Voigt, Keith DeVries (2009), "Ceramic production and provenience at Gordion, Central Anatolia", Journal of Archaeological Science, 36, 2162-2176.
  • Ann C. Gunter. Gordion Excavations Final Reports Vol. III: The Bronze Age (Philadelphia: University Museum, 1991).
  • Ellen L. Kohler. The Gordion Excavations (1950–1973) Final Reports, Vol. II: The Lesser Phrygian Tumuli, Part 1, The Inhumations (Philadelphia, 1995).
  • Gustav Körte and Alfred Körte. "Gordion: Ergebnisse der Ausgrabung im Jahre 1900". Jährliches Ergänzungsheft 5 (Berlin, 1904). (In German.)
  • Frank Matero and Meredith Keller, eds. Gordion Awakened: Conserving A Phrygian Landscape (Philadelphia: Architectural Conservation Laboratory, 2011).
  • Machteld Mellink. A Hittite Cemetery at Gordion (Philadelphia: University Museum, 1956).
  • Naomi F. Miller. 2010, Botanical Aspects of Environment and Economy at Gordion, Turkey, Gordion Special Studies V. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Museum.
  • Oscar White Muscarella. Phrygian Fibulae from Gordion. (London: Colt Archaeological Institute, 1967).
  • Lynn Roller. Gordion Special Studies, Vol. I: Nonverbal Graffiti, Dipinti, and Stamps (Philadelphia: University Museum, 1987).
  • Irene Romano. Gordion Special Studies Vol. II: The Terracotta Figurines and Related Vessels (Philadelphia: University Museum, 1995).
  • C. Brian Rose (Ed.). 2012, The Archaeology of Phrygian Gordion, Royal City of Midas. Proceedings of a conference held at the Penn Museum. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Museum.
  • G. Kenneth Sams. The Gordion Excavations, 1950–1973: Final Reports, Vol. IV: The Early Phrygian Pottery (Philadelphia: University Museum, 1994).
  • Elizabeth Simpson. The Gordion Wooden Objects, Vol. 1: The Furniture from Tumulus MM (Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2010).
  • Elizabeth Simpson and Krysia Spirydowicz. Gordion Wooden Furniture: The Study, Conservation, and Reconstruction of the Furniture and Wooden Objects from Gordion, 1981–1998 (Ankara: Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, 1999).
  • Rodney Young et al. Gordion Excavations Reports, Vol. I: Three Great Early Tumuli [P, MM, W] (Philadelphia: University Museum, 1981).

External links

1957 in archaeology

The year 1957 in archaeology involved some significant events.

Coenus (general)

Coenus (Greek: Koῖνος; died 326 BC), a son of Polemocrates and son-in-law of Parmenion, was one of the ablest and most faithful of Alexander the Great's generals during his eastern expedition.


Docimium, Docimia or Docimeium (Greek: Δοκίμια and Δοκίμειον) was an ancient city of Phrygia, Asia Minor where there were famous marble quarries.


Gordian may refer to:

Gordian I (c.159–238), Roman emperor for one month with his son

Gordian II (c.192–238), son of Gordian I, Roman emperor for one month

Gordian III (225–244), grandson of Gordian I, Roman emperor from 238–244

Saint Gordianus (disambiguation)

Gordian Fulde (born 1948), Australian medical doctor

Gordian Warrior, Japanese anime television series,1979–1981

Gordianus the Finder, fictional protagonist of Steven Saylor's mystery novels set in Republican Rome

Gordian worms, a common name for Nematomorpha, a phylum of parasitic worms

Gordian, antagonist in Quiz & Dragons: Capcom Quiz Game

Gordian, related to Gordium, capital city of ancient Phrygia

Gordian Knot, legend of Gordium associated with Alexander the Great


Gordias (Ancient Greek: Γορδίας, Gordías; also Γόρδιος, Górdios, "Gordius") was the name of at least two members of the royal house of Phrygia.

The best-known Gordias was reputedly the founder of the Phrygian capital city Gordium, the maker of the legendary Gordian Knot, and the father of the legendary King Midas who turned whatever he touched to gold. The various legends about this Gordias and Midas imply that they lived sometime in the 2nd millennium BC.

Keith DeVries

Keith Robert DeVries (January 2, 1937 – July 16, 2006) was a prominent archaeologist and expert on the Phrygian city of Gordium, in what is now Turkey. He was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

As an excavator, DeVries worked at Ischia and the excavations at Ancient Corinth. His primary work was at Gordium; there he directed the excavations from 1977 to 1987.DeVries earned his undergraduate degree at the University of Michigan and his doctorate at the University of Pennsylvania. He taught at Pennsylvania for his career, as well as work at its Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology in the Mediterranean section.DeVries died of cancer in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 2006.


Kerkenes (or Kerkenes Dağ; both names are modern) is the largest pre-Hellenistic site from the Anatolian Plateau (Turkey) – 7 km (4 mi) of strong stone defenses, pierced by seven gates, that enclose 2.5 km² (1.0 sq mi). It is located about 200 km (120 mi) east from Ankara (35.06E, 39.75N), between the towns of Yozgat (W) and Sorgun (E).

List of ancient kingdoms of Anatolia

Below is a list of ancient kingdoms in Anatolia. Anatolia (most of modern Turkey) was the home of many ancient kingdoms. This list does not include the earliest kingdoms, which were merely city states, except those that profoundly affected history. It also excludes foreign invaders (such as The Achaemenid Empire, the Macedonian Empire, Roman Empire etc.).

List of ancient settlements in Turkey

Below is the list of ancient settlements in Turkey. There are innumerable ruins of ancient settlements spread all over the country. While some ruins date back to Neolithic times, most of them were settlements of Hittites, Phrygians, Lydians, Ionians, Urartians, and so on.


Midas (; Greek: Μίδας) is the name of at least three members of the royal house of Phrygia.

The most famous King Midas is popularly remembered in Greek mythology for his ability to turn everything he touched into gold. This came to be called the golden touch, or the Midas touch. The Phrygian city Midaeum was presumably named after this Midas, and this is probably also the Midas that according to Pausanias founded Ancyra. According to Aristotle, legend held that Midas died of starvation as a result of his "vain prayer" for the gold touch. The legends told about this Midas and his father Gordias, credited with founding the Phrygian capital city Gordium and tying the Gordian Knot, indicate that they were believed to have lived sometime in the 2nd millennium BC, well before the Trojan War. However, Homer does not mention Midas or Gordias, while instead mentioning two other Phrygian kings, Mygdon and Otreus.

Another King Midas ruled Phrygia in the late 8th century BC, up until the sacking of Gordium by the Cimmerians, when he is said to have committed suicide. Most historians believe this Midas is the same person as the Mita, called king of the Mushki in Assyrian texts, who warred with Assyria and its Anatolian provinces during the same period.A third Midas is said by Herodotus to have been a member of the royal house of Phrygia and the grandfather of an Adrastus who fled Phrygia after accidentally killing his brother and took asylum in Lydia during the reign of Croesus. Phrygia was by that time a Lydian subject. Herodotus says that Croesus regarded the Phrygian royal house as "friends" but does not mention whether the Phrygian royal house still ruled as (vassal) kings of Phrygia.


In classical antiquity, Phrygia (; Ancient Greek: Φρυγία, Phrygía [pʰryɡía]; Turkish: Frigya) was a kingdom in the west central part of Anatolia, in what is now Asian Turkey, centered on the Sangarios River. After its conquest, it became a region of the great empires of the time.

Stories of the heroic age of Greek mythology tell of several legendary Phrygian kings:

Gordias, whose Gordian Knot would later be cut by Alexander the Great

Midas, who turned whatever he touched to gold

Mygdon, who warred with the AmazonsAccording to Homer's Iliad, the Phrygians participated in the Trojan War as close allies of the Trojans, fighting against the Achaeans. Phrygian power reached its peak in the late 8th century BC under another, historical, king: Midas, who dominated most of western and central Anatolia and rivaled Assyria and Urartu for power in eastern Anatolia. This later Midas was, however, also the last independent king of Phrygia before Cimmerians sacked the Phrygian capital, Gordium, around 695 BC. Phrygia then became subject to Lydia, and then successively to Persia, Alexander and his Hellenistic successors, Pergamon, Rome and Byzantium. Phrygians gradually became assimilated into other cultures by the early medieval era; after the Turkish conquest of Anatolia, the name "Phrygia" passed out of usage as a territorial designation.


The Phrygians (Greek: Φρύγες, Phruges or Phryges) were an ancient Indo-European people, initially dwelling in the southern Balkans – according to Herodotus – under the name of Bryges (Briges), changing it to Phryges after their final migration to Anatolia, via the Hellespont.

From tribal and village beginnings, the state of Phrygia arose in the eighth century BC with its capital at Gordium. During this period, the Phrygians extended eastward and encroached upon the kingdom of Urartu, the descendants of the Hurrians, a former rival of the Hittites.

Meanwhile, the Phrygian Kingdom was overwhelmed by Cimmerian invaders around 690 BC, then briefly conquered by its neighbour Lydia, before it passed successively into the Persian Empire of Cyrus the Great and the empire of Alexander and his successors, was taken by the Attalids of Pergamon, and eventually became part of the Roman Empire. The last mention of the Phrygian language in literature dates to the fifth century AD and it was likely extinct by the seventh century.


Polatlı (formerly Ancient Greek: Γορδιον, Gòrdion and Latin: Gordium) is a city and a district in Ankara Province in the Central Anatolia region of Turkey, 80 km west of the Turkish capital Ankara, on the road to Eskişehir. According to 2010 census, population of the district is 117,473 of which 98,605 live in the city of Polatlı. The district covers an area of 3,789 km², and the average elevation is 850 m.

Ptolemy (son of Seleucus)

Ptolemy (Greek: Πτολεμαῖος); died 333 BC) son of Seleucus from Orestis or Tymphaia, was one of the select officers called Somatophylaces, or guards of the king's person; he combined with that distinguished post the command of one of the divisions of the phalanx. Ptolemy was from an upper noble family. He was lately married when he accompanied Alexander on his expedition to Asia, 334 BC, on which account he was selected by the king to command the body of Macedonians, who were allowed to return home for the winter at the end of the first campaign. In the following spring he rejoined Alexander at Gordium, with the troops under his command, accompanied by fresh reinforcements. At the Battle of Issus (333 BC) his division of the phalanx was one of those opposed to the Greek mercenaries under Darius III, and upon which the real brunt of the action consequently devolved; and he himself fell in the conflict, after displaying the utmost valour.

Rodney Young (archaeologist)

Rodney Stuart Young (born August 1, 1907, in Bernardsville, New Jersey, – died October 25, 1974, in Chester Springs, Pennsylvania) was an American Near Eastern archaeologist. He is known for his excavation of the city of Gordium, capital of the ancient Phrygians and associated with the legendary king, Midas.Young received an A.B. in Classics from Princeton University in 1929, and then an M.A. from Columbia University in 1932, written under the direction of William Dinsmoor, Sr. In 1940 Young earned his Ph.D. in classics and archaeology from Princeton University. He had excavated in the agora at Athens before becoming Curator of the Mediterranean Section of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology and Professor of Classical Archaeology at the University of Pennsylvania in 1950, where he helped to build the graduate program known today as the Graduate Group in the Art and Archaeology of the Mediterranean World. At the same juncture, Young began a series of new excavations at Gordium and continued as director until his untimely death in 1974. His major work on Phrygian tumuli - including the famed "Midas Mound" or Tumulus MM was published posthumously. After his death the leadership of the excavations eventually passed to his student, G. Kenneth Sams, now Professor of Classical Archaeology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Among the scholars who also worked on this excavation team was the archaeologist Theresa Howard Carter.

During World War II, Young volunteered in Greece as an ambulance driver, and was wounded on the Epirus front. He received a Bronze Star from the United States and the Croix de Guerre from Greece for his service.Young was active in his field, serving as president of the Archaeological Institute of America from 1968 to 1972 and was Charles Elliot Norton Lecturer in 1968/1969. His professional interests concentrated on Greek and Phrygian archaeology, art, and history, the Early Iron Age, and early writing. Young died in an automobile accident near his home in Chester Springs, Pennsylvania.

Royal Road

The Royal Road was an ancient highway reorganized and rebuilt by the Persian king Darius the Great (Darius I) of the first (Achaemenid) Persian Empire in the 5th century BCE. Darius built the road to facilitate rapid communication throughout his very large empire from Susa to Sardis. Mounted couriers of the Angarium were supposed to travel 1677 miles (2699 km) from Susa to Sardis in nine days; the journey took ninety days on foot. The Greek historian Herodotus wrote, "There is nothing in the world that travels faster than these Persian couriers." Herodotus's praise for these messengers—"Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds"— was inscribed on the James Farley Post Office in New York and is sometimes thought of as the United States Postal Service creed.

Zopyrus (disambiguation)

Zopyrus (; Ancient Greek: Ζώπυρος, Zōpyros) may refer to:

Zopyrus (6th century BC), a Persian satrap of Babylon mentioned in Herodotus' Histories

Zopyrus II, grandson of the satrap and son of Megabyzus and Amytis

Zopyrus of Tarentum, an engineer and Pythagorean (5th century BC) credited with the invention of two advanced forms of the gastraphetes and the protagonist of the novel The Arrows of Hercules (1965)

Zopyrus of Heraclea, author of three Orphic poems whose authorship is also ascribed to Brontinus, The Net, The Robe and The Krater (possibly the same as Zopyrus of Tarentum, or possibly as early as the 6th century BC)

Zopyrus (physiognomist) (5th century BC), a physiognomist (possibly the same as the Thracian tutor of Alcibiades mentioned in the Platonic First Alcibiades, 122b)(see also, Cicero's De Fato V)

Zopyrus (dialogue), a dialogue by Phaedo of Elis, in which Zopyrus the physiognomist practices his art on Socrates

Zopyros perikaiomenos (Zopyrus on Fire), a comedy by Strattis

Zopyrus of Clazomenae (early 3rd century BC), credited with introducing the rhetorical concept of stasis

Zopyrus of Magnesia (ca. 300 BC?), proponent of singing Homeric poetry in the Aeolic dialect and probable author of a history (FGrHist 494), The Foundation of Miletus, cited in the scholium to Iliad 10.274

Zopyrus, a soldier of Antigonus II Gonatas (3rd century BC) said to have killed Pyrrhus of Epirus

Zopyrus (silversmith) (1st century BC)

Zopyrus (physician) (1st century BC), teacher of Apollonius of Citium at Alexandria

Zopyrus of Gordium (1st century AD), a physician and acquaintance of Scribonius Largus, from Gordium (or perhaps Gortyn), possibly to be identified with the Epicurean speaker in Plutarch's Symposiaca

Zopyrus (Bishop of Barca), present at the First Council of Nicaea in AD 325: see Cyrenaica and Barca

Aurelios Zopyros (4th century AD), the last reported athlete at the Ancient Olympic Games

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