Abstract: From Phrygian Capital to Roman Fort: Recent Excavations at Gordion (Turkey)


Excavations have taken place at the ancient city of Gordion (Turkey) since 1900, and they have uncovered remains from over 5000 years of human activity at this remarkable site. Most famous as the home of the semi-legendary king Midas and the place where Alexander the Great cut the Gordion Knot, Gordion was the capital of the Phrygian kingdom (ca. 11th to 7th century BC) and held sway over a large portion of central Turkey. Subsequently conquered by the Lydians, the Persians, the Macedonians and the Galatians, the site eventually became home to a small village during the Roman period, after the emperor Augustus annexed the region (known as Galatia) around 25 BC. Little is currently known about the physical, economic and social organization of Roman Galatia’s towns and villages, the rural sites at which 90% of the province’s population once lived. Excavations atop Gordion’s Citadel Mound between 1950 and 1973 uncovered portions of the small Roman-period town, and subsequent analyses of finds from that settlement and its associated cemeteries have confirmed that it was a moderately prosperous Anatolian community occupied between the early 1st to early 5th centuries AD. Unresolved questions regarding aspects of the town’s physical plan, the precise span of its occupation, and its function(s) led to the initiation of a new ten-week excavation project in 2004 and 2005. Work concentrated upon three separate building complexes, each identified during the earlier excavations and located in a different sector of the town. Among the new finds were the remains of Roman weapons and armor as well as a possible barracks building, the first of their type to be discovered in Turkey and confirmation that the town served during the 1st century AD as a minor military post.


Suggested Bibliography/Websites:
“The Roman-period Cemeteries at Gordion in Galatia”. Journal of Roman Archaeology 20 (2007) 299-320.

“From Phrygian Capital to Rural Fort: New Evidence for the Roman Military at Gordion, Turkey”. Expedition 49.3 (Winter 2007) 6-12.

“Reconstructing the Roman-period Town at Gordion,” Chap. 5 in Lisa. K. Kealhofer (ed.), The Archaeology of Midas and the Phrygians: Recent Work at Gordion (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Museum Press, 2005).

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