Abstract: In Search of King Midas: New Discoveries and Reinterpretations at Gordion (Turkey)


For over half of a century, the University of Pennsylvania Museum has conducted excavations at the ancient site of Gordion in central Turkey.  The site is best known as the capital of the Iron Age kingdom of Phrygia and the home of the semi-legendary King Midas, who ruled around 725 BC and whose enormous wealth and power helped to spawn enduring legends of his “golden touch”.   Who was this semi-legendary figure, and what is the current state of our evidence concerning his actual life and accomplishments?  The on-going excavations at Gordion have helped to answer some of these questions, unveiling a society of enormous complexity and shedding much needed light on the history of this elusive ruler and the enigmatic Phrygian people.  Recent research at the site has substantially improved our understanding of Phrygian culture, as well as clarifying other important aspects of the site’s three millennia of occupation.  The application of new archaeological techniques and a fresh study of previous finds have combined to produce dramatic and significant new interpretations about the site’s history, its multicultural heritage and the unheralded preeminence of Phrygian culture in ancient Anatolia.

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