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GORDION Phrygia, Turkey.

A city near the confluence of the Sangarios and Tembris rivers in Anatolia, about 96 km SW of Ankara. Situated on a natural route from the sea to the central Anatolian plateau, it was already settled in the Early Bronze Age. Throughout the Hittite period it was evidently an important provincial town. It reached its greatest development in Phrygian times during the Dark Age following the fall of the Hittite Empire (9th and 8th c. B.C.).

The Phrygian city was sacked at the time of a Kimmerian raid dated to the opening decades of the 7th c. It was rebuilt in the 6th c., probably by Alyattes the Lydian king, as a market and garrison town. In the early years of the Persian Empire, Darius reorganized the ancient route to the Aegean sea by creating the Royal Road, of which stretches have been uncovered at Gordion. Visits by a number of travelers following the Royal Road are recorded: by the Satrap Pharnabazos in 411; by Agesilaos in 395; and by Alexander, who is alleged to have cut the Gordian knot during his visit in 333. Later the king of Bithynia settled Galatians who had crossed into Asia in the region subsequently known as Galatia. In B.C. 189 Manlius Volso, leading a Roman army to chastise the Gauls for their depredations, found the city deserted. It was never resettled as a place of importance; Strabo speaks of the old Phrygian capital as a mere hamlet in his time.

The Phrygian city, burned about 690 B.C., was surrounded by a massive wall of coursed masonry pierced by gates at E, N, and W. The E gateway, completely cleared, still stands to a height of 9 m and comprises a ramped central passageway with the gate itself at the inner end and flanking courts at either side. Within the city the palace occupied a large area shut off from the rest of the town by its own enclosure walls. A number of separate buildings grouped around a central plaza have been cleared. All were laid out on the same “megaron” plan of inner room with round central hearth, entered only through a vestibule in front. The buildings were all constructed of stone or of crude brick strengthened by frameworks of timber and covered by gable roofs of clay spread over reed beddings. In the largest megaron, which had a width of more than 15 m, two rows of wooden posts helped support the roof. At least three of the buildings were adorned by floors of pebble mosaic laid in geometric patterns; the walls of one were scribbled over by graffito drawings which illustrate the contemporary 8th c. scene. On a terrace to the S of the plaza a long building of eight adjoining rooms housed the service area of the palace. There were clearly several phases and successive building periods of the town which must extend well back into the 9th c. B.C.

The cemeteries lay around the city on higher ground above the river valley. Royalty and the wealthy had tumuli heaped over their graves. The greatest tumulus, 53 m in height, covered a tomb constructed of wood with gabled roof, admirably preserved. The sole occupant must have been a king, probably the predecessor of King Midas. With him were buried Phrygian inlaid wooden furniture and many bronze vessels. The finds from tombs and city are shown at the local Gordion museum and in the Ankara Museum.


G. & A. Korte, Gordion, JdI suppl. V (1904); M. J. Mellink, A Hittite Cemetery at Gordion, University Museum Monograph (1956); R. S. Young, “Early Mosaics at Gordion,” Expedition 7 (1965) 4-13; id., “Gordion on the Royal Road,” ProcPhilSoc 107 (1963) 348-64MPI; id., Gordion, A Guide, Archaeological Museum of Ankara (1969); id., “Old Phrygian Inscriptions from Gordion,” Hesperia 38 (1969) 252-96.


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