The excavation of Gordion, the capital of the Phrygian Civilization, was conducted by Gustav Körte and Alfred Körte in 1900, and subsequently by the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, under the guidance of Rodney S. Young, from 1950 to 1973. The excavations continued at the site under the auspices of the University of Pennsylvania Museum with an international team, directed by Keith DeVries (1977–1987), G. Kenneth Sams and Mary M. Voigt (1988–2006), G. Kenneth Sams and C. Brian Rose (2006–2012), and C. Brian Rose (2012–present). The most fascinating finds from Gordion are on display at the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations in Ankara. Some finds from Gordion are also in the Istanbul Archaeological Museums and the Gordion Museum, located in the village Yassıhöyük near Gordion itself.
The Museum of Anatolian Civilizations was founded in 1921, initially as the Ankara Archaeological Museum. The museum has numerous exhibits of Anatolian archaeology. They start with the Palaeolithic era, and continue chronologically through the Neolithic, Early Bronze, Assyrian trading colonies, Hittite, Phrygian, Urartian, Greek, Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, Seljuk, and Ottoman periods. There is also an extensive collection of artefacts, including the ones from the excavations at Gordion.
Below we present the photos of the most important and beautiful artefacts from Gordion, now on display in the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations in Ankara.
- Phrygian inlaid table
- Serving stands from Tumulus MM
- Phrygian terracotta finds
- Bronze cauldron with sirens
- Terracotta vase from Tumulus P
- Goose-shaped vessel
- Collection of bronze objects with a ladle
- Collection of bronze objects with a strainer
- Ram-headed and lion-headed situlae
- Terracotta and glass vessels
- Bronze cauldron
- Wooden objects, including an inlaid stool
- Chariot model with harnessed horses
Phrygian inlaid table
Phrygian inlaid table from Gordion, made in the 8th century BCE. The table was excavated in 1957 from Tumulus MM by a team from the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. The wood of the table was conserved by Robert Payton of the Gordion Furniture Project team (1982-1983).
The inlaid table, called the "Pagoda Table" because of its exotic design and decoration, was made of 46 separate components. The table had three legs, with lion-paw feet, and three structural supports that rose from the feet to prop up the frame at its corners. The four-sided frame was carved as a series of panels, connected by double bars, and inlaid with geometric patterns such as fields of squares or diamonds, configurations of hooks, rosette-like designs, and mazes.
The inlaid table was thus decorated with apotropaic and magical imagery, suggesting that it may have had a ritual function. It was also a practical, portable banquet table, with four handles and a tray-shaped top. Boxwood was used for the frame and legs, juniper for the inlay, and walnut for the table-top.
In 1983, the table was reconstructed for display in the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations in Ankara, where it could be seen assembled for the first time in 2700 years. The mount was refurbished, and the display reinstalled in 1989.
Serving stands from Tumulus MM
The serving stands from Tumulus MM in Gordion, from the 8th century BCE, discovered in 1957. Formerly known as "screens", but the research has now shown that they were not "throne backs" but serving stands. The top pieces featured large wooden rings that had held small bronze cauldrons, ten of which were found nearby in the tomb. Also found near the stands were two bronze ladles, which had undoubtedly been used to transfer the contents of the cauldrons into other vessels. The Tumulus MM serving stands have been assembled for display in the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations in Ankara.
The stands were made of boxwood, inlaid with juniper, with walnut top pieces and curved "legs" set into the front faces. At the centre of each face was an inlaid rosette, supported by two curved legs with stylized lion-paw feet. These elements were set within a grid of inlaid square designs surrounded by thousands of tiny diamonds and triangles. Most of the square designs were symmetrical with respect to rotations of 180 degrees, which allowed several basic designs to be turned and flipped to form derivative versions, adding complexity and obscuring the underlying patterns in which the basic designs had been arranged. This surprising play with symmetry indicates that the Phrygian woodworkers were clever, imaginative artisans with a pronounced mathematical orientation.
Phrygian terracotta finds
Phrygian terracotta finds from Gordion, Alişar Höyük, and unknown places (as stated by the museum), the 8th - the 7th centuries BCE. The artefacts include vases, mugs, rhytons, and jugs.
Bronze cauldron with sirens
Bronze cauldron (the 8th century BCE) from Gordion. It was found in Tumulus MM (for "Midas Mound"), the Great Tumulus, the largest burial mound at Gordion, standing over fifty meters high today, with a diameter of about three hundred meters. The cauldron has four attachments in the form of sirens – hybrids with human heads, shoulders, and arms, and bird wings and tails. Close measurement has shown that each of the sirens was cast from a different mould; later study has brought out the personality of each figure, which differs from that of her sisters. Details of hair, sleeve- and neck-borders of dresses, and feathers of wings and tails are rendered by copious surface engraving.
Terracotta vase from Tumulus P
Phrygian terracotta vase found in Tumulus P (the grave of a royal child) in Gordion. This burial gift, dated to the 8th century BCE, is painted and polished earthenware, decorated with the figures of bulls, lions, stags, and ibexes (or antelopes). It is 30 cm high and the diameter of the upper rim is 18 cm.
The goose-shaped vessel from Gordion, the beginning of the 7th century BCE.
Collection of bronze objects with a ladle
A collection of bronze objects found in Gordion. These bronze artefacts, made in the 8th century BCE, include a jug, a mug, a ladle, and the bull-shaped cauldron handles.
Collection of bronze objects with a strainer
A collection of bronze objects found in Gordion. These bronze artefacts, made in the 8th and the 7th centuries BCE, include a vessel with strainer and pouring lip, a mug, a bowl, a pot, and a goat-shaped rhyton.
Ram-headed and lion-headed situlae
Ram-headed and lion-headed situlae from Gordion. These bronze vessels were made in the late 8th century BCE and were excavated from the Great Tumulus (MM) in Gordion. Ram's head situla in 22 cm in height and its diameter of the rim is 12 cm. The hammered vessel was made of outer and inner pieces, folded together at the rim.
Situla, from the Latin word for a bucket, is a term used to describe a variety of elaborate bucket-shaped vessels dating from the Iron Age to the Middle Ages, usually with a handle at the top. Typically, Iron Age situlae are bronze, and served as libation vessels.
The closer scrutiny of the residues found inside the vessels made by Patrick McGovern from the University of Pennsylvania Museum revealed that these residues included calcium oxalate which is indicative of barley fermentation, tartaric acid, which indicates grape wine, and beeswax compounds, which suggests a fermented honey or mead addition. The resulting "Phrygian grog" as McGovern called it, was likely an ale fermented with barley, grapes, honey, and the potential addition of saffron for colour, taste, and preservation.
Terracotta and glass vessels
Terracotta and glass vessels from Gordion from the 8th and the 7th centuries BCE.
Bronze cauldrons unearthed at Gordion are among the most outstanding finds of Phrygian metal art. Anthropomorphic and zoomorphic protomes that are placed on the rims of some of these round-bodied cauldrons form the decoration of the vessels. The cauldron decorated with a protome of human-headed demon brings the influence of Assyrian art.
Wooden objects, including an inlaid stool
Wooden objects from Gordion, including an inlaid, studded stool. Found near the stand in the southwest corner of the Tumulus P were pieces of a carved wooden stool, inlaid in geometric patterns and studded with bronze tacks. The stool was a colourful production, assembled from alternating strips of boxwood and yew. The boxwood strips, where inlaid, were inlaid with yew, and one yew strip was inlaid with boxwood. The two faces were joined at the top by undecorated strips, and at the bottom by two stretchers, carved on their top and outer faces. The stool was reconstructed on a Plexiglas mount in 1993.
Chariot model with harnessed horses
Chariot model with harnessed horses (Phrygian, made from bronze, found in Gordion, 770 BCE). This chariot model, which belonged to a child, was found in Tumulus P in Gordion, the capital of the Phrygian civilization. The quadriga has two wheels and is drawn by four horses. This artefact, which is a miniature model of a chariot, must have been manufactured as a child's toy.