Gordium – When Alexander the Great met King Midas

Gordium (Gordion) was likely Meshech’s capital. It was situated where the Sangarius (Sakarya) River was crossed by the Royal Road of Persian Kings. As a result, it was a bustling commercial area. Old Testament Ezekiel 27:13 makes mention of Meshech’s slave and bronze trade

According to recent excavations,

it was inhabited as early as the third millennium BCE. The city was a significant Hittite outpost with Assyrian colonists also residing there between the years 2000 and 1200 BCE. When the Phrygians arrived, starting in the ninth century BCE, the city became even more active. Under them, it saw its greatest prosperity in the eighth century BCE. By the year 690, Cimmerians overran the region and obliterated the city. The city was rebuilt by the Lydians, but Cyrus and his troops once more destroyed it in 547–546 BCE. However, it reclaimed its status as a major commercial and military hub under the Persians. The city was taken from the Persians by Alexander the Great in 333 BCE, but the Gauls razed it to the ground in 278 BCE. The city was entirely abandoned by the year 200 CE. Excavated Hittite burials from the 17th and 16th centuries BCE have some of its contents on display at the Anatolian Civilizations Museum in Ankara.

Alexander the Great severed the legendary Gordian knot.

It was supposedly tied by King Gordius of Phrygia. An oracle prophesied that whoever could untie the knot would become the ruler of Asia. When Alexander the Great visited Gordium he couldn’t unravel the knot conventionally. Frustrated(?), he simply cut it with his sword. This bold act was interpreted as fulfilling the prophecy, and Alexander went on to conquer Persia but was stalled in Afghanistan and India.

Nearly a hundred tumulus burials

date to the Phrygian and Galatian eras. Above the beautifully rolling terrain, these stand out. King Midas’ tumulus has been classified as the largest one. It still has some wooden furniture in it that came from his palace, most likely. The majority of the artifacts discovered in the tumuli are preserved in the Ankara Museum, including ivory-inlaid furniture from pre-Cimmerian times (when Conan roamed), wooden statues, vases, bronze cauldrons, silver and gold jewelry, and images of Cybele (the Mother Goddess) that were employed in religious rituals. The earliest documented instances of beautiful geometric patterns produced with colorful pebbles in Anatolia can be found in the palaces and public structures of the Phrygian period. The mosaic method implies that the creators might have been familiar with weaving or with basketry.

King Midas is a legendary figure

in Greek mythology who was granted a wish by the god Dionysus. Always be skeptical when a god offers you a wish. Lear knew that

As flies to wanton boys are we to th’ gods,
They kill us for their sport.

But Midas thoughtlessly chose to have everything he touched turn to gold. This wish ultimately proved to be a curse. Midas (without the touch) may or may not be an historical figure. And but the discovery of the Midas Tomb sparked interest in the connection between the legend and the archaeological site.

The Midas Tomb was discovered by archaeologist Gustav Körte in 1957 during excavations at Gordium. The tomb dates back to the 8th century BCEE and is considered one of the most significant archaeological finds related to the Phrygian civilization.

Archaeological Significance: The tomb itself is a large burial mound known as a tumulus. Inside the tomb, archaeologists found various burial goods, including pottery and artifacts. Notably, they also discovered a wooden burial chamber containing a royal Phrygian burial, which is believed to be associated with King Midas or a member of his dynasty.

Inscriptions: One of the most intriguing aspects of the tomb is the presence of inscriptions that mention “Midas.” These inscriptions have contributed to the speculation that the tomb may belong to King Midas.

While the Midas Tomb has not been proven to be the final resting place of the legendary King Midas, it remains a significant archaeological site providing insights into the history and culture of the Phrygian civilization.

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By Cascoly

I've been exploring and leading trips for over 40 years. climbing & trekkng in the Alps, Andes, North American mountain ranges and the Himalaya. I'm retired from mountaineering now but world travels in Europe, Africa & Asia continue to expand my portfolio. Besides private travel, I now focus on escorting trips to India & Turkey. Other interests include wide reading in history and vegetable gardening / cooking. You can download digital images here, or find images at https://steve-estvanik.pixels.com. We have many thousands of images we haven't displayed yet; so, if you have a special need or request please contact us