Within the wooden chamber in Tumulus MM, a body of a man aged 60 – 65 had been placed on a thick pile of dyed textiles inside a unique log coffin. Although the body of the king had disintegrated, patterns of purple and brown dyes were seen on the textile bedding when the tomb was first opened. The king's coffin, which had probably been used in a public viewing ceremony before being carried into the tomb, was accompanied by 14 pieces of wood furniture. These are best interpreted as serving and dining tables for a funerary banquet eaten by the mourners before the interment.

Three large vats (or cauldrons), with a capacity of about 150 liters each and mounted on iron tripod stands, very likely held the beverage that was served at the feast.

A lion-headed situla, another ram-headed situla, 2 jugs with long, sieved spouts, and 19 juglets would have enabled the beverage to be transferred to 5-liter round-bottomed buckets which were inset into the serving tables. From there, it was ladled into 100 finely wrought bronze omphalos drinking bowls and, for those with greater thirsts, 19 large two-handled bowls. The beverage in the vessels was determined to be a mixture of grape wine, barley beer, and honey mead.

The main entrée at the funerary feast appears to have been a spicy lentil and barbecued sheep or goat stew. The meat was first barbecued before it was cut off the bone. Honey, wine, and olive oil may have been used to marinate the meat. The stew would have been served in 18 ceramic jars—handleless dinoi and small “amphoras”—that were discovered in the large vats during excavation.

In 2007 we received additional information about the activities at the royal funeral. While investigating the upper northwest corner of the outer tomb chamber, Richard Liebhart discovered four Phrygian inscriptions incised on several of the timbers: NANA, MYKSOS, SI↑IDOS, and KYRYNIS. The names had clearly been scratched into the beams before they were set in place around 740 BCE. The hand of the inscriber was steady and sure, and all the words appear to have been inscribed by the same man, at approximately the same size, with SI↑IDOS written slightly larger than the other words. The SI↑IDOS beam was also probably the first one to have been placed on the tomb after the funeral ended.

Both NANA and SI↑IDOS are attested in Phrygian inscriptions at Gordion. NANA appears on a sherd found in the so-called South Cellar on the Citadel Mound, from the end of the 8th century BCE (CIPP G-195). More intriguing is the name SI↑IDOS, which had been inscribed in wax on a bronze bowl (MM 68; Ankara Museum Inv. #18441) found within this tomb (CIPP G-103). The full inscription on the bowl reads SI↑IDOSAKOP.

It seems most likely that SI↑IDOS is the name of a prominent man from Gordion who took part in the funeral banquet and subsequently decided to leave not only his bowl, but also his name in the tomb chamber, adding the wax to the bowl that he had used in the ceremony. He apparently also chose to inscribe his name on a beam before it was placed on the tomb. Given the space between NANA and MYKSOS, it looks as if we have four separate names of members of the funeral party, inscribed by the same person, who was most likely SI↑IDOS. One can think of this as an early prototype of the Memorial Name Books that are still used in funerals today.

Further reading