One of the major Phrygian sites lies in the eastern outskirts of the Phrygian Highlands, in the area between Afyon and Eskişehir. The ancient name of the site is unknown, but since the late 19th century it has been referred to by its nickname, "Midas City." W. M. Ramsay coined this label because the name of Midas was inscribed above a huge rock-cut façade at the site.
Midas City is located on a comparatively low but very large outcropping formed of volcanic tuff. The site was excavated before and after the Second World War by the French Archaeological Institute in Istanbul, and again during the 1990s by the Eskişehir Museum, which carried out rescue excavations and some restoration. The excavated architectural remains all belonged to a single settlement datable to the Achaemenid period, specifically, to the sixth through fourth centuries BCE. Since this settlement was built on the bedrock itself, there were no preserved structures of earlier settlements; yet there must have been a more prosperous settlement here during the Middle Phrygian period, especially the sixth century, because many of the rock-cut monuments at Midas City date to this period. Other discoveries at the site datable to the same time include decorated architectural terracottas, monumental statues, and imported painted pottery from Lydia and Greece. This was probably the most prosperous period at Midas City.
There are an unusually large number of religious monuments at Midas City compared with other known Phrygian sites, and it is possible that the site functioned as a cultic center for the Phrygians in addition to being a regular settlement. The rock-cut monuments are of different types, such as façades, niches, stepped monuments, idols, and tombs. The largest and most impressive façade is the so-called Midas Monument, which can be seen from far away when approaching the site from Gordion. This façade, probably dating to the first half of the 6th century, measures more than 16 m in both height and width and is a rock-cut imitation of a Phrygian megaron. It has a low-pitched roof, probably imitating an actual tiled roof, which was crowned with a volute akroterion. The wall below carries geometric decoration – a series of polygonal forms in relief that give the facade the appearance of a labyrinth. Phrygian megarons may also have featured geometric decoration in the form of a wooden screen wall, and some of the excavated megarons at Gordion were once crowned with similar huge akroteria.
The focal point of the Midas Monument is the niche shaped in the form of a door entrance. A dowel hole in the ceiling tells us that the niche once contained a statue, now missing, but almost certainly representing the Phrygian Mother Goddess. Above the façade on the rock wall itself is an Old Phrygian inscription indicating that a high priest (?) named Ates dedicated this monument to the King and Leader Midas.
Also cut from the rock are several tunnels with flights of steps situated along the borders of the outcropping. Two tunnels start from the plateau itself, while a system of interconnected tunnels is situated on the terrace below, on the southwestern side, but still inside the fortification system. The tunnels have not been completely excavated but they probably descend to water sources. One of their main purposes must have been to provide water to the settlement, which meant that the settlement would have had access to water in case of a siege.
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Berndt, D. 1994. “Langsam stirbt Kybele. Fortschreitende Zerstörung phrygischer Felsdenkmäler," Antike Welt 25, pp. 166-171.
Haspels, C. H. E. 1971. The Highlands of Phrygia. Princeton.