|Iron Age Gordion|
|Early Phrygian Gordion|
|Middle Phrygian Gordion|
|Tumuli at Gordion|
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Gordion is best known as the principal center of the Phrygians and their civilization, and as the ruling seat of the most famous Phrygian king, Midas. After a relatively modest Early Iron Age phase that may mark the beginning of Phrygian settlement on the Citadel Mound at Gordion (ca. 1200–950 BCE), the site took on a truly monumental character during the Early Phrygian period (ca. 950-800 BCE), indicating the emergence of a Phrygian state. We can trace the growth of Phrygian political power into the Middle Phrygian Iron Age (ca. 800–550 BCE) as reflected by architecture and the increasingly massive construction works. It was during this period, in the late eighth century under Midas, that Phrygian power reached its zenith.
The territory of Phrygia, as determined from the growing number of find spots of Phrygian inscriptions (eighth to fourth centuries BCE) and from information in Greek writers (fifth and fourth centuries BCE), comprised a very large area of Anatolia. As is now known, the Phrygian language was spoken from Daskyleion in the Marmara region of northwestern Turkey, eastward to Kerkenes in the Yozgat province of Central Anatolia, and as far south as Bayındır in Antalya province in Turkey’s Mediterranean region.
Early Iron Age Gordion (ca. 1200–950 BCE)
Around 1200 BCE many of the Bronze Age sites in central and south Anatolia were destroyed, including the Hittite capital Boğazköy-Hattusha. From the breakup of the Hittite empire a number of Iron Age successor states emerged.
Early Iron Age Gordion is known only from very limited,
deep sondages on the eastern part of the Citadel Mound. A coherent picture has begun to emerge, however, suggesting a succession of villages with small, lightly constructed houses containing every-day, domestic kinds of items. Two phases have been identified. The earliest (Voigt’s YHSS 7B) is stratified directly above the Late Bronze Age level with no sign of a stratigraphic break to indicate a significant hiatus after the fall of the Hittites. Nevertheless, there are clear changes in architecture, domestic features, ceramics, and animal remains between the Late Bronze and the Early Iron Age.
Architectural change is represented by a number of “pit-houses,” which take the form of a shallow rectangular pit sometimes faced with flat stones. The walls above them were made from a framework of reeds and branches covered with mud plaster. A building from Voigt’s later Early Iron Age phase (YHSS 7A), the “Burned Reed House,” is larger with walls made of posts and reeds coated with thick mud plaster.
The ceramic finds do not support a gradual transition from the Late Bronze into the Early Iron Age; instead, the evidence strongly suggests a population change at this time, rather than simply a shift in political and economic organization. Few Early Iron Age sites have been excavated in Anatolia, but similarities in pottery (handmade shapes and specific details of incised or impressed decoration) point to a Thracian or more distant southeastern European origin for the immigrant group. This has been taken to mark the beginning of the presence of Phrygians, who reportedly migrated from Europe into Anatolia according to later Greek writers. The evidence also fits well with the current standard linguistic analysis of Phrygian as an Indo-European language with close links to Greek. Indeed, Phrygian appears to have been intrusive into Anatolia, where another, very different class of Indo-European languages—Hittite and Luwian—was dominant during the Bronze Age.
While there are subsequent changes in the succeeding Early Phrygian period at Gordion, including the appearance of additional pottery forms and wares perhaps deriving from the Balkans, there is strong overall cultural continuity down to the 8th century BCE, when writing begins.