In the course of our two–month season we were able to undertake an unusually wide range of activities, with a focus on architectural conservation and renewed excavation. As in past years, we also devoted a considerable amount of attention to the study of previously excavated material, which was easier than ever before due to the new and spacious pottery depot that we constructed during the 2012 season. In the course of the summer we worked in more than 10 different sectors of the site, and there were over 35 scholars and scientists who were members of the team at various points in June and July.

Conservation and Restoration

The Ministry of Culture and Tourism has continually asked the directors of archaeological projects in Turkey to focus the majority of their energy on archaeological conservation and site improvement for visitors. This is a direction in which all Mediterranean countries are steadily moving, and we embraced it wholeheartedly this summer. Gordion’s conservation program is conducted under the auspices of Penn’s graduate program in Historic Preservation, and supervised by Frank Matero in tandem with Angelo Lanza and Elisa del Bono. Architectural conservation in 2013 was divided between the Early Phrygian Terrace Building (figs. 1–2), or industrial quarter, the Early Phrygian pebble mosaic (fig. 3) and the Early Phrygian city gate (fig. 4), all of which date to the 9th century BCE. The former structure consists of two long rows of buildings—eight in each row positioned on either side of a 16 meter wide court—which were filled with textile and grain processing equipment.

The walls of these buildings were heavily damaged in the conflagration that swept through Gordion’s citadel in 800 BCE, and the stones had become badly cracked and splayed. In the course of the summer, we completed the conservation treatments of several walls in the third and fifth rooms, which included epoxy repair of fractured blocks and the installation of stainless-steel cables within the walls to reinforce their stability (fig. 2). The discovery of a 9th century BCE iron rake that had been used to tend the hearth in one of the rooms was an unexpected bonus. The remaining walls in the fifth room were also documented, as was the stone pavement in front of the megarons, in order to plan for future conservation. As in earlier years, the tops of the conserved walls were covered with geotextile, above which we installed a “soft cap” of shallow rooted grass framed by mudbrick, which hinders the movement of moisture into the masonry.

Conservation work also continued on the pebble mosaic discovered by Rodney Young within Megaron 2, an elite public building on the east side of the Citadel Mound (fig. 3). This is still the earliest pebble mosaic ever to have been discovered (9th century BCE), and it features elaborate polychromatic geometric designs that resemble a cluster of small carpets. When the mosaic was uncovered in the 1950s, it was cut into sections for transport to the Gordion Museum, but those panels are now desperately in need of conservation and restoration, and due to the generosity of the J.M. Kaplan Fund, we were able to move forward with the necessary treatment to stabilize the pebbles through re-grouting and to design new panel supports that will allow for a better display. The work was supervised by Frank Matero, Elisa del Bono, Angelo Lanza, Ayşem Kilinç-Ünlü, and Meredith Keller.

The other major conservation project was the Early Phrygian Gate at Gordion (9th century BCE), which is the best-preserved Iron Age citadel gate in Asia Minor (fig. 4). After the earthquake of 1999, however, a bulge developed in the masonry of the gate’s south wall, and the bulge has gradually become worse. We therefore developed a four-year restoration program that will correct the damaged wall and ensure its stability in the event of another earthquake. The master plan was developed by Frank Matero in tandem with structural engineer David Biggs, and it has been generously supported by the J.M. Kaplan Fund.

Two sondages on either side of the gate’s south wall were designed to check the stability of the foundations and the pressures exerted by the fill against the wall. We discovered that the foundations are stable, but the stones of the bulge need to be taken down and set back up again after we cut back the rubble core that is exerting pressure on the stones. This will mean that next year, in 2014, 4 meters (11 courses) of stones—those that have been affected by the bulge—will need to be removed from the south wall of the gate. To do so, new scaffolding next to the wall will have to be erected, and horizontal stainless steel straps will need to be inserted into the wall to lock in place the repaired facing stones.

The visitors’ circuit that encircles Gordion’s citadel has been in need of improvement for a long time, and the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism justifiably asked us to make this one of our principal objectives in 2013. To that end, eleven new bilingual information signs were installed around the Citadel Mound so that visitors will now have access to the full history of Gordion’s settlements (fig. 5). Elisa del Bono and Angelo Lanza installed over 100 meters (330 ft.) of new stone staircases on the visitors’ circuit (fig. 6), and the path was leveled with a kepçe or front–end loader (fig. 7). By the end of the season, we had replaced half of the old barbed wire fence that encircled the site with nearly 400 meters (1,300 ft.) of a new galvanized steel fence, thereby transforming the viewing of the site into a much more pleasant experience. In addition to the eleven information signs, we added twelve new signs to the center of the mound so that the individual megarons and terrace buildings can be easily identified by the visitor.


In 2007 I imposed a moratorium on new excavation because the pace of publication was not moving as rapidly as we would have liked. During the last three years, however, six new Gordion volumes have been published, and we have reached a point where new excavation is needed in order to answer a number of outstanding questions regarding the history and topography of the Citadel Mound. Consequently, we began a new campaign of excavations this summer with the intention of refining our understanding of the citadel’s development during the Early, Middle, and Late Phrygian periods. At the same time, we wanted to choose an area that formed part of our master plan for conservation at the site, so that excavation and conservation could work hand in hand.

Our targeted excavation site (fig. 8) was one of the least investigated areas of the citadel: a monumental street running directly through the mound, which appears to have served as the city’s principal thoroughfare for nearly 600 years (fig. 9). It looks as if the street was over 7 meters wide with a total length of ca. 285 meters, and it was completely filled in at the beginning of the Hellenistic period. Why Gordion built such a monumental street that effectively divided the mound into two halves is an issue that has never been clarified, largely because only a few excavations occurred there under Rodney Young.

Remote sensing near the entrance to the street yielded indications of a monumental structure composed of stone and mudbrick, and this was the area where we positioned the trench (figs. 8 and 10). This location had the advantage of lying directly below the Mosaic Building, an imposing structure excavated by Rodney Young that featured polychromatic pebble mosaics and was probably intended for the region’s Persian administrator (fig. 11). Conservation of this building and the surrounding area had always been one of our objectives, and the new excavation therefore constituted part of a larger program designed to showcase a new area of the site to visitors.

The trench, which measured 11 x 14 meters (36 x 46 ft.), was in operation for six and a half weeks, and the discoveries within it spanned a period from the Early Phrygian period (9th century BCE) to the Early Roman period (1st century CE). The most significant discovery was a freestanding wall on top of a stepped stone glacis or terrace wall (figs. 12–14). This structure runs for a length of 9 meters across the trench, from southwest to northeast. It clearly continued beyond the limits of the trench: the remote sensing results demonstrate that it stretched for at least another 20 meters to the east, and ca. 10 meters to the west. In other words, it was enormous.

Both the glacis and the freestanding wall above it were constructed of large rectangular white limestone blocks. We revealed 13 steps of the glacis although it probably continues down around 3–4 meters (10-13 ft.), which means that the glacis and the wall it supported rose to a height of nearly 10 meters (33 ft). This is clearly part of the citadel’s fortification system, and possibly connected to a gate.

The only other surviving walls within the Citadel Mound that are in any way similar in construction technique date to the Early Phrygian period (9th century BCE), and since the top of the glacis is so much lower here than the Middle Phrygian glacis at the main gate, our wall and glacis are probably of Early Phrygian date. We need to explore the area in more detail next year to be certain of the date, but if this is correct, we have uncovered the first evidence that the monumental retaining walls for the citadel were inaugurated as early as the 9th century BCE.

Such a date also fits with two other structures discovered in the trench. At the south of the glacis, and perpendicular to it, was a roughly built wall constructed with mostly unshaped soft white limestones (fig. 12–14). The visible width of this wall measured just under 3 meters (9 ft.), and it extended over 4 meters (14 ft.) to the southern limit of the trench.

The eastern face bears a striking resemblance to the Middle Phrygian packing material seen at the main gate. This could suggest that the rubble wall was in fact the remains of Middle Phrygian packing material against the face of an Early Phrygian stepped glacis, extending the side of the mound out to another retaining wall, as has been done at the main gate.

There was another monumental structure to the north of the trench, which appears also in the remote sensing images. This may be the gate for which we are searching, although more research is necessary to be certain. The structure was composed of colorful blocks ranging from pinks/purples and reds, to yellow, green, dark grey and grey/white (figs. 12–13). The type of construction is suggestive of a Middle Phrygian date (8th/7th century BCE).

That structure appears to have collapsed in an earthquake that occurred around 400 BCE, and the stones from the wall filled the northern part of the trench. Within the building collapse we also found eight preserved timbers of juniper, and dendrochronological analysis should enable us to pinpoint the construction date more precisely.

This was not an easy trench to excavate, since it lay on the south slope of the Citadel Mound, and we owe a major debt of thanks to the trench supervisors, Sarah Leppard and Simon Greenslade, as well as their assistants, Penn graduate students Lucas Stephens and Kurtis Tanaka, Mehmetcan Soyluoğlu of Ankara University, and Hüseyin Erol of Hacettepe University. Generous financial support was provided by the Selz Foundation, the Loeb Classical Library Foundation of Harvard University, the Luther Replogle Foundation, and the Jordan Foundation.

Considerable preparation was necessary for the new fieldwork, from designing new excavation and data recording systems—with a heavy focus on digital data—to the installation of a new and substantial infrastructure. New mapping standards and a new site grid were also essential, and we took the opportunity to begin correcting the mapping problems that had arisen from earlier investigations (figs. 15–16). The bulk of this preparatory work was carried out by Gareth Darbyshire, Gordion archivist, and Gabriel Pizzorno, Research Associate at the Penn Museum. The mapping of these new excavations, which included architectural recording and photogrammetry, was managed by Pizzorno, assisted by Penn undergraduate Julia Hurley and Yasemin Özarslan of Koç University.

Geophysical Investigations

A week of remote sensing occurred on and around the mound of Gordion, again conducted by Stefan Giese and Christian Hübner of GGH, Inc. in Freiburg, Germany, and assisted by Penn graduate students Lucas Stephens, Kurtis Tanaka, and Patricia Kim. There were two primary targets of investigation: 1) the area between the new trench and the Mosaic Building, which required the removal of a large dump left in that area by Rodney Young; and 2) in the Outer Town, which is a Phrygian-period residential district lying west of the Citadel Mound.

In the area between the new trench and the Mosaic Building, the Geophysics Team used both electric resistivity and magnetometry, which measures sub-surface magnetic anomalies. Their work demonstrated that the large glacis discovered during excavations this year continues in the direction of the Mosaic Building, as does the large structure to the north of the glacis.

Geophysical investigations in the Outer Town had taken place on a very limited scale in 2008, but during the summer of 2013 we began to survey the area on a much larger scale, and far more systematically. We discovered that a large wall, probably of mudbrick, appears to have completely encircled the residential area there, with a defensive ditch in front of it (fig. 17). Resistivity indicates that the ditch was approximately 4–5 meters wide, which is considerably larger than the late Bronze Age ditch that protected the residential district of Troy, and therefore a significant discovery. We also assisted the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations in Ankara in surveying the Beyceğiz Tumulus, a monumental burial mound, probably of Phrygian date, where the museum is currently conducting a rescue excavation.


The excavation house was filled with researchers working on a wide variety of manuscripts, spanning a period from Bronze Age through Medieval (fig. 18). These included, among others, Penn graduate student Sam Holzman on the ceramic pegs that formed part of wall mosaics in Late Phrygian Gordion; Askold Ivantchik and Lada Sementchenko on the arrowheads; Gareth Darbyshire on the iron objects, Maya Vassileva on the bronzes, Shannan Stewart and Martin Wells on the Hellenistic architecture and ceramics, Galya Bacheva on the Late Phrygian ceramics, Carolyn Aslan and Gülsah Günata on the late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age ceramics, Kathleen Lynch on Greek ceramics, Scott Redford on the Islamic pottery, Penn graduate student Kate Morgan on Phrygian weaving equipment, Richard Liebhart on the architecture of Tumulus MM, Mary Voigt on the publication of her excavation seasons of 1988 and 1989; and Ken Sams on the Early Phrygian Terrace Building.

Three more monographs are scheduled to be published next year: Phoebe Sheftel on the ivories, Ken Harl on the coins of Gordion, and John (Mac) Marston on Gordion’s ancient environment. Last November also witnessed the publication of The Archaeology of Phrygian Gordion, the proceedings of a conference volume that contains 18 articles spanning six centuries of Gordion’s history, from the beginning of the Early Phrygian period through the arrival of Alexander.

I want to single out several members of the staff without whom this summer’s work could not have functioned as well as it did: Ayşe Gürsan-Salzmann, Assistant Director; Shannan Stewart, head of ceramics and small find analysis; Gabriel Pizzorno, head of digital operations and mapping; and Penn graduate student Patricia Kim, registrar. The object conservation work was expertly overseen by Angela Elliot, Jessica Johnson, Cricket Harbeck, Donna Strahan, and Colleen O’Shea; faunal analysis by Canan Çakırlar and Mirjam Post of Groeningen University; paleobotany by Naomi Miller; and photography by Ali Rıza Akalın. Billur Tekkök of Başkent University generously supplied advice on Hellenistic and Roman ceramics; Ken Jordan provided indispensable support regarding the organization of the pottery depot; and Zekeriya Utğu, our house manager and guard, kept everything running efficiently.

Our work during the 2013 season was made easier due to the energetic support of our representative, Müge Küçük of the Ankara Provincial Ministry of Culture and Tourism, by Enver Sağır, the acting director of the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations in Ankara, and by Halil Demirdelen, the museum’s deputy director. We also extend warm thanks to the General Directorate for Cultural Properties and Museums, especially Abdullah Kocapınar, General Director, Melik Ayaz, Head of Excavations and Survey, Umut Görgülü, and Zeynep Boz for their assistance and guidance.

During the summer we were fortunate that several Friends of Gordion visited the site and offered their advice and encouragement. This was especially true during the visit in July of Julian Siggers, Williams Director of the Penn Museum, Marianne Lovink, Charles Williams, former director of the Corinth Excavations and an emeritus member of the Museum’s Board of Overseers, and Amanda Mitchell-Boyask, Director of Development at the Penn Museum. During this period Drs. Siggers, Williams, and I met with Abdullah Kocapınar and Enver Sağır in Ankara, and we agreed to strengthen the cultural collaborations between the Penn Museum and the Republic of Turkey. Another special evening occurred at the end of July, when we were visited by Abdullah Kocapınar, Melek Ayaz, Zülküf Yılmaz, Gökhan Bozkurtlar, Umut Görgülü, Zeynep Boz, Enver Sağır, and Halil Demirdelen (fig. 19). This is the first time in the history of the Gordion project that we have had so many visitors from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, and it was a great honor for us and for the site.