The 2014 season at Gordion marked the second year of a renewed campaign of excavation focused primarily on the settlement’s fortification systems of Early and Middle Phrygian date (9th–6th c. B.C.), even though the majority of our activities continued to be devoted to architectural conservation and restoration. This newsletter provides us with the opportunity to share with you our most recent discoveries and accomplishments in gratitude for your support, and we look forward to the prospect of showing them to you in person at Gordion. As was the case last year, we worked in more than 10 different sectors of the site, and there were nearly 40 scholars and scientists who were members of the team at various points in June, July, and the first half of August.

Architectural Conservation and Restoration

One of the focal points of our conservation activities this year was the stabilization of the Early Phrygian Gate, which is the best-preserved citadel gate in Iron Age Asia Minor (figs. 1, 2). The stones of the gate have remained intact for nearly three millennia, but a significant bulge developed in the masonry following a major earthquake in 1999, and we realized that strategic intervention was necessary if a collapse was to be averted, now and in the future. With generous support provided by the J. M. Kaplan Fund and the Merops Foundation, we had the resources to acquire and erect a new scaffolding system for the gate, supplied by Tamer Kalıp ve İskele Sistemleri in Ankara, that will enable us to remove the displaced stones, repair those that have deteriorated or are damaged, and insert into the wall horizontal stainless steel straps to lock in place the repaired stones. Conservation work on the gate in 2014 also involved repointing work with a lime-based mortar, micro-injections of stone spalls, and epoxy re-attachment of stones on the east side of the South Court.

David Biggs of Biggs Consulting Engineering PLLC, who has been with this project since its inception, created a design for a strong yet flexible galvanized steel scaffold with a timber foundation. We were able to acquire and assemble the latter due to the kind intervention of several individuals and institutions: the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism, especially Mr. Mustafa Bozdemir, Mr. Enver Sağır, director of the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations in Ankara, and Mr. Mürsel Yıldızkaya, Polatlı Belediye Başkanı, who arranged for the free transport of 250 railroad ties that we used for the scaffold’s foundation.

Conservation of the Early Phrygian Terrace Building, an eight room industrial complex with a length of over 100 m, has been ongoing since 2009, with our primary attention devoted to the masonry foundations that were badly damaged in a major conflagration of ca. 800 B.C. Our focus in 2014 was the conservation of the walls in the fifth room (TB-5), which included epoxy repair of fractured blocks, rebuilding the walls with the newly conserved blocks, and the installation of stainless-steel cables to ensure the stability of the splayed walls (fig. 3). Field documentation of the walls of the sixth and seventh rooms (TB-6 and 7) was also completed in preparation for masonry conservation in 2015.

Rodney Young’s excavations at Gordion in 1956 had uncovered the earliest pebble mosaic so far known, probably dating to the second half of the 9th century B.C., and featuring a series of polychromatic geometric designs that most likely echo the kinds of textiles that would have been produced in the adjacent Terrace Building. The best-preserved sections of the mosaic were cut from the floor seven years after excavation, set in concrete with rebar backing, and ultimately exhibited in the Gordion Museum in 1983. Such treatment of an artifact would be anathema to conservators today, and we needed to formulate new strategies to ensure the preservation of the panels. This we accomplished with the assistance of the J.M. Kaplan Fund and the Luther Replogle Foundation.

Some of the solutions were relatively straightforward. One condition affecting many of the panels was the presence of overgrout, a thin but coarse mortar that covered several sections of the panels as a result of the concrete backing process in the 1960s. We were able to remove the grout that obscured the face of several of the panels, while also restoring many of the missing pebbles: replacement stones that matched their original size, color, and shape were carefully selected from a local quarry, and the watercolor drawing of the mosaic produced in the 1950s was used as a base map for recreating the missing designs (figs. 4, 5).

Other procedures were more complex. We removed the concrete backing from one of the panels using a Bosch router, which allowed us to take out half of the concrete matrix up to the rebar backing. Due to the proximity of the rebar to the pebbles, however, we decided to discontinue grinding until next summer, when we plan to apply a new facing to ensure the stability of the original pebbles.

The strategies used for all architectural conservation at Gordion fall under the overall supervision of Frank Matero of Penn’s Historic Preservation program; Elisa del Bono and Angelo Lanza are field directors, and are assisted by Ayşem Kılınç-Ünlü, Meredith Keller, and Giuseppe Bomba. This year we were especially fortunate in having secured the assistance of Ms. Sema Kürekçi of the Ankara Museum’s conservation department, who provided valuable advice regarding the conservation of the pebble mosaics. The entire staff is, as always, enormously grateful to Jeff Morgan and the Morgan Family Foundation for grants in honor of Mark Goodman that make it possible for Penn graduate students in historic preservation to work and conduct research at Gordion. This year’s graduate students from Penn were Jocelyn Chan, Nityaa Iyer, Angelina Jones, and Kevin Wohlgemuth, and all of them played a critically important role in architectural conservation in every area of the site.


The new campaign of excavations that began at Gordion in 2013 focused on the southern side of the Citadel Mound, in an area where we expected to find the southern end of a major street that bisected the mound. What we discovered was a large glacis or stepped terrace wall over 2.5 m in height, dating to the Early Phrygian period, that supported a substantial fortification wall nearly 3 m. wide (figs. 6–8). This had proven that the western side of the mound was fortified, and that those fortifications had already been established in the Early Phrygian period (9th c. B.C.), neither of which had been known previously.

In 2014 that trench was extended toward the east, 15 x 15 m, so that the two trenches together measured 25 m E-W by 15 m N-S (fig. 6). We were fortunate this year in uncovering new fortifications dating to three different periods: Early Phrygian (9th c. BC), Middle Phrygian (8th c. BC) and Late Phrygian (6th c. BC), and we extend our thanks to the Selz Foundation and the Loeb Classical Library Foundation for making this fieldwork possible. The Early Phrygian fortification wall and glacis extended across the entire trench, although not in a straight line. The wall continues for 17 m from the left (western) side of the trench toward the center. There is then a turn in the wall at an obtuse angle of 140 degrees, at which point the wall extends for at least another 9 m, NW-SE, and continues beyond the trench’s eastern limit (figs. 6-8).

The eastern course of this wall, after the turn, appears to have no glacis attached to it; there is only a vertical wall. But the oblique angle of that wall matches the orientation of a street in the Lower Town, uncovered by magnetometry, that led directly toward this area (fig. 13). Consequently, it looks as if we have uncovered the western side of the street that led from the Lower Town into the citadel, and it clearly changed into an inclined ramp as it approached the fortifications. Rodney Young had postulated a similar entrance ramp arrangement in front of the main citadel gate on the mound’s eastern side, and both were structured in such a way that any attacker ascending the ramp would have had his right, unarmed side (i.e. the non-shield-bearing side) exposed to the citadel’s defenders, like the Lion Gate in the Hittite capital of Hattuşa.

After the fire of ca. 800 BC, the Early Phrygian wall was used as the support for a new Middle Phrygian wall, probably constructed in the early 8th c. B.C. The citadel area under protection on this side was extended outward, toward the south, for a distance of nearly 6 m. In the course of enlarging the area, stone rubble was deposited in front of the Early Phrygian glacis, and so it effectively disappeared from view until we uncovered it over 2800 years later (fig. 8).

The face of the wall which the rubble supported was discovered this year nearly 6 m in front of the Early Phrygian wall, although it had been badly damaged in antiquity. The back of the wall was also discovered, and so we can determine its thickness as 8 m or over 26 ft (figs. 6‒8). These are enormous dimensions even for a defensive wall, but the bastions of the main Middle Phrygian gate, which are contemporary with this wall, have the same massive dimensions, and we are probably dealing with a similar bastion here. Remote sensing indicates that this spot marked the juncture of three roads: the aforementioned avenue bisecting the Citadel Mound, and two others leading in from the Lower Town, specifically, from the Küçük Höyük fort and from a gate in the Outer Fortifications. One would expect a defensive installation of great strength at such a strategic sector.

There was another substantial building behind (to the north of) this massive wall, the colored blocks of which have fallen against the Middle Phrygian wall. These stones, easily seen in fig. 9, include bright red, a purple-red, a mild yellow, burnt orange, dark grey, as well as white, and they are strikingly similar to the colored stones that were used to construct the Middle Phrygian Gate. Although its foundations have not yet been uncovered, this wall of colored stones was also probably used for defensive purposes, and its polychromy would have been easily seen by anyone approaching the citadel.

From the Late Phrygian period (ca. 540–333 B.C.) we uncovered a stone wall topped by wood and mudbrick near the eastern side of the trench, which probably belongs to the ramped street that led into the citadel (figs. 6, 7). Within the rubble fill next to the street we discovered a group of fragmentary painted architectural terracottas that date to the middle of the sixth century, and these were undoubtedly deposited there after the Persian attack in the 540s. An expansion of the trench to the north and east next year should produce the complete sloping ramp as well as the streets connected to it on either side, but it is already clear that the scale of the citadel fortifications throughout the entire Phrygian period was much more ambitious than formerly suspected.

The second trench was located in the Terrace Building, the industrial sector that served as a center for textile production and cooking during much of the 9th c. B.C. (figs. 10, 11). Our goal was to clarify the scope of the Early Phrygian building campaign that produced the terrace on which the rooms rested, and to determine whether there was evidence for industrial activity in this area prior to the construction of that terrace (ca. 825 B.C.). The trench, which was situated in room 6 TB-6) of the building, was constrained by the size of the room and the adjacent conservation activities, so it developed into a sondage measuring 5 x 7 m.

The rubble fill of the terrace turned out to be far more extensive than we expected, reaching a height of 4 m or slightly over 13 ft., and removing it required several weeks of painstaking excavation. The earliest feature that we uncovered, 4.5–5.5 m below the floor of the Terrace Building, was a large, probably industrial kiln, at least 2.5 m in diameter, and the ceramic remains around it suggest a date in the Early Iron Age (ca. 11th c. B.C.). Above and to the east of the kiln we excavated the remains of an Early Iron Age house in which were several artifacts related to textile production, including two complete spindle whorls and two partially preserved loom weights. Flanking two of the walls was a large bell-shaped pit nearly 2 m in diameter that was lined with plaster at its sides and bottom. Such bell-shaped pits are characteristic of Early Iron Age settlements at Gordion, and within it were several large fragments of Early Iron Age handmade wares as well as a sizeable number of animal bones, especially cattle, sheep, goat, fish, and birds. Above this building but below the stone rubble were ca. 40 cm (1’3”) of sloping deposits filled with trash, particularly bone, charcoal, and sherds.

The evidence yielded by the sondage demonstrates that there was considerable industrial activity in this area before the Terrace Building was constructed, beginning in the 11th c. B.C. When the enormous terrace was subsequently constructed in the 9th century, the Phrygian builders cut into the Early Iron Age layers and gradually filled those cuts with trash prior to depositing over 4 m of stone fill on top of the earlier remains. We initially thought that such extensive deposits of stone must have been robbed from earlier buildings, but there were no finished surfaces on any of the stones, and so they may have been quarried especially for the terrace construction.

Geophysical Investigations

Remote sensing at Gordion has been unusually successful in pinpointing the fortification walls, streets, and buildings of the settlement, especially in the Lower Town or residential district, and this year our results were equally rewarding. All geophysical prospection, both magnetometry and electric resistivity, was conducted by Stefan Giese and Christian Hübner of GGH in Freiburg, Germany, who have been overseeing Gordion’s remote sensing program since 2007. Our prospection in 2014 concentrated primarily on the Outer Town, a large residential district that lies to the west of the Lower Town and the Citadel Mound (figs. 12, 13).

It looks as if the Outer Town’s residential area was bordered by a ditch with a defensive wall on its interior. The ditch was ca. 3.5 m in width, and the defensive wall, which had a width of 2.5 m, was located 4 m away from it. We have now been able to trace the course of the defensive ditch for over 1 km (nearly 0.7 of a mile), and it clearly surrounded the entire district. There was another monumental feature 20 m to the east of the ditch, within the Outer Town, that was probably a street and has been restored as such on the plan in fig. 13. At the western end of the Outer Town, nearly 1 km to the west of the citadel mound, we discovered the presence of what we interpret as a monumental fort, approximately the same size as the fort of Küçük Höyük (the “minor mound”) in the Lower Town. The north side extended for a length of at least 74 m, and the west side was at least 44 m long. These readings coincide with a high point in the land, a ridge overlooking a valley, and that is undoubtedly why the area was chosen for a defensive outpost.

These discoveries suggest that both the Lower and Outer Towns were surrounded by similarly strong fortifications, although they were planned as separate residential areas with a fortification wall between them. The sharp division between the two areas is reminiscent of the tightly separated spaces on the Citadel Mound itself, but only excavation can determine whether the separation should be interpreted as social stratification. It is, however, noteworthy that the residential districts in both the Lower and Outer Towns were approximately the same size, 44– 45 hectares (109–111 acres), and therefore unusually large by comparison to the Citadel Mound itself, which was 13 hectares or 32 acres.

Visitor Circuit and Notable Visitors

In 2013 we installed eleven new signs and several stone staircases around the perimeter of the mound to improve the experience of visitors to Gordion. What still remained to tackle were the escarpments, the irregular sides of the large early trenches that have eroded substantially since they were dug in the 1950s and 1960s (fig. 14). We focused this year on the northeast side of the citadel, where several badly eroded escarpments needed stabilization prior to the installation of the new galvanized steel fencing that is steadily replacing the old barbed wire fence. The escarpments were manually shaped until they reached an angle of repose (45%), and the excess soil yielded by this operation was used to fill the large voids along this section to even the terrain and reduce the effects of erosion.

The landscapes that surround the mound of Gordion, punctuated by over 100 tumuli or burial mounds, are in many respects as interesting as the site itself, yet they are rarely visited by tourists. To rectify this situation, Naomi Miller secured a grant from the Penn Museum to design three new walking tours in the environs of Gordion. These are intended to promote the visitor’s understanding of the natural and cultural resources within walking distance of the site and the museum, and they will be posted on the Gordion website in the course of this year.

The improvements in Gordion’s signage and visitor circuit, coupled with an outreach to the Turkish Union of Tourist Guides, have resulted in an increase in attendance at both the site and the museum. The most distinctive event associated with this phenomenon was a dinner reception for 600 guests of the World Business Congress, with a menu loosely based on the meal served in 740 B.C. during the funeral for the occupant of Tumulus MM, probably Midas’ father. Such a link was especially appropriate in light of the fact that the dinner was held across the street from the tumulus, and it was followed by a Phrygian fashion show with hats, fibulae (bronze dress pins), and geometric designs adapted from objects excavated at Gordion (fig. 15).

We benefited tremendously this year from the periodic visits of Enver Sağır, Halil Demirdelen, and Latif Özen, the Director, Deputy Director, and Head of Conservation, respectively, of the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations in Ankara, and from a delegation from the Penn Museum: Williams Director Julian Siggers, Charles Williams, the former Director of the Corinth Excavations and a Penn Museum overseer, and Amanda Mitchell-Boyask, the Penn Museum’s Director of Development (fig. 16).


Teaching respect for cultural property to younger generations has now become a part of every archaeologist’s activities. Once we complete fieldwork at a particular site, we are dependent on the local communities to protect and maintain the site. Such lessons need to be incorporated into the educational curricula of primary and secondary school students so that cultural heritage protection develops into a fundamental component of their perspective on the landscapes that surround them.

A new program tied to these goals and funded by the Penn Museum was launched this summer by Gordion’s Assistant Director, Ayşe Gürsan-Salzmann, in tandem with Halil Demirdelen, the Deputy Director of Ankara’s Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, and assisted by the Penn Museum’s Naomi Miller and Gareth Darbyshire, and by Penn archaeology graduate student Olivia Hayden. The program lasted for much of the 2014 season, with several students from the villages around Gordion participating in workshops at the Gordion site and museum, at the nearby archaeological sites of Midas City and Dümrek, and within the Ankara Museum (fig. 17). Mr. Demirdelen had organized similar workshops at the Penn Museum and in Philadelphia schools, sponsored by the Turkish Cultural Foundation, but this was the first time that they were offered in the environs of Gordion. Several reports were given orally by the student participants at the end of the program, followed by feedback from the local villages about our new cultural heritage program. Given the success of this season’s pilot project, we will certainly continue it in subsequent years.

Publication and Staffing

The excavation house was filled with researchers working on a wide variety of manuscripts that spanned a period from the Bronze Age through the Hellenistic period (fig. 18). These included, among others, Penn graduate student Sam Holzman on Gordion’s tortoise shell lyres, dating to the early seventh century B.C.; Askold Ivantchik and Lada Sementchenko on the Persian arrowheads from Küçük Höyük, a Middle Phrygian fort; Gareth Darbyshire on the iron objects; Shannan Stewart and Martin Wells on the Hellenistic architecture and ceramics; Carolyn Aslan and Gülşah Günata on the late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age ceramics; Kathleen Lynch, assisted by Simone Bates-Smith, on Greek ceramics; Beth Dusinberre on the cremation burials; Penn graduate student Kurtis Tanaka on Middle Phrygian plaques; Richard Liebhart on the architecture of Tumulus MM; Ken Sams on the assemblages in the Early Phrygian Terrace Building; and Penn graduate student Lucas Stephens, who used aerial photogrammetry to produce a digital, 3-D map of the landscape around Gordion. Two more monographs are scheduled to be published next year: Phoebe Sheftel on the bone and ivory objects, and John (Mac) Marston on Gordion’s ancient environment.

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 (Penn), Assistant Director; Iris Fernandez (ISAW/NYU), registrar, assisted by Ken Jordan and Lynn Makowsky (Penn); Gebhard Bieg, photographer; Emily Miller, illustrator; Joseph Nigro (NASA) and David Bescoby (University of East Anglia), surveying and mapping; Canan Çakırlar (Groeningen University), faunal analysis; John (Mac) Marston (Boston University) and Naomi Miller (Penn), palaeobotany; and Gareth Darbyshire (Penn), archivist. The object conservation work was expertly overseen by Jessica Johnson (Smithsonian) and Cricket Harbeck, with interns William Shelley (UCLA/Getty) and Nihayet A. M. Rahim (Iraqi Institute for the Conservation of Antiquities and Heritage, Erbil). Nihayet was the first of our interns from the Iraqi Institute, and we look forward to many more in the future.

The excavation of the Phrygian fortification walls was directed by Sarah Leppard and Simon Greenslade, who were assisted by Mehmetcan Soyluoğlu (Ankara University) and Hüseyin Erol (Hacettepe University). The Terrace Building sondage was supervised by Penn graduate student Kate Morgan, assisted by Olivia Hayden (Penn) and Jane Gordon (Univ. of Chicago), while Cem Küncü (Gazi University) helped with the ceramic processing. Prof. 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 2014 season was made easier due to the energetic support of our representative, Ms. Melek Yıldızturan, of the Ankara Museum of Anatolian Civilizations. During the course of the summer, Melek Hanım completed an ambitious survey of all tumuli in the vicinity of Gordion as part of a larger project that will ensure their long-term protection. I would also like to extend our heartfelt thanks to Mr. Enver Sağır, the director of the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations in Ankara, Mr, Halil Demirdelen, the museum’s deputy director, and three of the museum’s curators: Mr. Mustafa Metin, Mr. Mehmet Akalın, and Mr. Murat Yıldırım. We are enormously grateful to the General Directorate for Cultural Heritage and Museums, especially Mr. Abdullah Kocapınar, General Director; Mr. Melik Ayaz, Head of Excavations and Survey; Mr. Mustafa Bozdemir, Mr. Ümüt Görgülü, Mr. Gökhan Bozkurtlar, and Ms. Nilüfer Ertan. Equaly generous in their support were the Kaymakam and Belediye Başkanı of Polatlı, Mr. Gürsoy Osman Bilgin and Mr. Mürsel Yıldızkaya, respectively.

I would like to close by noting again that none of our accomplishments this summer would have been possible without your encouragement and generous support. It is a pleasure to acknowledge, in particular, the assistance offered to us by the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, the C.K. Williams II Foundation, the Selz Foundation, the Loeb Classical Library Foundation of Harvard University, the Luther Replogle Foundation, the Merops Foundation, the J.M. Kaplan Fund, the Morgan Family Foundation, and the Jordan Foundation.

We hope to be able to share our results with more of you during this year, both in lectures in the U.S. and at Gordion itself (fig. 19). You’ll have the chance to view many of Gordion’s artifacts in a new exhibition on Midas and the Phrygians that will open at the Penn Museum in 2016 by courtesy of the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism. Thank you again, and we look forward to welcoming you to the site!