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The ruins of Gordium

Gordium (Greek: Γόρδιον, Górdion; Turkish: Gordiyon) was the capital city of ancient Phrygia. It was located at the site of modern Yassihüyük, about 70–80 km southwest of Ankara (capital of Turkey), in the immediate vicinity of Polatlı district.

Gordium lies where the ancient road between Lydia and Assyria/Babylonia crossed the Sangarius river.

In the twelfth century BCE, Gordium appears to have been settled by Thracians who had migrated from southeastern Europe. During the ninth and eighth centuries, the city grew to be the capital of a kingdom that controlled much of Asia Minor west of the river Halys. The kings of Phrygia built large tombs near Gordium called tumuli, which consist of artificial mounds constructed over burial chambers. There are about one hundred of them, and many of the chambers were wooden. In the eighth century, the lower city and the area to the north of the citadel was surrounded by a fortification circuit wall with regularly spaced towers.

The most famous king of Phrygia was the quasi-legendary Midas. Contemporary Assyrian sources dating at least 717 to 709 BCE call him Mit-ta-a. During his reign, according to Strabo, a nomadic tribe called Cimmerians invaded Asia Minor, and in 710/709, Midas was forced to ask for help from the Assyrian king Sargon II.

There are traces of destruction at Gordium. Archaeologists at first interpreted the destruction level as the remains of a Cimmerian attack, circa 700 BCE. The traces were later reinterpreted as dating to circa 800 BCE, on the basis of archaeology (the style of the pottery and artifacts discovered in the destruction level), dendrochronology, and radiocarbon.[1] If this reinterpretation is right, then the otherwise-unrecorded destruction would seem to have been caused by a conflagration, and not by a Cimmerian attack. The archaeological reinterpretation, though, is debated.[2][3] Also, the correct radiocarbon date seems to have a wide range that is consistent with both proposed archaeological dates.[4]

The so-called "mound of Midas", the Great Tumulus, is near Gordium. When excavated, a man's corpse was found. The man may have been the famous king's father.

During the winter of 334 BCE, Alexander the Great traditionally cut the Gordian Knot in the temple.


  1. ^ K. DeVries et al., "New dates for the destruction levels at Gordion", Antiquity 77 (June 2003)
  2. ^ O.W. Muscarella, "The date of the destruction of the Early Phrygian Period at Gordion", Ancient West & East 2, 225-252 (2003). (Argues against the archaeological reinterpretation.)
  3. ^ M.M. Voigt, "Old Problems and New Solutions: Recent Excavations at Gordion," in: L. Kealhofer (Ed.) The Archaeology of Midas and the Phrygians (Philadelphia, 2005), 28-31. (Argues for the reinterpretation.)
  4. ^ D.J. Keenan, "Radiocarbon dates from Iron Age Gordion are confounded", Ancient West & East 3, 100-103 (2004).

External links

Further reading

  1. Keith DeVries (editor). From Athens to Gordion (Philadelphia: University Museum, 1980).
  2. Ann C. Gunter. Gordion Excavations Final Reports Vol. III: The Bronze Age (Philadelphia: University Museum, 1991).
  3. Gustav Körte and Alfred Körte. "Gordion: Ergebnisse der Ausgrabung im Jahre 1900". Jährliches Ergänzungsheft 5 (Berlin, 1904). (In German.)
  4. Ellen L. Kohler. The Gordion Excavations (1950-1973) Final Reports, Vol. II: The Lesser Phrygian Tumuli, Part 1, The Inhumations (Philadelphia, 1995).
  5. Machteld Mellink. A Hittite Cemetery at Gordion (Philadelphia: University Museum, 1956).
  6. Lynn Roller. Gordion Special Studies, Vol. I: Nonverbal Graffiti, Dipinti, and Stamps (Philadelphia: University Museum, 1987).
  7. Irene Romano. Gordion Special Studies Vol. II: The Terracotta Figurines and Related Vessels (Philadelphia: University Museum, 1995).
  8. G. Kenneth Sams. The Gordion Excavations, 1950-1973: Final Reports, Vol. IV: The Early Phrygian Pottery (Philadelphia: University Museum, 1994).
  9. Rodney Young et al.. Gordion Excavations Reports, Vol. I: Three Great Early Tumuli [P, MM, W] (Philadelphia: University Museum, 1981).

Coordinates: 39°39′18″N 31°59′39″E / 39.655°N 31.9941666667°E / 39.655; 31.9941666667


1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

GORDIUM, an ancient city of Phrygia situated on the Persian "Royal road" from Pessinus to Ancyra, and not far from the Sangarius. It lies opposite the village Pebi, a little north of the point where the Constantinople-Angora railway crosses the Sangarius. It is not to be confused with Gordiou-kome, refounded as Juliopolis, a Bithynian town on a small tributary of the Sangarius, about 47 m. in an air-line N.W. of Gordium. According to the legend, Gordium was founded by Gordius, a Phrygian peasant who had been called to the throne by his countrymen in obedience to an oracle of Zeus commanding them to select the first person that rode up to the temple of the god in a wagon. The king afterwards dedicated his car to the god, and another I For this name see footnote to Shapur.

oracle declared that whoever succeeded in untying the strangely entwined knot of cornel bark which bound the yoke to the pole should reign over all Asia. Alexander the Great, according to the story, cut the knot by a stroke of his sword. Gordium was captured and destroyed by the Gauls soon after 189 B.C. and disappeared from history. In imperial times only a small village existed on the site. Excavations made in 1900 by two German scholars, G. and A. Koerte, revealed practically no remains later than the middle of the 6th century B.C. (when Phrygia fell under Persian power) .

See Jahrbuch des Instituts, Erganzungsheft v. (1904). (J. G. C. A.)

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary




From Latin Gordium, derived from Greek Γορδιον (Gordion).

Proper noun

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  1. The capital city of the ancient nation Phrygia (the city is now Yassihüyük in Turkey).

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