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Lost in Time: Gordion, the Legendary City of Central Turkey

Lost in Time: Gordion, the Legendary City of Central Turkey
Yazilikaya is notable for its archaeological remains from the Phrygian period (Credit: Photosensia/G... Yazilikaya is notable for its archaeological remains from the Phrygian period (Credit: Photosensia/Getty Images)
Lost in Time: Gordion, the Legendary City of Central Turkey
Yazilikaya is notable for its archaeological remains from the Phrygian period (Credit: Photosensia/G... Yazilikaya is notable for its archaeological remains from the Phrygian period (Credit: Photosensia/Getty Images)

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Lost in Time: Gordion, the Legendary City of Central Turkey

Gordion, the ancient capital of Phrygia, is steeped in legend and history. Situated on a windswept plain in modern-day Turkey, it was once a thriving city at the crossroads of major trade routes, flourishing from the 9th to the 7th centuries BCE. One of its most famous rulers, according to legend, was King Midas, renowned for his “golden touch.”

While the story of King Midas and his golden touch is well-known, it is more myth than reality. However, there is historical evidence of a Phrygian king named Midas mentioned in ancient texts, including the annals of the Assyrian ruler Sargon II. Midas was considered a powerful king and a rival to the Assyrians during the 8th century BCE.

Further evidence of Midas’s existence can be found at Yazılıkaya, known as “Midas City,” where an inscription dedicated to Midas was discovered. Additionally, the famous Gordian Knot, associated with Midas’s father Gordias, became a symbol of power and authority. According to legend, whoever could untie the knot would rule Asia, and Alexander the Great famously cut through it with his sword.

Archaeological excavations at Gordion have uncovered burial mounds, including the Midas Mound, believed to be the tomb of Midas’s father, Gordias. While the tomb contained lavish offerings fit for a king, tree-ring dating suggests it predates Midas’s reign, indicating it likely belonged to Gordias.

As for the “golden touch,” it is believed to be a metaphor for Midas’s ability to bring wealth and prosperity to Gordion during his rule. While little gold has been found at the site, the myth persists as a symbol of Midas’s legendary wealth and success.

Overall, Gordion and its association with King Midas continue to fascinate historians and archaeologists, offering glimpses into the ancient past and the blending of myth and reality in ancient civilizations.


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