Archaeology Odyssey 4:6, November/December 2001

King Midas: From Myth to Reality

The man with the golden touch actually ruled an Iron Age kingdom in central Anatolia

By G. Kenneth Sams

Over the past half century, archaeologists have uncovered dozens of burial tumuli near the ancient site of Gordion, about 60 miles southwest of modern Ankara, Turkey. Built of earth over single-chambered wooden tombs, these mounds probably housed the remains of royal families who ruled from the Phrygian capital of Gordion during the first centuries of the first millennium B.C.E.

One eighth-century B.C.E. tumulus enclosed the remains of a child. Buried with the child were wooden animals, zoomorphic clay vessels, and astragals (the ankle bones of sheep or goats, often used as counters in board games).

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