Last month Jamie and I signed up for a day trip to Gordion, a world-renowned archaeological site less than 100 kilometers outside of Ankara. And to be honest, what I saw there left me speechless.
Gordion was the capital city of the Phrygian empire, which ruled central Anatolia sometime around 800 BC. It is a place steeped in popular myth and history. King Midas, he of the golden touch, once ruled the city. The metropolis is also claimed to be the place where Alexander the Great cut the Gordian Knot.
The University of Pennsylvania Museum has sponsored excavations at Gordion since around 1950. Besides actual digging, archaeologists preserve and sometimes restore architectural remains. They also study, analyze, and conserve a range of excavated material, from pottery, glass, and textile fragments to bones, animal and human, and botanical remains.
The city burned down around 700 BC, according to our guide who insisted archaeology is anything but an exact science, and certain aspects of daily life there remain unknown, such as the exact population.
In addition to the dig site, we also toured a tumulus, or burial mound, that allegedly holds Midas’ father, and saw recovered antiquities at the Gordion Museum.
However, in the tour’s aftermath, I struggled to write about what I’d seen. The dig site is one of the greatest discoveries in the world. What could I hope to add? Then I realized I couldn’t, or, rather, I shouldn’t for risk of sounding like a pompous windbag. Instead, I’ll settle for bringing attention to this incredible piece of human history and encourage anyone who ever travels to Turkey to find a way to tour the Gordion ruins and let them speak to you.