Gordion (Turkey)

Citadel Mound, Gordion (Turkey)
Citadel Mound, Gordion (Turkey). gamsiz


Gordion (Yassihöyük in Turkish) was, according to ancient history, the capital of the Phrygian Kingdom during the eighth century BC. Gordion is located on the Sakarya River near its confluence with the Tembris, 70 miles southwest of Ankara, Turkey, and open to visitors. The site includes a 16 meter-high tell, called Citadel Mound, a 7 hectare area tower and wall complex called Kuçukhöyük, and a smaller tower called Kustepe, as well as smaller occupation areas within a 72 hectare area of settlement.

Chronology at Gordion

  • 1 Medieval 10th-15th centuries AD
  • 2 Roman 1st century BC-4th century AD
  • 3 Hellenistic 330–100 BC
  • 4 Late Phrygian (Achaemenid) 540–330 BC
  • 5 Middle Phrygian 800–540 BC
  • 6 Early Phrygian 900–800 BC
  • 7 Early Iron Age 1100–900 BC
  • 8/9 Late Bronze Age 1400–1200 BC
  • 10 Middle Bronze Age 1600–1400 BC

The earliest documented occupation at Gordion occurred during the Middle Bronze Age (~1500-1600 BC); it was occupied continuously from that time until the Middle Ages, ~AD 1600). Archaeological evidence of the Phrygian occupation dates between 950 and 350 BC, with the heyday of the settlement during the 6th century. Gordion was on the Achaemenid Royal Road, and was conquered by Cyrus the Great during his conquest of most of Anatolia between 547-546 BC.

Gordion is said to be the site where Alexander the Great is said to have cut 'the Gordion knot'. A burial structure on the site is still described as "King Midas' Tomb" but this has been redated to 740 BC, decades before the historical figure died.

Agriculture at Gordion

During its heyday of the Iron Age, and indeed for most of its occupation, Gordion's residents grew barley ( Hordeum vulgare), wheat ( Triticum aestivum, T. durum, T. monococcum), grapes ( Vitis vinifera), lentils ( Lens culinaris), and bitter vetch ( Vicia ervilia). Millets ( Setaria italica and Panicum miliaceum), rice ( Oryza sativa), were added during the Islamic period.
Sheep, goats, cattle and pigs were tended, with a predominance of sheep and goats.

In a recent paper, John Marston (2011) tracked agricultural methods over time at Gordion, and concluded that the system fluctuated with climate changes, population pressures and innovation over the 3,000 years of occupation.

Archaeology at Gordion

The site was first excavated in 1900 by Gustav and Alfred Körte; other researchers associated with Gordion include Rodney S. Young, K. DeVries, and G.K. Sams at the University of Pennsylvania. Mary M. Voigt at the College of William and Mary has been conducting work at Gordion since the late 1980s. Additional investigations have included ethnoarchaeological work in the nearby town of Yassihüyük, and a regional survey.


The Gordion Archaeological Project website at Penn Museum contains a great deal of information about the investigations.

This glossary entry is part of the About.com Guide to Anatolia and the Dictionary of Archaeology.

Marsh B. 1999. Alluvial Burial of Gordion, an Iron-Age City in Anatolia. Journal of Field Archaeology 26(2):163-175.

Marston JM. 2011. Archaeological markers of agricultural risk management. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 30(2):190-205.

Miller NF, Zeder MA, and Arter SR. 2009. From Food and Fuel to Farms and Flocks: The Integration of Plant and Animal Remains in the Study of the Agropastoral Economy at Gordion, Turkey. Current Anthropology 50(6):915-924.

Voigt, MM. 2002. Gordion: the rise and fall of an Iron Age capital. In: DC Hopkins, Editor, Across the Anatolian Plateau: Readings in the Archaeology of Ancient Turkey, American Schools of Oriental Research, Boston, pp. 5–18

Young RS. 1963. Gordion on the Royal Road. Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 107(4):348-364.

Also Known As: Yassihüyük mound