Ellen Kohler at Gordion

February 20, 2009

Ellen Kohler at Gordion, Turkey, grinding with saddle quern. Penn Museum Image #157957. The number twenty was imprinted on the image, not the stone.

The woman in this image, Ellen Kohler, was an Anatolian and classical archaeologist based at the Penn Museum for the majority of her career.  In this photo, she is demonstrating the use of a quern stone at the site of Gordion, in central Turkey.

Gordion is located fifty miles southwest of Ankara and is one of the most important archaeological sites in the Near East, popularly associated with King Midas and Alexander of Macedon’s slice through the Gordian knot.

Kohler was the common thread of consistency and initiative throughout the history of the Gordion project; the Penn Museum’s investigations began in 1950 and excavations continued almost to the present. Kohler gave sixty years of her life to this project and her contributions were indispensable. She was involved with the cataloging and preservation of artifacts excavated at Gordion, processed thousands of excavation records, and conducted research on iron age and early Persian (c. 850-500 BC) burial grounds (tumuli) from Gordion. The first volume of her research was published in 1995; the second will be published posthumously.

The Penn Museum community lost Ellen Kohler in November 2008. Her work continues to be useful and valued. She is missed.