Self-guided walking tours for visitors to Gordion, Turkey

September 5, 2014

Jane, me, and Beth checking the view from Tumulus P. Photo by Carolyn Aslan.
Jane, me, and Beth checking the view from Tumulus P. Photo by Carolyn Aslan

In earlier posts (August 3, 2012 and August 8, 2014), I mentioned the Gordion “ecopark” project’s goal of preserving regional biodiversity, the historical landscape, and the archaeological site itself. One part of the project concerns visitor education.

I first visited Gordion as a tourist in 1983 and began archaeobotanical fieldwork there in 1988. I have returned most years since then, and never tire of the landscape—cultural, historical, and botanical. In an attempt to share some of my appreciation for the place, I have put together a few self-guided tours that may encourage visitors to go beyond the local Museum and the excavated remains.

Before I went to Gordion this summer, I already had a general idea of what the tours should include:

The question was, how to give easy-to-follow directions and just enough information to be interesting, but not so much that people would spend more time reading than actually looking around them. From the beginning, my plan was to field test the routes and information. My first drafts were overthought and overcomplicated; Gordion colleagues were quite happy to set me straight on that score (I hope I am not forgetting anyone: Dave Bescoby, Beth Dusinberre, Emily Miller, Jane Gordon, Carolyn Aslan, Canan Çakırlar), as seen in the photograph above.

Gordion is particularly rich in ancient monuments: over 100 burial mounds dot the landscape. The land between the mounds is equally important. Herding and farming have been practiced for millennia, but suburban and agricultural development threaten the area. If the sole measure of value is economic, much of what I love about Gordion will be lost, but in the interim, I hope that the economic value of tourism can exceed that of destructive alternative land uses, like excessive irrigation agriculture. Tourism alone will not save the place. The local population, too, has to value the natural and cultural heritage of the region. To that end, Turkish versions of these tours are under development .

The tours are designed to be used at the site itself; if you are planning a trip to Turkey, do visit Gordion.