Suburban Development Threatens Archaeological Site in Gordion, Turkey

August 3, 2012

Ayşe explains to city officials why Gordion will never have temples, stadiums, and big buildings like the Classical sites of Ephesus and Pergamon. On the other hand, the Gordion region has an unparalleled group of tumuli (burial mounds) dating to the time of King Midas and a beautiful, biodiverse landscape. Naomi listens intently.

The Penn Museum project at Gordion has been working to preserve the site and over 100 related burial mounds (“tumuli”) that constitute an amazing historical landscape. Agricultural and suburban development are destroying the rural character of the region at a rapid rate, and an immediate threat to the archaeological remains is caused by plowing and irrigating of many of the mounds.

Ayşe Gürsan-Salzmann (Penn Museum, Assistant Director of the Gordion Project) arranged for Naomi F. Miller (Research Project Manager, Near East Section) to speak to the local authorities of the Polatlı municipality about this problem on Tuesday, July 3, 2012. Gürsan-Salzmann presented additional information. We were accompanied by Brian Rose, G. Kenneth Sams, Mehmet Akalın (Representative), Evin Erder (Middle East Technical University), Gözde Yavuz (Turkish Gordion intern). The local press attended, and an article was published in İstiklal, on of the local Polatlı newspapers. It was picked up by Anadolu Ajans (the Turkish equivalent of the AP), and was reprinted in the Ankara section of the well-respected nationally distributed newspaper, Cumhuriyet. (See, for example, http://www.ilgazetesi.com.tr/2012/07/05/tarlalar-tarihi-yok-ediyor/0134727/ )

Read more about the Gordion ‘Ecopark’ project.

Ayşe pointed out, “One of the critical issues raised by the Mayor and members of the committee for the ‘development’ of Gordion and its village of Yassıhoyuk was that the excavations are moving slowly, so that there are no new, “spectacular” archaeological remains to be shown to the visitors! We made it clear to the audience that excavations were soon to begin; even though the nature of the Phrygian city remains are not as spectacular as those of Pergamon or Ephesus, the archaeological precinct has remarkable, one of a kind of  historical treasures such as the ‘Midas Mound’ and a magnificent, unspoiled landscape over many kilometers.”

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The landscape around Gordion is special thanks to ‘nature’ and ‘culture’

Angora goats are native to central Turkey; they produce fine mohair.

Indeed, it is also an ethnographic  treasure trove, where hundreds of Angora goats still roam the landscape, the Sakarya River plain is one of the richest breadbaskets of Turkey and the Near East, with its wide expanses of farmland surrounding the ancient site, and exporting several varieties of wheat and Angora wool (mohair and cashmere wool are extracted from it) to the Middle East and Europe. Presently, a candidate for a World Heritage Site designation, Gordion is to be preserved as a living cultural monument, a destination for all tourists to visit and enjoy.