Open today 10 am – 5 pm

Archaeological Institute of America - Philadelphia Chapter Lecture

Recent Work and Unknotting Old Questions at Gordion

Penn Museum

Tuesday, May. 7, 6:00 am - 7:30 pm ET


Gold and ivory sphinx.

Gordion, Türkiye, has been designated as a United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Site—the first site under active excavation by the Penn Museum to be added to the list. Three Gordion scholars discuss their recent work on this site that continues to yield new and interesting information.


Recent Field Work at Gordion

C. Brian Rose, Ph.D.

Recent work has focused primarily on architectural conservation, research on tumuli, and remote sensing. On the south side of the Citadel Mound, the newly discovered city gate appears to have been in use for over 1,200 years, from the 9th century BCE to the 4th century CE. It featured an approach road nearly 100 meters long. The discoveries within the Mosaic Building include the only stone omphalos to have been found in Asia Minor and a gilded ivory sphinx that probably adorned a throne. The 8th century Tumulus 52 included over 3,000 beads of amber imported from the Baltic, and the child aged 8 to 10 years old found within the wooden chamber may have been a member of the family of Midas. Gordion was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage Site List in 2023, the 20th site in Türkiye to be so honored.

C. Brian Rose, the Director of Excavations at Gordion, is the James B. Pritchard Professor of Archaeology and Curator-in-Charge Penn Museum, Mediterranean Section.

From Legend to Reality: Ancient Vehicles from the City of Gordion

Gareth Darbyshire, Ph.D.

The fabled, prophetic Gordian Knot was associated with a cart or wagon that was linked in legend with Phrygian kingship, and this vehicle was reportedly dedicated to a divine power at the citadel of Gordion. Recently, the actual building in which this vehicle was housed has perhaps now been identified. More tangibly, archaeological evidence for a number of ancient vehicles—seldom found anywhere—has been revealed by the Penn Museum’s longstanding excavations at Gordion.

Gareth Darbyshire is the Gordion Project Archivist and a Penn Museum Research Associate.

Some Ivory, Bone and Horn Puzzles

Phoebe Sheftel, Ph.D.

Among the nearly 1,000 objects of bone, ivory, antler, horn, and shell recovered at Gordion between 1950 and 2005 are three groups of pieces that still provoke puzzled interpretation. Thirty-nine bone objects found in Hellenistic contexts have a distinct rectangular shape, often with pronged ends. Various interpretations have labeled them as handles or containers of some sort. A dozen examples of ivory attachments with cylinders engaged on flat or curved strips and found in Middle and Late Phrygian contexts have eluded explanation. Finally, two horn pieces with three attachment holes have been compared to other objects dating from the 2nd millennium BCE to the Carolingian period (8th-9th CE).

Phoebe A. Sheftel, an independent scholar and expert on bone and ivory, has done fieldwork at sites in England, Greece, and Turkey.

Free and open to the public.