University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Athropology

Author: Gareth Darbyshire

Keith DeVries: Associate Curator Emeritus, Mediterranean Section


By: Gareth Darbyshire

Keith Devries, Associate Curator Emeritus in the Mediterranean Section, passed away at the age of 69 on July 16, 2006, after a long strugglw with cancer. I got to know Keith while working in central Turkey at Gordion—the long-deserted capital of the Iron Age kingdom of Phrygia—and, more recently, here in the Museum’s Gordion Archives. […]

Gordion in History

By: Gareth Darbyshire and Gabriel H. Pizzorno

According to ancient writers, Gordion is the place where, in 334/3 BCE, Alexander the Great cut the famous Gordian Knot and fulfilled a prophecy to become the ruler of Asia. Gordion is also linked with Midas, the Iron Age king of the late 8th century BCE, who in later Greek mythology is cursed with the […]

Building Digital Gordion

Coping with the Past in the 21st Century

By: Gareth Darbyshire and Gabriel H. Pizzorno

Ever since the Penn Museum began excavations there in 1950, Gordion has remained a key site for the archaeology of 1st millennium BCE Anatolia. The significance of the site derives from the intrinsic historical importance of the place—a longstanding center of power and population—and from the long-running excavations that have revealed the physical dimensions of […]

To the Victory of Caracalla

New Roman Altars at Gordion

By: Gareth Darbyshire and Kenneth W. Harl and Andrew L. Goldman

Ask any archaeologist whether chance finds are a crucial source of information and the answer you will receive—if he or she is being candid—is yes. Chance finds perform a substantial role in helping us to reconstruct the past. Even with all our methodically planned excavations, our carefully strategized surveys, and our increasing scientific expertise, we […]

Ellen L. Kohler


By: Gareth Darbyshire

At Gordion I was told that, if ever I managed to visit the Gordion Archive in the Penn Museum, it would be a good idea to look up Ellen Kohler. One of the Gordion “originals,” she was the oracle of the Rodney S. Young excavation era, the genius of the project’s Archive, the savior of […]

Taming the Beast

The Digital Gordion Mapping Project

By: Gareth Darbyshire and Gabriel H. Pizzorno

Gordion, in central Turkey, is the largest and longest-running of the Penn Museum’s many excavation projects. An ancient site of great historical significance, Gordion was occupied for 5,000 years from the Early Bronze Age (ca. 3000 BCE) through to modern times. Its high point was in the Iron Age (the early first millennium BCE) when […]

From the Archives – The Missing Piece

By: Gareth Darbyshire and Alessandro Pezzati

Organizing collections of records to make them available for research is not straightforward. The ease or difficulty in sorting through a large number of documents is directly related to whether the creator of the records maintained a discernible filing system and how carefully he or she weeded out the records without research value. Owing in […]

Modelling Gordion’s Citadel

By: Gareth Darbyshire and Christopher Ray

In 2016, a spectacular new exhibition of Anatolian archaeology will open at the Penn Museum. The show’s theme is the archaeology, history, and culture of Phrygia—an ancient region located in what is today central Turkey, and which, in the 9th and 8th centuries BCE, was a powerful Iron Age kingdom centered on the city of […]

The Role of Science

in Gordion’s Archaeology

By: Gareth Darbyshire

Gordion is an unusually large and complex archaeological site, the product of its over 4,000-year occupation history. Rising 16 meters (50 feet) above the surrounding plain, it measured about 4 km (2.5 miles) across in the time of Midas. Investigating a site of this magnitude is an enormous challenge, and over the last six decades […]