University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Athropology

Region: Near East

Gordion and the Penn Museum

By: C. Brian Rose

Like many great archaeological discoveries, the site of Gordion was encountered by accident. Engineers working on the construction of the Berlin-Baghdad railroad noticed a large, flat-topped mound with extensive amounts of pottery on the surface and assumed that it was an ancient settlement. Parts of the site and the surrounding monumental burial mounds, or tumuli, […]

The Legacy of Phrygian Culture

By: Kathryn R. Morgan and C. Brian Rose and Sam Holzman and Patricia Kim

The impact of Midas’ reign on the political configuration of Asia Minor is well known; less obvious is the impact of Phrygian culture on subsequent developments in textile production, music, problem-solving slogans, and even the representations of liberty. What is the relationship between flamenco and the Phrygian mode in music, and why were Phrygian caps […]

Architectural Conservation at Gordion

By: Elisa Del Bono

Following the preservation policy of many Mediterranean countries, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism in Turkey requires the directors of archaeological projects to focus not only on excavation but also on archaeological conservation and site improvement for visitors. From 2006 to 2014, this work at Gordion was conducted under the auspices of the Architectural Conservation […]

The Myth of Midas’ Golden Touch

By: Anastasia Amrhein and Patricia Kim and Lucas Stephens and Jane Hickman

Gold has been used to create objects of beauty across the ages, conferring a high level of status on those who own it. In some cultures, gold has spiritual and even magical qualities. As a raw material or manufactured object, gold also plays an important role in understanding ancient trade. Gold luxury objects and coins […]

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 […]

A Day in the Life

The 2015 Field Season


Any description of life at Gordion must begin with the dig house, the center of archaeological activity now just as it was when it was built in the 1950s. The two-story house sits on a slight rise, looking out over a landscape of tumuli and irrigated fields of wheat, sugar beet, and onions. Like most […]

Rodney Young’s Other Career


By: Susan Heuck Allen

Mussolini’s invasion of Greece on October 28, 1940 prompted American archaeologists excavating there to act. Rodney Young, a recent Ph.D. who had been digging on a mountain slope overlooking Athens, drove an ambulance for the Greek Red Cross. He supplied first aid stations and picked up wounded soldiers from the Greek campaign, which had pushed […]

Students to Analyze 5,000 Year Old Skeleton

In the Labs

Last May, the Penn Museum identified an early burial from the Ubaid period at Ur, dated to ca. 4500 BCE. This was particularly groundbreaking because it shed light on early village life in the Ubaid period in Iraq—a time of transition to agriculture. Recently, a Penn team, led by Dr. Janet Monge, identified a second […]

From Homework to Fieldwork: Summer 2014 Student Projects

Around the World

The Penn Museum encourages and supports student research projects. In 2014, we funded 35 students (23 graduate students, 12 undergraduate students) in their fieldwork in 15 different countries. Five of these students share their summer projects. Molyvoti, Thrace Archaeological Project By Samuel Holzman, Graduate Student in Art And Archaeology of The Mediterranean World (AAMW) During […]

Searching for the Kingdom of Musasir

The Rowanduz Archaeological Program

By: Michael D. Danti

Near Eastern archaeologists generate compelling headlines and grab attention searching for lost kingdoms, temples, and palaces, but most everyone knows that modern archaeology encompasses far more than the pursuit of great discoveries. Archaeologists strive to reconstruct past cultures and study cultural evolution and human-environment interactions over time. Nevertheless, I confess that our new archaeological project […]