Gordion Archive

The Gordion Archive at Penn Museum is the main repository for the voluminous records created by over thirty seasons of excavation at Gordion. The material includes over 80,000 photographic images (black-and white negatives and prints; color slides), hundreds of drawings (large-scale maps and plans; artifacts), hundreds of written reports (excavation notebooks, end-of-season evaluations etc), thousands of catalog cards and book-lists (containing tens of thousands of entries detailing the attributes of artifacts, photographs, drawings and documents); and miscellaneous other items.

These records detail the evidence found in over 250 excavation trenches dug on the Citadel Mound, in the Lower Town, Outer Town, the Common Cemetery, and in over 30 of the burial-mounds. The data relate to many hundreds of archaeological contexts (the excavated deposits, features and structures) and many thousands of associated artifacts (pottery, metalwork, bone, etc), spanning over four millennia of settlement activity at the site.

NotebooksField notebooks and find notebooks250+
SlidesKodachrome and B&W14,000+
Negatives35mm and oversize65,000+
Plans and MapsMylar, sun-prints, linen, all scales1,400+
Object RecordsCatalogued (several thousands remain uncatalogued)25,000+
OtherLists, catalogues, prints, publications, transcripts

As the excavations proceeded day by day, the trench supervisors described and interpreted the evidence—in accordance with the archaeological standards of the time, and their own particular ability—in written reports, supplemented by extensive photographs and drawings (plans and cross-sections). In addition, all the artifacts were described and photographed, and their archaeological find-spots noted.

The artifacts were in due course transferred to the Gordion Museum and the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations at Ankara, and can be re-examined today. Many of the ancient structures and features, however, were largely destroyed during the digging operations, as part of the normal process of excavation. As a result, in many cases the archived records constitute the only extant evidence of what was found.

Since there is still much work to be done in analyzing, interpreting, and publishing the excavated evidence from Gordion, it is essential that the records be kept in excellent order. Creating that order—in the form of the Gordion Archive—was the work of the late Ellen Kohler. Over a period of several years, between the late 1970s and early 1980s, she re-organized, checked, and cross-referenced all the original records to create a wonderfully simple and highly effective “paper database.” In subsequent years she maintained and updated the archive, a process that continues today. Without her brilliant integration of the original records, it would be difficult for anyone today to deal with and make sense of this mass of material. In effect, she ensured the integrity of the Gordion archaeological data for the next generation of scholars.

As current research progresses on the excavated Gordion material, new data are being generated, and the complexity of the dataset—and the demands being made on it—are increasing. The Gordion Project has therefore embarked on creating Digital Gordion, with this website serving as one of the by-products.