The archaeological site of Gordion in Ankara, the capital of Türkiye, was added to “UNESCO’s World Heritage List” at the Extended 45th session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee in Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. On September 18, Gordion has been registered as the 20th heritage site included in the list from Türkiye.
UNESCO World Heritage Convention describes the ancient city of Gordion as “a multi-layered ancient settlement, encompassing the remains of the ancient capital of Phrygia, an Iron Age independent kingdom.” UNESCO adds: “The archaeological excavations and research in the site have revealed a wealth of remains that document construction techniques, spatial arrangements, defensive structures, and inhumation practices that shed light on Phrygian culture and economy.”
Gordion: A Rare Site Experiencing Continuous Settlement
The ancient city of Gordion, located in the Polatlı district of Ankara, is a remarkable testament to the rich tapestry of civilisations that have left their mark in the Anatolian lands. Shedding light on Anatolian history with its exceptional universal values, the city was a crucial intersection point between East and West.
Settlement at the site of Gordion bears evidence from the Early Bronze Age (around 2500 BCE), in the nearby mound of Yassıhöyük, which lies adjacent to the site. The uninterrupted human habitation in and around the ancient city for 4,500 years places Gordion among the rare areas in the world with the longest history of continuous settlement. The site’s attractiveness for various civilisations can be attributed to several factors, including its strategic position along significant trade routes throughout Anatolia, the ample water supply derived from the Sangarios (present-day Sakarya) River, and extensive fertile lands suitable for agriculture.
A Glimpse into the History of Gordion
Gordion is best known as Phrygia’s political and cultural capital, which rose with the collapse of the Hittite Empire in the 12th century BCE. Therefore, it is a critical site to gain an insight into this civilisation. The Phrygians settled in a broad region in Anatolian lands, covering the present-day provinces of Ankara, Afyonkarahisar, Eskişehir and Kütahya. The Phrygian Valley is a vast landscape unlike any other worldwide, with rock fragments and ancient ruins bearing traces of the Phrygian civilisation. With the Phrygian Trail, visitors can now walk in the footsteps of the Phrygians in their historic homeland.
Monumental structures of the Phrygian period have left the most significant mark on the landscape at Gordion. The buildings of its Early Phrygian citadel and the burial mounds of the city’s rulers, even today, have the effect that was initially intended: showing the incredible power and authority of the Phrygian elite. The site was once under the reign of King Midas, cursed with the “golden touch” in mythology, during this period. The Great Tumulus, or the tomb of King Midas, in Gordion is the third largest burial mound, and the tomb chamber within it is the oldest standing wooden building in the world.
Gordion is also directly associated with the episode of the Gordian Knot, recounted by many ancient historians. Legend has it that the knot was believed to be untied only by the future conqueror of Asia. Therefore, it is not a coincidence that Gordion was visited by Alexander the Great, who tried to cut through it with his sword.
While well-preserved fortifications and monumental buildings in the vicinity of Gordion offer an incredible journey in the history of Phrygians today, the Gordion Museum at the site also contains astounding pieces from the excavations. It showcases a chronological display, representing each period with characteristic examples. Among the artefacts are handmade pottery from the Early Iron Age, iron tools from the Early Phrygian period, and ancient pottery and goods imported. Visitors can also view the seal and coin samples found in Gordion.
Türkiye’s heritage sites at UNESCO’s World Heritage List
- Göreme National Park and the Rock Sites of Cappadocia
- Great Mosque and Hospital of Divriği
- Historic Areas of Istanbul
- Hattusha: The Hittite Capital
- Nemrut Dağ
- City of Safranbolu
- Archaeological Site of Troy
- Selimiye Mosque and its Social Complex
- Neolithic Site of Çatalhöyük
- Bursa and Cumalıkızık: the Birth of the Ottoman Empire
- Pergamon and its Multi-Layered Cultural Landscape
- Diyarbakır Fortress and Hevsel Gardens Cultural Landscape
- Archaeological Site of Ani
- Göbekli Tepe
- Arslantepe Mound
- Wooden Hypostyle Mosques of Medieval Anatolia
///nCa, 24 September 2023