Date of Award

2018

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group

Art & Archaeology of Mediterranean World

First Advisor

C. Brian Rose

Second Advisor

Lauren Ristvet

Abstract

The archaeological site of Gordion in central Anatolia is best known as the seat of King Midas of Phrygia, he of the mythical ‘golden touch,’ whose reign is documented in Assyrian texts dating to the late 8th century BCE. But while Midas is the only historically attested ruler of Phrygia, the site is a multiperiod settlement mound, surrounded by over 100 monumental earthen burial mounds, or tumuli. Archaeological excavation of these remains supports the notion that a complex polity based at Gordion was established and thrived there over the course of the Early and Middle Iron Ages, ca. 1200–600 BCE. Relatively little work has been done to elucidate the sociopolitical organization or development of such a polity, however, beyond the simplistic reconstruction of a dynasty of kings whose royal burials are preserved in the tumulus fields. In this dissertation, I re-examine the evidence for sociopolitical formation at the Gordion citadel mound in the centuries before Midas. The city’s urban plan underwent a period of rapid expansion and monumentalization between ca. 1000–800 BCE; this process of urbanization was only briefly interrupted when a massive fire swept through the city ca. 800, destroying many of its buildings and preserving their rich contents in situ. I combine diachronic analysis of the citadel mound architecture with a synchronic evaluation of the activities taking place within at the time of its destruction, focusing on the well-provisioned Terrace Complex, one of the last and most significant alterations to the city before the fire. I frame these investigations in a theoretical framework derived from feasting studies and the archaeology of performance to reconstruct the suite of collective and commensal practices associated with the emergence of a Phrygian social and political identity at this transformative moment in the city’s history. I ultimately conclude that we should conceive of Early Phrygian Gordion not as the seat of a ruler, but as a central place where group identity was negotiated in the context of communal feasts, arguing that the case of Gordion illustrates the importance of collective action to the emergence of early complex polities.

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