Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group

Art & Archaeology of Mediterranean World

First Advisor

Charles B. Rose


The archaeological site of Gordion, or Yassıhöyük, located at the confluence of the Sakarya and Porsuk Rivers in central Turkey, is best known as the capital city of the Phrygian King Midas and is essential to understanding the Iron Age on the Anatolian Plateau. One hundred burial mounds (or tumuli) dot the landscape around Gordion’s Citadel Mound, of which 43 have been excavated. The vast majority of those date to the Iron Age, between 850 and 530 BCE. Thus far, they have mainly been studied as burial assemblages, and little research has been conducted on the mounds as archaeological features in their own right. There are suggestions that certain tumuli were aligned along ancient routes, or with monumental architecture of the Citadel Mound. The present study embeds the tumuli within their landscape and considers them intentional transformations of the environment. Through a careful reconstruction of ancient routes, using digital methodologies to model their paths and views along them, combined with personal reconnaissance to document the phenomenology of traveling, I will describe the process of monumentalizing this landscape that unfolded over several centuries, its spatial and chronological distribution, and what it implies about the changing sociopolitical situation at Gordion. Several routes will be shown to share characteristics of monumental construction related to movement and visibility that vary according to topography and the sociopolitical relationship between Gordion other settlements, suggesting strong cultural cohesion throughout the landscape that should be connected to a process of regional coalescence centered on Gordion. I will also discuss the role of the tumuli within Phrygian society, moving beyond a simple designation as royal burials, and focusing on the physical properties of the tumuli - their presence in the landscape, the activities and labor required for their construction, and how these aspects changed over the three hundred years during which they were built. The monuments did not disappear after the Iron Age, but outlasted the sociopolitical system that produced them. The dissertation therefore will conclude by examining how the tumuli survived as physical objects in a changing landscape while signifying something about the history of the area.

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