Turkish farmer uncovers possible ancient city
A “lost ancient kingdom” from between 900-600BC has been discovered by archaeologists by chance in Turkey.
Hieroglyphs in a stone suggest the rulers may have conquered the civilisation ruled by legendary King Midas.
An international team working on an archaeological dig in Ankara heard about a farmer who had come across a large and unusual piece of rock while cutting a drainage ditch on his land.
Dr James Osborne of the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago said: “Right away it was clear it was ancient, and we recognised the script it was written in [as] Luwian, the language used in the bronze and iron ages in the area.”
A hieroglyph for “great king” and another symbol always surrounds the name of a ruler. The Indo-European language revealed it was dedicated to a king called Hartapu.
The details Hartapu’s defeat of the kingdom of Mushka, which is thought to be Phrygia of the mythical Midas.
The hieroglyphics read: “When Great King [Hartapu], Hero, son of Mursili, conquered the country of Mushka, the enemy descended upon his territory, but the Stormgod of Heaven and all the gods delivered its 13 kings to His Majesty, Great King Hartapu. In a single year, he placed the 13 kings, their weapons, and animals under the authority of 10 strong-walled fortresses.”
The team said the find dates back to the late 8th century BC, which coincides with the reign in Phrygia of a king called Midas. He was probably one of several Phrygian rulers of that name. The king is believed to have traded with states in Greece and fought neighbouring Anatolian rulers.
The Phrygia kingdom endured until the 7th century when it was conquered by Cimmerian invaders.
The archeological team has speculated that the site may be Tarhuntassa, briefly the capital of the Hittite empire. In the 13th century BC, the Hittite king Muwatalli II, an adversary of the Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses II, relocated his capital from Hattusa to Tarhuntassa, although his son returned to the original city.
Pottery at the site indicates that it was powerful from 1,400BC to 600BC. Michele Massa of the British Institute of Ankara, who is working on the project, said the size of the remains and the fertile basin location supported the Tarhuntassa theory.
The team is hoping to search for underground structures this summer. “Inside this mound are going to be palaces, monuments, houses. This stele [stone] was a marvellous, incredibly lucky find, but it’s just the beginning,” Osborne said.
Midas and a henchman lying in wait for Silenos. Picture credit: Wikimedia