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Bin Tepe


Tumuli at the Lydian royal cemetry at Bin Tepe. Photo Jona Lendering. Bin Tepe: place near Sardes where the kings of Lydia were buried.

The tumuli of the Lydian royal cemetry at Bin Tepe ('thousand mounds') can be found a bit north of Sardes. It was not uncommon in ancient Anatolia to bury a king in an artificial hill (e.g., there are similar tumuli at Troy and Gordium). The hill on the right of the first photo was named after king Gyges (c.680-644), the founder of the Mermnad dynasty. It has been investigated but the burial chamber was found empty.

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The tumulus of Alyattes at Bin Tepe. Photo Jona Lendering.

The tumulus of Alyattes (c.600-c.560), shown on the second photo, has a diameter of 355 meter and is no less than 69 meter high. It was erected by his son Croesus and could be identified because it is described by the Greek researcher Herodotus of Halicarnassus and the geographer Strabo of Amasia. The hills must have belonged to the most impressive monuments of the Aegean world. In Antiquity, these mounds were probably crowned by giant phalloi.

One of the tumuli at Bin Tepe. Photo Jona Lendering. Two tumuli at Bin Tepe. Photo Jona Lendering. One of the tumuli at Bin Tepe. Photo Jona Lendering.
One of the tumuli at Bin Tepe. Photo Jona Lendering. One of the tumuli at Bin Tepe. Photo Jona Lendering. One of the tumuli at Bin Tepe. Photo Jona Lendering.
Lake Gyges. Photo Jona Lendering. A satellite photo of Bin Tepe is here.

Lake Gyges

Not far from the site is Lake Gyges, which is also mentioned in Homer's Iliad; this seems to prove that at least part of the famous poem was written after this king's reign, but the point can not be forced. After all, "Gyges" is just a Greek rendering of a Lydian name, and it is possible that the Greeks rendered two different names identically.

A satellite photo of the lake, which is now called Marmara Gölü, is here.
© Jona Lendering for
Livius.Org, 2004
Revision: 20 July 2010
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