"Tomb of Midas"


Gordium: capital of ancient Phrygia, modern Yassihüyük.

The great tomb of Gordium

The Great Tumulus, or Tumulus MM, or the "tomb of Midas" in Gordium has a diameter of 300 meters and is 47 meters high. It was built for a very important man, whose body has been found in a wooden chamber that measured about 6 x 5 meters. Even the contents of his last diner could be reconstructed.

The name "tomb of Midas" is modern. Because the timber used in the inner chamber was dendrochronologically dated to about 740 BCE, the deceased cannot be identical to the Mit-ta-a mentioned in an Assyrian text as the ruler of "Muški", who asked Assyrian support in 710/709. (According to Eusebius, this Midas died in 695.) Apart from this chronological problem, it is now doubted Muški was the Assyrian word for Phrygia.

The Greek authors Plato (Phaedrus, 264D) and Dio Chrysostom (Oration 37, 38) say that there was a Greek epitaph on the tomb, but the text is probably an invention:

A maid of bronze am I. I mark the grave
of Midas. While water flows and trees grow tall,
here will I bide by the tear-drenched tomb and tell
ye passers-by that Midas lies here.

Among the funeral gifts was one of the oldest alphabetic inscriptions outside Phoenicia.