Arche­ol­o­gists in Turkey have un­cov­ered mys­te­ri­ous an­cient king­dom lost in his­tory

Iran Daily - - Cultural Heritage & Environmen­t -

It was said that all he touched turned to gold. But des­tiny even­tu­ally caught up with the leg­endary King Mi­das, and a long-lost chron­i­cle of his an­cient down­fall ap­pears to have lit­er­ally sur­faced in Turkey.

Last year, arche­ol­o­gists were in­ves­ti­gat­ing an an­cient mound site in cen­tral Turkey called Türk­men-karahöyük. The greater re­gion, the Konya Plain, abounds with lost me­trop­o­lises, but even so, re­searchers couldn’t have been pre­pared for what they were about to find, sci­enceal­ re­ported.

A lo­cal farmer told the group that a nearby canal, re­cently dredged, re­vealed the ex­is­tence of a large strange stone, marked with some kind of un­known in­scrip­tion.

“We could see it still stick­ing out of the wa­ter, so we jumped right down into the canal — up to our waists wad­ing around,” said arche­ol­o­gist James Osborne from the Univer­sity of Chicago ear­lier this year.

“Right away it was clear it was an­cient, and we rec­og­nized the script it was writ­ten in: Luwian, the lan­guage used in the Bronze and Iron ages in the area.”

With the aid of trans­la­tors, the re­searchers found that the hi­ero­glyphs on this an­cient stone block — called a stele — boasted of a mil­i­tary vic­tory. And not just any mil­i­tary vic­tory, but the de­feat of Phry­gia, a king­dom of Ana­to­lia that ex­isted roughly 3,000 years ago.

The royal house of Phry­gia was ruled by a few dif­fer­ent men called Mi­das, but dat­ing of the stele, based on lin­guis­tic anal­y­sis, sug­gests the block’s hi­ero­glyph­ics could be re­fer­ring to the King Mi­das — he of the fa­mous ‘golden touch’ myth.

The stone mark­ings also con­tained a spe­cial hi­ero­glyphic sym­bol­iz­ing that the vic­tory mes­sage came from another king, a man called Har­tapu. The hi­ero­glyphs sug­gest Mi­das was cap­tured by Har­tapu’s forces.

“The storm gods de­liv­ered the [op­pos­ing] kings to his majesty,” the stone reads.

What’s sig­nif­i­cant about this is that al­most noth­ing is known about King Har­tapu, nor about the king­dom he ruled. None­the­less, the stele sug­gests the gi­ant mound of Türk­men-karahöyük may have been Har­tapu’s cap­i­tal city, span­ning some 300 acres in its hey­day, the heart of the an­cient con­quest of Mi­das and Phry­gia.

“We had no idea about this king­dom,” Osborne said. “In a flash, we had pro­found new in­for­ma­tion on the Iron Age Mid­dle East.”

There’s a lot more dig­ging to be done in this on­go­ing arche­o­log­i­cal project, and the find­ings so far should be con­sid­ered pre­lim­i­nary for now. The in­ter­na­tional team is ea­ger to re­visit the site this year, to find out what­ever more we can about this king­dom seem­ingly lost in his­tory.

JAMES Osborne/sci­enceal­

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