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Saturday, August 24: Day 124 – Goldfinger

Phrygians came from the west and settled in western turkey. They brought with them the building of a tumulus for their dead. One of the most famous tumuli called the Midas tomb is from the 7th century BC. They placed their dead inside large wooden structures inside earth mounds. These beams look like they had been cut recently.

Midas was a real person. The legends or myths are likely to address an ideal or charactertistic. Midas was greedy. He was rich like his contemporary, Croesus. He was the original “Goldfinger, the man with the Midas touch.”

In order to excavate the Midas Tumulus, miners from the north of Turkey were enlisted. They had to dig deep and strengthen the walls since there was so much earth on top of the tumulus. In the center is royalty with its treasure. Other tumuli have not been excavated.

The army police patrol this area since there are many unearthed tumuli with treasure. However, special equipment and time are needed.

This tumulus is more likely to have been built by Midas for his father Gordius of the Gordian knot. This tumulus is the biggest in the area at 175 feet. A tumulus has been located in Scotland.

The small yet mighty kingdom of the Hittites collapsed when the Phyrgians came from west. Hittites became like Phrygians. They merged cultures and gods and even hyphenated the gods names. Matar from the Phrygian and Kubileya from the Hittite.

Old people of the city would advise the ruler. They had determined from an oracle that the next man on an ox cart who came to the town would be the next king.

The farmer Gordius drove into town in an oxcart. Celebrations began and he was crowned king. Midas, his son, tightly tied the cart to a post in gratitude to the gods. It was so tight that it was impossible to untie. In fact, it was said that whoever could untie it would conquer Asia Minor.

Today, the Gordian knot refers to problem that is difficult, almost impossible to solve. In carpet making, knots that they tie are referred to as Gordian knots.

The real story is about patience. One needs patience to conquer lands. Speed isn’t always the best way. One needs a system. It can’t be untied by pulling from both sides. Alexander the Great is said to have untied the knot by cutting it or taking out the pin of the post.

Midas washed himself in the River Pactolus to cure himself of turning everything he touched into gold. It runs nearby and through Phrygia. The river was a modern battle site in the 1920s between Turkey and Greece of which Atatürk lead.

In a Phyrgian burial, the caldron was most expensive thing found in royal tombs. Phyrgian’s invented flutes, the pan flutes. They brought them eastward.

When Midas judged the music contest between Apollo who played the lyre and Maryias who played flute, there might have been some favoritism for which Midas paid dearly. Midas did not choose wisely and was given big ears (donkey ears) as a result. Maybe that is why Phrygians wore funny pointed hats that covered their ears.


Within several miles of the Midas Tumulus is the city of Gordion. You can see the Midas Tumulus from Gordion.

An excavation of this ancient city revealed the oldest pavement mosiacs in the world. They were made of different colors of pebbles.

In 800BC, a fire destroyed much of the city but they built it back.

Persians attacked Gordion in 549BC by building an earth ramp to come over the walls.

Later, Galatians which originated as Celtic tribes came from the Balkans. They brought their funerary rites here and a Galatian tomb was found. It had been looted and is part of a rescue excavation.

Turkey has a hiking route called the Phrygian Way. It starts (or ends) in Gordion.

Phyrgian Way

(By the way, there is a Carian Way as well.)

Ruins of Kubileya Temple

Phrygians believed that Kubileya slept in the winter and she woke up in the spring. There was a festival on May 6th to worship the returning of Kubileya. This day is celebrated today in Turkey which reminds us again that many pagan festivals continue in countries and religions.

On this day in Turkey, the celebration seems harmles by jumping over fire to make a wish. I guess if you don’t make it, it doesn’t come true!! Also, one can tie a cloth to a tree and make a wish. This sounds safer.

Tradition in any country might seem harmless but may just have pagan origins. May we always ask why, as Jews do at Passover. This answer to the youngest inquirer points to what God did for His people.

The worship of Kubileya then transferred to Artemis then to Diana and then to …. US??

The Australians are excavating this site. It looked like a deserted ghost town.

Ertunga took us to a cemetery to see some ancient tombstones. I felt like I was in the schoolyard scene of the movie The Birds by Alfred Hitchcock. Watch this video.

In the 3rd century BC, Romans found the Kubileya temple statue and took it to Rome to bring luck in their war in Carthage. At that time, Phrygia was under rule of the Pergamon kingdom. They gave it to the Romans becausd they wanted good relations with Rome.

Midas City

Midas City was where the priests and royal family were buried. There was no temple. Sacrifices were placed in niches or performed in the open air.

The unique rock formations are reminiscent of Cappadocia but these are lava rock only, no ash.

If only these rocks could talk, or maybe they do. Here is the location of their worship, and it is oriented to illuminate at sunrise.

This one is for the sunset but it was never completed. The half-done companion monument serves to illustrate how these monuments were made.

We walked all around this site and peaked inside various tombs. We heard a citywide announcement over the minaret speakers. Ertunga said that all announcements are made this way. This makes total sense since speakers are already in use for calls to prayer.

Apparently, the whole town was invited to the wedding celebration this evening. How exciting! If only Rob had packed his suit!!!

Here is a book that I would like to read about some of the earliest observations in Asia Minor.

Early Observations

We traveled many miles to get to Bursa and on the way we saw camps of Syrian refugees. Turkey supports more refugees than any other country.


Iznik is the modern city of Nicea. Iznik tiles are made here. It was an Ottoman center. Many mosques use these tiles.

Antigonus, one of the generals of Alexander the Great controlled this city and another general named Lysimachus fought and defeated him. This city was renamed for his wife, Nicaea, who had recently died.

Nicaea is the site of the first ecumenical council of 325 AD where 128 bishops met to discuss the Canon and the nature of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

Arius from Alexandria contended that Jesus was only human, not God. We know that He is all God, and all human.

The original church is under the water in the lake due to one of the many earthquakes in Turkey. The city walls are mostly intact. We saw a second Nicaean church with ancient frescoes.


Bursa was the first capital of the Ottoman Empire. There were beginnings of a capitol in Nicea before there was an empire. The kebab originated in Bursa.

We went to the Green Mosque of Mehmed I. Its outer design is traditional and the color of the green tiles are within the mosque. It is shaped like a beehive with the 99 names of Allah in Arabic.

Names for God in the Bible and What They Mean

Later, we go to his mausoleum where he and his children (and even his nanny) are buried. The Sultan did not have wives.

We arrived at our beautiful hotel where 3 weddings were taking place. We ate dinner on the balcony so I guessed that we went to a wedding after all and Rob didn’t have to change!

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