Skip to comments.So Who Is Buried in Midas's Tomb?
Posted on 12/24/2001 10:12:01 PM PST by a_Turk
Refinements of radiocarbon dates appear to rob the monumental tomb at Gordion of its claim to having been the final resting place of the illustrious King Midas, researchers reported last week in the journal Science.
American and European scientists analyzed the effects of the sun's cycles on amounts of radioactivity absorbed from year to year, as recorded in tree rings. They said the research had given archaeologists and historians a more precise chronology for the Middle East and Aegean regions in the Bronze and Iron Ages.
One of the researchers, Dr. Peter I. Kuniholm, an archaeologist at Cornell University, said the revised chronology meant that most early dates were older than previously thought by 22 years.
In particular, that would put a date of about 740 B.C. on the wooden furnishings in the tomb at Gordion, in central Turkey.
But Assyrian texts indicate that Midas ruled the kingdom of Phrygia after 718. So the imposing tomb, some 150 feet high and 1,000 feet wide, was presumably built as a memorial to a predecessor, perhaps the father or grandfather of Midas.
The research for the revised timeline was mainly conducted by Dr. Bernd Kromer, a physicist at the Heidelberg Academy of Science in Germany; Dr. Sturt W. Manning, an archaeologist at the University of Reading in England, as well as Dr. Kuniholm.
Some scholars had already suspected that, though Midas was a real and powerful king, the tomb could not have been built for him. Nonetheless, when scientists at the University of Pennsylvania analyzed the residue in dirty dishes and drinking cups from the tomb, they announced two years ago that these were leftovers from the feast consumed probably at the funeral of Midas. The university even gave a dinner party featuring a menu fit for Midas barbecued lamb and a drink of wine, beer and honey.
Dr. Keith R. DeVries, an archaeologist at Penn, accepted the new dating with equanimity: "I guess you might say, Midas just lost his dinner."
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