Museum Lecture by Geoffrey D. Summers “The Anatomy of the Iron Age Capital on the Kerkenes Dağ

Geoffrey D. Summers
“The Anatomy of the Iron Age Capital on the Kerkenes Dağ”

The Iron Age capital on the Kerkenes Dağ is almost certainly to be identified with the Pteria of Herodotus. Pteria was probably the name of both the city and the state that it controlled. It was a new foundation on an elevated site that, in the period of the Hittite Empire, had been a sacred mountain, probably Mount Daha which was the abode of the Weather God of Zippalanda. The site dominates the main east-west highway and numerous routes to the north and south. Its gleaming new walls would have been seen from considerable distances. Some of the implications of this extraordinary location will be discussed.
The material remains, including city gate plans, building of all sizes, architectural embellishment, cult steles, statuary and relief sculpture, inscription and graffiti, pottery and metalwork, all appear to be entirely Phrygian. Therefore a case will be made for suggesting that the foundation of this city marks the movement or migration of a substantial number of people from somewhere in central or western Phrygia across the Halys River (Kızılırmak) into an area where these newcomers were able to dominate the surrounding territory.
Results of the remote sensing survey have made it possible consider the morphology of this city and its urban infrastructure from several points of view, with the result that it may now be possible to recognise urban sectors and districts. Additionally, there is now good evidence for elite blocks as well for areas where the mass of the urban population lived and worked. Thus we may now have reached a stage at which it is possible to put forward an overview of a culturally Phrygian city as it was at the moment of its destruction in the middle of the sixth century BC, on the very eve of the Persian conquest. Ultimately this strong capital of a minor state was crushed between the global powers of the time, Lydia and the Persia of Cyrus, and all but forgotten until revealed by archaeology.