Trekking the Phrygian Highlands (the people of King Midas) – Day 2: more tombs and Midas City
On our second day of trekking through the Phrygian Highlands we were rewarded with bright skies and warmer weather, which made climbing to see even more tombs and ruins/rocks a lot easier.
We started with Doğal Kale, which means Hawk Castle. We climbed through it, but it’s mostly empty rooms and broken ladders. Not much is known, except that it’s really old and people used to live here. The area surrounding it is absolutely breathtaking and nearly free of people. The sun was shining, trees were budding, bees were buzzing and the birds were chirping – I didn’t want to leave!
Next up was the Ariastes Monument, which was likely a dedication and not a tomb. It was another example of the Phrygian Monument style. The writing around the monument probably says that it is a dedication from a priest to Mater, or the mother goddess, commonly known as Kibele. It probably dates to the 5th century and is unfinished (look at how the work at the bottom just stops).
Going back to tombs, we stopped at late Hellenistic or Persian tomb that was likely modified by the Romans at some point. There was original red paint in a pattern. Like most of the historic tombs dotting the landscape, these were raided long ago, and now inside you just see crevices where the corpse and its things were.
The highlight of the trip was Midas City, which is named for a huge wall monument that shines bright over the whole valley in the morning sun. At least that’s what I imagine, as we got there in the afternoon. Regardless of its natural lighting, the monument is truly impressive. I couldn’t believe that it hasn’t been restored since the 5th century B.C.
You can see how tall it is with the person scale.
It’s called the Midas Monument because the name is mentioned on the inscription at the top, although the archaeologists thinks that it was more likely built by the conquering Persians as a way to legitimize the new ruler by appeasing their new subjects with mention of the subjects’ hero (Midas) and gods (Ates and Matar). Matar statues were found inside but are now displayed at the Afyon museum. Midas probably became a name for King, the way Caesar became a noun after Julius’s illustrious career. Moreover, there were at least 2 other Phrygian King Midases.
Of course, there’s more to the city than just the wall, although spotting most of the ruins really required the archaeologist to point them out to us. I thought we were just walking by rocks and enjoying the fresh air!
Earlier in the trip, we waited out some of the rain by visiting the Eskisehir Archaeology Museum. Here are some of the Phrygian items that have been found:
The scenery was just amazing! Here are a few parting shots: