Tumulus Photo Gallery

Because one of the tumuli of the Phrygian Necropolis in Ankara was partly and another entirely destroyed by scoops during the construction of the Gençlerbirliği Sports Establishment in 1986, a salvage excavation project was realized at the site in 1986-88 jointly by METU Museum and Archaeological Research Centre and Museum of Anatolian Civilizations under the scientific consultation of Prof. Dr. Sevim Buluç (Buluç, S. 1993: 83-95). Archaeological discoveries confirming that descriptions of burial customs given in written historical sources, such as Hittite texts or Homeric epics, (Georgiava, R. 1998: 61-64) were similar to those of the Phrygians as well as of other societies living in the Southeastern Europe and Anatolia, especially theThracians. Similar characteristics may be explained by common Indo-European origins and intense cultural-social relations that have been revealed by these excavations.

The building technique of the tumulus could be fully observed where the scoops had been cut through the tumulus. A burnt layer on the flattened virgin soil, starting from the center of the tumulus and extending towards its eastern side, is evidence of the cremation ritual.The tumulus had been constructed on the burnt layer by accumulating different heaps which may be distinguished from differences in colour and texture, into small mound (Mellink, M. 1990:141, fig. 18).

Bones from two oxen and potsherds were discovered lying on a thin layer of soil which covers some burnt logs in the eastern corner of the tumulus. A thin white layer over the logs attested that the logs had been covered by heaps of earth immediately after the fire had been extinguished with liquid.The logs were not totally extinguished and kept on burning inside, with the load of earth layer above, thus animal bones and pots were burnt in the glowing charcoal, while unburned parts were preserved.

Immediately to the south of the cremation area is a small area half cut away by bulldozer; ash and pieces of burnt bone were discovered inside a pot found adjacent to logs. Another burnt group of material was detected to the south, a little away from the cremation area. Pottery discovered here also bears traces of fire. Among them were at least two highly deformed terracotta ovens or braziers. After removal of the pottery and vitrified ovens, timber and bronze plates were discovered at a lower level (Mellink 1990: 141, fig. 19).

Several of the highly burnt and thick round pieces of charred wood found here here must have belonged to a wheel. Additional finds resembling yokes and axle tips as well as some bronze rings point to a carriage having been burnt (Kökten, H. 1998: 107 ff). Although one third of the cremation area had previously been destroyed by bulldozer cuts, that part of the cremation area close to the centre of the tumulus was totally unearthed and documented.

Two trenches opened in the centre of the tumulus in 1988 indicated that the burial chamber inside had most probably collapsed, as was the case in the other examples. As the excavations penetrated down from the top of the tumulus, a pit dug into the virgin soil was discovered at 10 m, with four dry-stone masonry walls, two of which were well-preserved while the other two had been totally disturbed by the excavations ofT. Makridi (Makridi,T. 1926: 38-45).Traces indicating the presence of a timber chamber and a small fragment from a fibula were detected among these 1.5 m-thick heaps of stone and at the bottom.The similarity of this fibula fragment with another fibula recovered from the cremation area, as well as the character of the heaps of earth seen in the sections of the trenches point to the possibility of the burial chamber having being contemporary with the cremation ceremonies.

It’s understood that the animal bones recovered here belong to an ox and that it was sacrificed and burned as gift in the cremation area (Tekkaya, İ, 1988: 81-87). Based on these data, it is understood that the ritual sacrifice was carried out before the burial chamber was closed and the tumulus structure finished (Mellink, M. 2006: 1). Parallels to recovered fragments of sheet bronze from the ceremonial wagon decorated with patterns of dots inside squares in repoussé technique are observed inTumulus J at Gordion (Mellink 1990: 141, fig. 16; Köhler 1995: 65, J22-26, pl. 37c) while the fibula example recovered is parallel to type XII, 14 (Mellink, M. 1990:141, fig. 17). According to these data, this tumulus, which can be dated to early 7th century BC, is a rare example where the design of platform on which special ceremonies were held during burial rituals are clearly seen in relation to the related to the burial chamber (Mellink, M. 2006: 1).