Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The Burial of Midas' Father

Fig. 1 - Phrygian Bronze Cauldron
     The Penn Museum has a really interesting exhibit that gives the visitor a very good idea of what the burial of a Phrygian King, in this case the father of the famous King Midas (the king with the golden touch), must have been like.

     The burial is what is known as a tumulus interment. The deceased was buried in a chamber that was then covered by a huge (and I mean huge!) mound called a tumulus. This particular burial dates to about 740 B. C. and was found in Turkey, which is where the Phrygian empire was located.

Fig. 2 - Winged Figure from the Bronze Cauldron
     Midas' father was apparently past his 60th birthday when he died. He was buried with dozens of objects made of bronze, including a large "cauldron" (fig. 1). The cauldron had four winged figures on its rim and each of these figures had a ring attached to it. Was this pot at times suspended in the air using these rings? There were also smaller bronze pots and bowls found within this tumulus (fi. 3).

Fig. 3 - Bronze Pots and Bowls from Tumulus MM

The museum has also included an interactive display of what the burial chamber looked like at the end of the funeral. You can see the body of the deceased (fig. 4) and then scroll around the burial chamber to see where all of the objects were left before the tomb was closed.

Fig. 4 - Computer Display of the Burial as it Originally Appeared
     The Phrygians do not often get mentioned in books about archaeology, but the bronze work from this tomb is highly sophisticated and, in its own way, quite attractive. Sometime soon, perhaps I will have a chance to cover the Phrygians in more detail.


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