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It is widely believed that King Midas had ruled over an area around modern-day Turkey in ancient times. According to Greek mythology, he could turn everything to gold with his touch! Although there is a lot of discussion about him in different historical scripts, his empire lay undiscovered. Archaeologists, who recently found some evidence of a mysterious ancient kingdom seemingly lost in history, believe that they have discovered the Midas Empire…

The discovery has been made in Türkmen-Karahöyük, an area situated in the central part of present-day Turkey. A local farmer had found a giant stone near a canal in the area in 2019. He immediately realised the historic value of the stone as it was marked with some kind of unknown inscription, and he informed the concerned authorities.

The half-submerged stone with inscriptions dating to the 8th century BCE.

Archaeologist James Osborne from the University of Chicago said: “We could see it still sticking out of the water, so we jumped right down into the canal – up to our waists wading around.” He added: “Right away it was clear it was ancient, and we recognised the script it was written in: Luwian, the language used in the Bronze and Iron Ages in the area.

With the help of translators, Osborne and his associate Researchers found that the hieroglyphs on the ancient stone block – called a Stele – described a military victory and also the defeat of Phrygia, a kingdom of Anatolia that existed around 3,000 years ago. The archaeologists are of the opinion that the war had taken place during the reign of legendary King Midas. It is to be noted that the Phrygian Kingdom flourished under Midas from about 725 BC to 675 BC.

Luwian inscriptions uncovered on a stone from a nearby dig.

As per the special hieroglyphic, the victory message had come from another king, Hartapu. Osborne stressed that Hartapu’s forces might have captured Midas… and, the stone reads: “The storm gods delivered the (opposing) kings to his majesty.” Meanwhile, Osborne claimed that they had no information about King Hartapu and also about the kingdom he had ruled. From the Stele, the archaeologists guessed that the giant mound of Türkmen-Karahöyük might have been Hartapu’s capital city, spanning some 300 acres of land in the heart of the ancient conquest of Midas and Phrygia. “We had no idea about this kingdom. In a flash, we had profound new information on the Iron Age Middle East,” insisted Osborne.

Meanwhile, Osborne has informed the media that they would have to do a lot more digging, in order to know more about this kingdom, saying: “Inside this mound are going to be palaces, monuments, houses. This Stele was a marvellous, incredibly lucky find. But, it’s just the beginning.”

The Phrygian city Midaeum was presumably named after King Midas, and this is probably also the Midas that, according to Pausanias, founded Ancyra. According to Aristotle, legend held that Midas died of starvation as a result of his “vain prayer” for the golden touch. The legends told about this Midas and his father Gordias, credited with founding the Phrygian capital city of Gordium and tying the Gordian Knot (Alexander reportedly cut through it), indicating that they were believed to have lived sometime in the 2nd millennium BC, well before the Trojan War. However, Homer did not mention Midas or Gordias. Instead, he mentioned two other Phrygian kings, Mygdon and Otreus.

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