The Great Tumulus

Located at the south on the way to Çiftlik and about 500m west of the junction of the Konya highway and the Çiftlik road, this tumulus is the largest of all so far discovered at the Ankara Phrygian Necropolis. It still retains its 125m-wide diameter and 24m height.


The Great Tumulus, the excavation of which had previously been abandoned due to security problems aroused by the tunnel trenched by T. Macridy, formed the main focus of the 1967 Project by METU. Then, the excavation was directed following the discovery of the burial chamber using geophysical methods.


The Burial Chamber


Our information as to the construction technology is limited due to the collapse of the roof, which filled the inside of the chamber entirely with large pieces of stone. It is presently unclear whether the burial chamber had been located inside a pit dug into the main soil, as in other Phrygian tumuli, or constructed directly above the level of the ground. Joints at two corners of the chamber are in the form of çalmaboğaz while those at the other two are kurtboğazı, a construction technique commonly used in Anatolia. The burial chamber measures approximately 3.5m by 4.5m, with a 1.55m height as could be measured from the ground. As can be understood from the remains from timber rafters between stones over the level of the timber wall, the roof had been spanned by two or three rows of timber beams. The floor of the chamber had been finished by a timber floor over a stone floor. Findings: Most of the burial gifts were discovered alined along the north and west walls of the chamber, with bronze objects in the zone from the centre of the north wall towards the east corner and pottery from the centre of the north wall towards the west and in front of the west wall. The placement and orientation of the dead body was determined on the basis of several bones from the skeleton, twenty-two fibulae and some bronze pieces, presumably from a belt, all of which were discovered in front of the east wall.


 Phiale, 7th century B.C.                                                                   Great Tumulus, Lebes Pots, 7th century B.C.


Fibulae and ornamented pottery were discovered inside a cauldron located at the southwest corner of the chamber. Another cauldron containing bronze cups had been placed at the diagonal corner as a burial gift. Pieces of cloth, which have knit to the rim of this second cauldron in time, demonstrate that the gifts had once been covered with a cloth. A bronze cauldron was discovered upside down over one of the two iron trivets located at the centre of the north wall while a considerable amount of bronze cups were found below and around the other trivet . The same area also produced pieces of wood with about 5cm thickness as well as bowls with ompholos and phiales, mostly discovered stuck into one another. The position of the bronze objects as discovered point to the possibility of their having been stored on a table or a shelf, occasionally on top of each other.


Terra cotta findings recovered from the front of the north wall exhibit a rich variety: small jars, amphoras, lebes pots, pots with spouted brims, flat-bottomed and high-stemmed cups. Among the findings were two pottery in lebes form with a round body shape, and fine black burnished, the rim of which were covered with bronze plates. Chemical analyses demonstrated the ashy material inside the lebes pots to be remains from cooked food. Similarly, amphoras with and without handle, recovered from the front of the northeast wall, were discovered to have been used for storing food and beverage based on analysis of the ashy material inside them.



 Great Tumulus, Amphora, 7th century B.C.          Great Tumulus, Bronze Cups, 7th century B.C.

The presence of so numerous material at the same spot can only be explained by the existence of a long table. The pottery should have been placed beneath such a table. Additionally, piece of a handle stuck to the wall and the trace of a pan over the wall point to the possibility of some gifts' having been hung on the wall with nails. The discovery of one end of a bronze piece with linear print ornament on the wall and the other end on the floor point to the possibility of its having been a belt which had been hung on the wall.


The numerous square pieces of wood, which were discovered stuck to the floor towards the centre of the room close to the south wall, should have belonged to a piece of furniture with mosaic-like treatment.


The tumulus has been dated to the end of 8th century BC on the basis of findings inside the burial chamber and especially of the typology of the fibulae.