5/27/2007 Phrygian language, translation showing conjugation and declension patterns and vocabulary.



The Phrygian language
Translation of Phrygian scripts

 by Mel Copeland
(Based on a related work, Etruscan Phrases,
first published in 1981)


Archeological Reports

G. Kenneth Sams, "Gordion and the Kingdom of Phrygia."

G. Kenneth
Sams, University of North Carolina, contributed a paper in the publication "Frigi e Frigio" that summarizes the dates and composition of artifacts found in Gordion, and by reference, to Midas City, based on the archeological reports of Young DeVries and others. He says:

Gordion lies about 100 km southwest of Ankara, on the Sangarios (modern Sakarya) river, and also on the Eskişehir-Ankara railroad line. During the construction of the railroad, the site was visited in 1893 by Alfred Kőrte, who identified it as Gordion. The location concurs with Classical testimonia, which also relate that Gordion had been the capital of the kingdom of Phrygia and the ruling sea of Midas.

The Classical sources furthr inform us on Midas and the Phrygians. The Phrygians were said to have come into Anatolia from southeastern Europe; they were known for the breeding of horses, elaborate textiles and distinctive music. They worshipped a mother goddess, sometimes known as Kybele. As for Midas..he founded Ankyra; he married a Greek princess from Aiolian Kyme; he was the first non-Greek ruler to make a dedication at Delphi; and he died at the onslaught of the Kimmerians. For the last event, we have a date of 696/695 B.C., provided by the Latin and Armenian translations of Eusebios. The same translations tell us that Midas became king in 742 or 738 B.C.; if we can accept either set of dates, he would have ruled for somewhat over 40 years.

We receive corroboration for his dates from the contemporary annals of Sargon of Assyria, which show "Mita" as being politically active in Tabal and northern Syria from 717 to 709 B.C. We also see Midas in a Phrygian inscription in the Phrygian Highlands, on the Midas Monment at Midas City. The district is noted for its rupestral architectural facades. Most seem to be of a religious nature; several mention Phrygian Matar in their inscriptions. The inscription directly above the facade, where Ates dedicates to "Midas, leader of the people and king," may refer to the late-8th-century Midas. Yet current thinking among several scholars would place the monument itself in the 6th century.

...In the year 1900 alfred and Gustav Kőrte came to Gordion to carry out a single season of excavatin. Most of their attention was concentrated on burial mounds or "tumuli," about which more will be said below. The richest, Kőrte Tumulus III, contained an array of luxury goods, including bronze vessels, wooden furniture, and elaborate pottery. Assuming the tomb to be Phrygian and to belong to the time of Midas, Alfred Kőrte dated it to the late 8th century B.C., a date that today cannot be improved upon. The tomb presumably belonged to a member of the royal house of Phrygia.

In 1950, Rodney S. Young began excavations at Gordion, on behalf of the University Museum of the University of Pennsylvania. His work continued through 1973; excavations resumed in 1988...The focus of the excavations under Young came to be a fortified citadel of the 8th century B.C. Much of the citadel had been destroyed in a great fire, which Young early on attributed to the Kimmerians. The destruction can thus be dated to around 700 B.C., if the standard interpretation is accepted. The excavated citadel lies in the eastern half during his period. The most impressive monument of the site today is the great gate complex giving access to the citadel, still standing to a height of about 10 m. In its final phase, the passageway consisted of a ramp paved with carefully laid cobble-stones; the well preserved condition of the cobbles suggests that the gate did not see wheeled or animal traffic, and even pedestrian traffic may have been limited.

Within the citadel, excavation has revealed two major precincts. The one, which is taken to have been the Palace Quarter, consists of two large courtyards separated by a wall and flanked by monumental buildings. The second precinct, on a terrace at the southwest, consists of two large row-buildings. The type of building regularly seen here is a variety of megaron, with a large central room and an antechamber or porch. Megarons have a long history in Anatolia, for example in the citadel of Troy VI, and its is possible that the Phrygians borrowed the concept from local Anatolians. We also see echoes of earlier Anatolian traditions in Phrygian building techniques. The smallest of the megarons, Megaron 1, was built entirely of mudbrick and wood. Vertical insets in the walls originally held upright timbers; timbers also ran horizontally and transversely through the building. The technique can be traced back for millennia in anatolia, and even specific combinations of wood and mudbrick find parallels in earlier times.

Neighboring Megaron 1 is Megaron 2, a somewhat larger building with similar timbered construction; but here, instead of mudbrick, blocks of soft limestone were used in the timber frame. Megaron 2 was a special building. its main hall contained a richly-pattened mosaic ofdifferent-colored pebbles. The building is also exceptional for the wide variety of figural and abstract designs engraved on its exterior walls. Also found incised here are building facades, invariable shown with doors or windows, a double-pitched roof, and hornlike roof crowns or akroteria, as occur on the Midas Monument and other facades in the Phyrgian Highlands, e.g., the nearby Areyastis Monument. The device is also depicted on reliefs from Ankara that presumably show the Phrygian Matar standing in a doorway, perhaps the entrance to her temple. Megaron 2 itself may have had an akroterion, [in] a well preserved stone example found near the building. The possibility presents itself that Megaron 2 was a temple. If so, the engravings on the walls could perhaps be interpreted as offerings to the deity, who may have been Matar herself. The building held no contents that might help to secure this (or any other) identification.

The largest of the megarons, Megaron 3, stood prominently within the inner court of the Palace Quarter. Series of Wooden beams in the floor served as underpinnings for timbers that would have supported balconies and the roof; the main rows of supports divided the spacious hall into a nave with flanking side-aisles. When the citadel was destroyed, Megaron 3 burned with its contents intact - furnishings that reflect wealth and a luxurious life-style. These include ivory furnitur, which is essentially a Middle Eastern idea. Among the most precious finds from Megaron 3 are finely-woven textiles, sometimes appearing in technique to be miniature kilims. Along the rear wall of the building apparently stood a low, fabric-covered couch, perhaps not unlike an Ottoman divan. Size, furnishings, and the prominent yet secure location of the building suggest that this was the center of the Phrygian palace. Next to Megaron 3 stood Megaron 4, elevated on a terrace and approached by a cobble-stone ramp. The purpose of the building is not clear.

The row buildings on the terrace behind the Palace Quarter tell a different story. Each is essentially a single building, that at the northeast has been excavated for its total length of over 100 m., with eight individual units. All the units are of megaron plan, similar to Megaron 3 in having anave and side-aisles. almost all the rooms were lively cneters of domestic industry, primarily food and textile preparation. In the main rooms, grain was made into flour on grinding stones set on low platforms. The grinders worked beside spinners and weavers, whose implements are found in abundance in the rooms. The side aisles contained hundreds of clay vessels for dining, food preparation and storage. The anterooms were the kitchens, where cooks baked bread in large, domed ovens and prepared other foods on grills. A single one of these units would perhaps have been sufficient for the basic domestic needs of the citadel. Yet, since the same activities were repeated many times over from one hall to the next, the units surely bear witness to a high level of economic and social organization, with an administration to supervise it. Perhaps raw foodstuffs and other goods were brought here for processing and redistribution, as in a centralized palace economy. The large number of ceramic dining vessels found in the units might indicate that meals were taken either in the halls or nearby.

...Signs of foreign contact also occur, as with a group of horse-trappings in ivory, found in what may have been a treasury. Stylistically, they belong to the world of Syrian art. We know from Assyrian records that Mita-Midas had dealings with Pisiri of Carchemish. Ivory was a highly prized material in antiquity, worthy of kings. The horse-trappings could have been part of a royal or diplomatic gift exchange between the Phrygian court and a prince of Syria.

Our view of Phrygian civilization at this time is supplemented by the evidence from contemporary tumuli. This type of burial had not been indigenous to Anatolia, and it is likely that the concept was introduced from southeastern Europe. Over 80 tumuli mark the landscape around Gordion. They range in date from the 8th century into Hellenistic times. In all periods, they would have been for the elite of society. Kőrte Tumulus II can now be seen as typical for the period, in that the burial had been in a tomb-chamber of wood. Opposite it, on the other side of the Gordion Museum grounds, Young excavated Tumulus P, the burial of a child around five years old when he or she died. The tomb conatined much fine pottery, including zoomorphic vessels that might have been specially made todelight a youngster, either in this world or thenext. Equally suitable for a child's burial are a number of carved wooden animals, which might have been toys. The important child was also surrounded by elegant inlaid furniture. Roughly contemporary in date with Kőrte Tumulus III, the late 8th century, the burial could have been that of an offspring of Midas or another child within the royal household.

The earliest tumulus so far excavated is W, which lies about 2.5 km to the east of the citadel prominently situate on a ridge. The second largest tumulus at Gordion, it is dated on the basis of contents to ca. 750 B.C. According to limited skeletal remains, the occupant was a small adult, probably male. The sting of the tumulus is intriguing, for it is precisely aligned with the main (east-west) axis of the monumental gateway of the Early Phrygian citadel. For some reason, the occupant of the tomb, or his survivors, wished to establish this visual connection. Perhaps the monumental gate and fortifications had been a project of the deceased.

By far the largest of the early tumuli at Gordion is MM, which lies at the top (i.e., north) of a tirange it forms with Kőrte III and the child's tumulus. This impressive earthen monument originally rose to a height of about 50 m. Excavated in 1957, the tomb measures over 5 by 6 m. and has a double-pitched roof rising over 4 m. from the floor. Made primarily of pine, the tomb was surrounded by a casing of juniper logs, and the entire sturcture was enclosed by a massive stone wall. Recent investigations in the structure have revealed the curious presence of reused timbers. The occupant, a shortish man who had died in his early to mid 60s, lay in a wooden coffin against one wall. altogether, nearly 400 items accompanied him to the grave. These included several pieces of wooden furniture, such as a pair of inlaid serving stands and a highly intricate table, textiles, hundreds of bronze fibulae, and bronze vessels. also among the bronzes is a pair of large cauldrons with bir-demons, so-called "Sirens," on the rim, and a third with bull protomes. Like the ivory horse-trappings mentioned earlier, these are stylistically of Syrian origin and may again reflect the exchange of gifts between rulers. Whether the inhabitant of the tomb was actually Midas or another member of phrygian royalty is a continuing matter of controversy. The date of the burial, as gained archeaeologically, appears to have been close to the time of the destruction of the citadel, which is associated with the invasion of the Kimmerians and the death of Midas. yet others contend that the Phrygians, in the wake of the Kimmerian disaster, would have been in no position to undertake so ambitious a project as the construction of the tomb and the mounding up of the gigantic tumulus.

Among the earlierst Phrygian inscriptions we possess are five from the tumulus, some possibly being the names of those donating gifts to the burial. Assuming that the Phrygians borrowed their alphabet from the Greek world, its adoption could have resulted from Midas's dealings with the Greeks; in any event, Gordion has not yielded any firm evidence for Phrygian writing before the end of the 8th century.

By the first half of the 6th century, the Phrygian citadel is rebuilt at a much higher level. If one compares the new plan with that of the 8th-century citadel, the resemblances are striking: large megarons continue to be used, and the buildings almost one for one match those of the older complex. The builders, in other words, took pains to replicate the old citadel of Midas, as though in an effort to restore the greatness that Phrygia once had under him. As Keith DeVries has argued, this major renewal may belong to the same social and cultural climate that produced the Midas Monument at Midas City.

The new program of activities begun in 1988 includes resumed excavation and regional survey, both under the direction of Mary M. Voigt. The new work builds on, and very much complements, what had been achieved under Rodney Young. One important undertaking has been the investigation of the earlier history of the Phrygian citadel. The sector chosen was the outer court of the Palace Quarter. Some excavation in these earlier levels had already been carried out, but much remained that was not understood.

Since 1950 the excavators had been aware of a variety of handmade pottery that began to occur in the earliest Iron Age levels, directly above those of the Late Bronze Age. The pottery finds its closest parallels in Troy VIIb and in southeastern Europe, especially the region of Thrace, and thereby lends substance to the anceitn tradition of Phrygian origins. Yet the pottery was always found as refuse in fills or dumps, with no architectural setting to indicate the context of use. This situation changed in 1989, when for the first time the pottery was found in association with an architectural level. On of the structures was a modest house, set partially in the ground, with cooking and storage facilities. There was no admixture of the handmade pottery with earlier Hittite pottery, e.e., no indication that these presumed European newcomers were here mingling with local Anatolians. The date of the level could be as early as the 11th or 10th century, nor far removed from the time of Troy VIIb and its European-oriented handmade wares. We have no indications that the newcomers played a role in the collapse of the Hitttite empire; nor that they took the site by force. The likeliest scenario is that they migrated sometime after the Hittite collapse.

In the next habitation level in this area, the architecture is again modest and domestic, a house whose walls were made of poles, reeds and clay. Something may be missing in going from the previous level, with its handmade pottery, to this one, because here is found wheel-made potterty that diffrs little from advanced Phyrgian pottery, as known from the ca. 700 Destruction Level. In other words, a considerable development in ceramic technology has occurred. A situation may here exist in which the levels preserved are not providing a complete picture of the sequence of habitation. One of the vessels from the house bears close resemblance to a Thracian type of jug, as known in quantity from a burial at Taşhcabayir, near Kiklareli in European Turkey.

At some time subsequent to the burnt-reed house and its pottery, perhaps around the middle of the 8th century, pottery impressed before firing with a variety of decorative stamps begins to occur. In the Anatolian Iron Age, such pottery-stamping is known only at Gordion, Ankara and Midas City. The technique thus appears to have belonged exclusively to the Phrygians of west-central Anatolia. The only other region where such pottery-stamping is a common feature at this general time is Thrace. Certain motifs are also shared between Thrace and Phrygia, particularly the S-spiral, which also find analogies in European wire-made jewelry. It is perhaps not a coincidence that the S-spiral stamp is among the first to appear at Gordion.

As argued elsewhere, the picture that seems to emerge is that southeast European elements do not appear all at once at Gordion, but rather in a diachronic sequence that suggests renewed or continuing influxes of people and ideas over time, and perhaps not all coming from the same precise area. Even the ancient sources do not agree on the homeland of the Phrygians: alternately Thrace and Madedonia...From the archaelogical point of view, however, it seems likely that what we call Phrygian civilization emerged in Anatolia from an amalgam of European and Anatolian elements.

Alexander Fol, "The Paredroi between 'Midas City' and 'Midas Gardens.' "

Alexander Fol is with the Institute of Tracology, Sofia, Bulgaria and contributed this paper to the publication "Frigi e Frigio" (1)

1. After my studies on Thracian Orphism and on the paredria Great Goddess-Mother - (her) Son in oral Orphic rites and cults (Fol 1986, 1994, 1995), I began to avoid ethno-geographical terms as "Thrace/Phrygia" and even "Thraco-Phrygian," when speaking of religion and culture in Preroman Times. Instead of these rather contemporary than anceint visions, I do prefer the notion of "cultural contact zone" between the Tuaros-Tmolos-Ida Mountains in Western Asia Minor and the Haemos-Rhodopes Ranges in South-Eastern Europe. A synonym of this description may be "zone between Midas' city in Phrygia and Midas' gardens in Thrace" (in the so-called "Thraco-Macedonian region). This definition could be considered more exquisite and appropriate to written Greek sources, but in both cases the nucleous of this territory covers the chóra of Byzantium (Constantinople) to East/South-East and to West/North-West from the Bosphorus.

According to my terminology adopted for studies on non-literary societies observed by writing neighbours, oral beliefs, worship and rites are discernible "between Midas' city and Midas' gardens" throughout Greek (latin) "translations-designations of messages-metaphors." "Sabazios" is just one of these "translated messages."

It is understandable in Greek (Latin) as identification of the Son of the Great Goddess-Mother, known with her theonyms/epikleseis Meter/Mater/Kybeleya/Kybele/Epituve-Hipta/Kotytto/Misa, etc. or with the generalizing name Méter Theôn (cf. Gasparo 1985; Drew-Bear-Naour 1990, 1944-1949).

2. In Orphei Hymni
(2) 48, 1-6 Quandt (= OF II 199, 222 = CCIS II TA 24 = Fol 1994, No. 29) Sabazios "pater" is defined as "son of Kronos." His "son Bakkhos/Dionysos"reached the sacred mountain Tmolos in Lydia, where lives "Hiptan kallipáreion." In Orphei Hymni 49, 1-7 Quandt (= OF II 199, 223 = CCIS II TA 25 = Fol 1994, No. 30) Hipta (Hippa vulgo) is named "eyáda koúren," "chtonia méter" and basileia" of Phrygian Ida or Lydian Tmolos.

The theonym is to be identified in Procl. In Plat. Tim. 34B and 35B Diehl (= OF II 199, 211) in the Orphic position of "méter theon." "Méter Hipta" is known from the inscriptions CCIS II, 36, 37 and 40 in paredria with Zeus Sabazios. All documents are found in Lydia, but they could be from "Mysian origin," according to the publisher, and in this manner - to be related to the opinion of the "old Thracian belonging" of the goddess' name (Georgiev 1977, 54-55). This statement goes back to Kretschmer 1927, 76, No. 17, who allows "Epta as primary form of Hipta/Hippa.."

..Homer mentions the names of six rivers flowing down from Ida: Rhésos, Eptáporos, Káresos, Rodios, Grénikos, Aisoepos, Skámandros and Simóes..(Hom. II.12, 20-22)..

At the same time the Phrygian form "Eptuve" from the "black stone" in Tyana could be easily related to Hipta (Vassileva 1992, 3) and accepted as proof of the "Phrygian origin" of the theonym. This eventual discussion remains without importance for my idea of "cultural contact zone" and comes itself to impasse by two inscriptions from Thrace recently read in the Phrygian language. The first of them, dated in VIc. B.C., is engraved on a tomb-stone in the necropolis near Kjolmen village, region of Preslav in Eastern Haemos, and is read "Matar...ipt(i)," according to Orel 1993. The second inscription is a rock-text near Sitovo village at 30 km south-east of Plovdiv in the Rhodopes Range. After their own autopsia Bayun-Orel 1991, 144-148, dated the inscription in III-I c. B.C. and saw on the rock "Ipta" as "figurine, cult object, image (in paredria?) with Bacchus' figurine."

It is admissible that an ancient name of the Great Goddess-Mother was introduced in the contact zone between Midas' city and Midas' gardens as early as the period of the Old-Phrygian inscriptions. The theonym persists in the sacred langauge of the Thracian Orphism, but entered the literary Greek Orphism, too.

3. The Thracian "royal city" (s. Fol 1990, 72-119) of Kabyle was renamed Diospolis in the time of Diocletian (Velkov 1977, 130-131). The toponym was corrupted to Diampolis/Dampolis after the eleventh century and related to the new city on the site of the destroyed ancient town, i.e., to present day Yambol, in which the expected phonetic transcripton from the medieval form is absolutely correct.

Such a renaming of ancient cities with given names of gods and semi-gods under Diocletian could be considered as an ideological and political attempt within the framework of his reforms. "City of Zeus" instead of "Kabyle" - mentioned by Demosthenes in his description of the campaign of Philip II in Thrace - is not accidental at the beginning of the Fourth c. A.D. in the time of revaluation of old traditions. It is to be expected either translation of the Thracian place-name in Tonzos' (mod. Tundja river) valley in southern Bulgaria, or revealing of its meaning. The latter is most probable in spite of extravagant explanations of *Kab-'s etymology frm Engl. "quab" = "bog, boggy" from Slav. "zaba" = "frog" (Duridanov 1976, 38-39l /geirguev 1977, 82).

The nucleus of the "royal city" formed by a fortified residence-sanctuary was discovered at the acropolis of Kabyle, where a rock-cut sanctuary seems to be connected with the cult of the Great Goddess-Mother (Velkov 1982, 14). Her Greek "translation-designation" as Artemis Phosphoros come from "tó Phosphórion" in Kabyle, attested by IG-Bulg. III 2, 1731, 27-31, together with "eis tèn agoràn parà tòn bomòn toû Apóllonos." So, this couple in Hellenized Odrysian Thrace goes back to the old aniconic Thracian Orphic identifications in the paredria Mother-Son in his solar (ouranic) hypostase. The solar hypostase of the Son of the Great Goddess-Mother in oral Orphism is to be named most probably Sabazios (Tacheva-Hitova 1983, 187-189; fol 1994, 102-106) known as Zeus-Sabazios in the zone between Midas' city and Midas' gardens (Fol 1994, 216-294).

This solar (ouranic) hypostase of the Son remains in opposition to the chthonic one, i.e., to Dionysos Zagreus (Fol 1993), but in oral Orphism could replace it when envisaged as bearer of the balance Earth-Heaven. Then the god is realized as a more powerful identification of the Son and becomes more appropriated to the king's Orphic rites. The "Thraco-Phrygian" pactice to celebrate together "Sabazia" and "Metróa" (Strab. 10.3.15 Meineke; cf. Fol 1994, 118-134), comes to its full equivalence in the literary record of the rite by the two Orphic hymns for Hita-Sabazios. In the second of them the written form of the god's theonym is Sabas (Orphei Hymni 49, 2 Quandt).

4. Sab-os (Sabas in CIPP I M-08; s. reading and interpretation of this old-Phrygian graphite from Midas' city in Bayun-Orel 1988-1, 181) could be seen in Sau-component of the place-name "Sau-thaba" mentioned in the inscription on Rogozen vase No. 112 "Kotyos ex Sauthaba" (first half of IVc. B.C.), as well as in "Sau-ada" between Kardia and Aenos (Detschew 1976, 427). "Sau/Sab -" toponyms' composita in Thracian have to be related to "royal cities" with given theonmys according to Orphic tradition (Fol 1994, 66, 221, 276). They have one later parallel in the dedication on Zeus Bronton [S]aouádios from [S]aouáda in Phrygia, near modern Avdan (preserving the ancient toponym) in the region of Musalar Kőyű (Drew-Bear-Naour 199-, 2000 with nn. 344=346).

But "Sab-" is attested as "kab-" in the manuscripts, firstly, of Harpokr s.v. Saboi Bekker (= Amphiteos or Nymphys Peri Herakleia II = FGRHist III B, 431 F 1b; cf. Fol 1994, 97-101), where "sabázein" is written "kabázein" (cf. Schol. ad Aristoph. Aves 874 Dűbner), and, secondly, of Macrob. Saturn. 1.18.7 Willis, where in Aeschyl. fr. 86 Mette "Bakkhîos" in 'ho kisséys Apóllon ho Bakkheîos ho mántis" is written "Kabaios." Apollo "kabaios/Kabas Sabos/Sabas" is perfectly equivalent to Sabazios/Kabazios as paredros of the Great Goddess-Mother with her Greek "translation-designation" Artemis. The second component "yle" in Kab-le or "hyle" = "wood," mentioned for Onokarsis, the residence-sanctuary of Kotys (383-359 B.C.), byTheopomp. fr. 31 (= Athen. 12.42, 531E-532A = FGRHist IIIB, 115 F 31). This second components represents locus communis for the "royal cities" in Odrysian Thrace. "Kabyle" could be translated as "Sabazios" sacral wood," which is the conventional term for rock-cut sanctuaries of the Odrysian "orphic" kings.

Phrygian.htmlPhrygian1.html Phrygian1a.htmlPhrygian2.html


1) From "Frigi e Frigio," Monografie Sceintifiche, Serie Scienze Umane e Sociali, Istituto per gli Studie Micenei ed Egeo-Anatolici, Atti del 1º Simposio Internazionale Roma, 16-17 ottobre 1995, A cura di R. Gusmani, M. Salvini, P. Vanicelli, Consiglio Nazionale Delle Ricerche, Roma 1997.
2) For a thorough article on Orpheus see http://www.theosophical.ca/OrpheusP1GRSM.htm.


Etruscan Glossary with Phrygian words:

Send me to Lydian.html

Click here for a spreadsheet of the words, Lydian Glossary.xls or Lydian_Glossary.html

Send me to

 Maravot Home

Launched 5.24.07
Updated: 5.26.07

Copyright © 2007 Maravot. All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2007 Mel Copeland. All rights reserved.
Use of the information on this page for publication in any media is forbidden without the prior written consent of the author.