Daskyleion Inscriptions Reveal Phrygian and Lydian Populations

This inscription from Daskyleion reads ‘Wana,’ the Phrygian word for ‘king’. Photo: Leiden University

Daskyleion, a first-millennium B.C.E. site in northwestern Turkey, may have been more cosmopolitan than previously believed. The site’s long history is known from decades of excavation, as well as texts by Strabo and other classical authors, and while early accounts of the population may be rooted in mythology, Daskyleion is thought to have been a Lydian city during the first half of the first millennium B.C.E. Herodotus famously records how the rich Lydian king Croesus was defeated by the Persians in the sixth century B.C.E, and Daskyleion was converted into a regional Achaemenid capital.

Linguists from Leiden University (Netherlands) recently analyzed pottery from the Persian occupation at Daskyleion dating between the sixth and third centuries B.C.E. to reveal a multi-ethnic presence at the site. Phrygian and Lydian each have their own alphabets, and pottery inscribed with their letters and mentions of Olympian gods reveal a previously unknown cosmopolitanism at this Persian capital. Lydia, whose language is closely associated with Hittite, is known as the first state to mint coinage, and Phrygia is best remembered for its mythological kings Gordias and Midas.

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