Lost ancient kingdom uncovered in Turkey after farmer finds stone with strange inscriptions

Rob Waugh
Contributor
The stone was found in an irrigation ditch (Getty)

A mysterious stone with strange inscriptions has led to the discovery of a lost ancient kingdom in Turkey – which may have battled Phrygia, a kingdom once ruled by King Midas. 

The as-yet-unnamed ancient kingdom was found after a farmer discovered a huge stone containing a message from an ancient king in an irrigation ditch. 

Researchers from the University of Chicago were investigating Türkmen-Karahöyük, a large Bronze and Iron Age mounded settlement occupied between about 3,500 and 100 BC.

A local farmer told the researchers he had found a big stone with strange inscriptions while dredging a nearby irrigation canal the previous winter.

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Assistant Professor James Osborne, of the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago, said, “My colleague Michele Massa and I rushed straight there, and we could see it still sticking out of the water, so we jumped right down into the canal up to our waists wading around.”

“Right away it was clear it was ancient, and we recognized the script it was written in: Luwian, the language used in the Bronze and Iron ages in the area.”

Full view of the archaeological mound at Türkmen-Karahöyük (University of Chicago)

The survey team immediately identified a special hieroglyphic marking that symbolised the message came from a king. 

The farmer helped pull the massively heavy stone out of the irrigation canal with a tractor. 

From there it went to the local Turkish museum, where it was cleaned, photographed and readied for translation. 

The inscription boasted of defeating Phrygia, the kingdom ruled by King Midas, famous from the mythical story where he developed a golden touch. 

Prof Osborne says that the city covered 300 acres, making it one of the largest in Bronze and Iron Age Turkey. 

The kingdom is as yet unnamed, but it could reshape the history of the area. 

“We had no idea about this kingdom. In a flash, we had profound new information on the Iron Age Middle East,” he added.

The researchers now hope to investigate the area further, and are planning to complete a survey this summer. 

Prof Osborne said: “Inside this mound are going to be palaces, monuments, houses. This was a marvelous, incredibly lucky find but it’s just the beginning.”