The Midas touch

Posted: October 4, 2016 in history

Most of us have heard the story of King Midas, granted the “gift” of turning anything he touched to gold, an ability he thought wonderful until his food, drink, and finally his daughter, were turned to gold.  Fortunately, Dionysus (giver of the gift) let Midas off the golden hook.  Washing in a certain river took away this deadly gift.

Although the golden touch is a myth, there was a King Midas in ancient Phrygia, located in today’s Turkey.  In 1957, a Penn University archaeologist and his team discovered an almost 3,000 year old tomb known as the Midas Mound and likely the tomb of Midas’ father.  I recently visited the University of Pennsylvania  Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology’s  exhibit “The Golden Age of King Midas” during the free museum day in Philadelphia.  That meant we were able to get into the museum free (a $15 savings per person) and into the special exhibit for $5/person, a savings of $15/person!  The only thing I regret is that we didn’t go much earlier so we had more time to spend in the museum as a whole.

This is what the mound looked like “back in the day.”  The excavation trench can be clearly seen and the man in the middle is, I believe, Penn University archaeologist Rodney Young.

© janet m. webb 2016

This is a model of what part of the pre-Midas citadel might have looked like before fire destroyed in around 800 BC.

© janet m. webb 2016

Just a few of the goodies found inside the tomb, a discovery as great as that of King Tut’s tomb, albeit not, ironically, so golden.  As some of these exhibits were behind glass, please excuse light reflections.

© janet m. webb 2016

I love this gigantic cauldron and the little men lounging around the edge, although I have to admit that it reminded me of all those men in the swimming pool singing “Viva Viagra.” Anyone remember that ridiculous commercial?

© janet m. webb 2016

© janet m. webb 2016

A delicious link between ancient Phrygia and the modern world.  🙂

© janet m. webb 2016

© janet m. webb 2016

Cheers! Part 2 airs early Sunday morning on the “This, that, and the other thing” station.


  1. Lena says:

    Thanks for sharing this, I had no idea there were a “real” Midas!

  2. we visited the archaeological site of gordion while our howl-i-day, it was great!!!!
    I sometimes feel like King Midas… everything I touch becomes not gold but… brown stuff LOL

  3. This is all new information to me, Janet. Thanks for expanding my knowledge base today. On a related note, the Phrygian cap reminds me of the ones worn by the Seven Dwarves.

    • It does, doesn’t it, Allan? They had a place where you could position yourself so that it appeared you had a similar cap and then have a friend take a photo. I took one of our daughter.


  4. yarnspinnerr says:

    Interesting new information for me. Wonder if it was a special drink for funerals?

  5. Dan Antion says:

    Who knew? And he had a signature beer? Ya gotta love this guy 🙂

    Great photos, I never really thought that there might have really been a Midas

  6. Ha ha! That last pic came as a surprise. Great piece.

  7. What a delightful collection. (It drives me crazy to think what of ancient civilizations are being lost during our lifetime) The bowls and vessels always intrigue me – fun to compare with those of other places and ages.
    Last, bu tnot least, cheers! Now that’s cool

  8. Joanne Sisco says:

    Looking at these kinds of exhibits makes my imagination run wild. I too love that pot with the figurines around the sides. Why put a mere handle on the sides when it can be ramped up to something very artistic?!

  9. prior.. says:

    what a great idea for a new beer brew – to use the recipe -Imight have to try it sometime…
    and never saw the viagara commercial – but sounds fun

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