The Lydians and their World (2010)

by İlknur Özgen

Lydian Treasure


The “Lydian Treasure” deserves to be understood as the product of a long cultural and technical development in the history of Anatolia. It comprises a selection of the most elegant and artistic belongings of local dignitaries in an area of the former Lydian kingdom in the second half of the sixth century BC. Under the new rulers of the Mermnad dynasty, beginning with Gyges, the Lydians became masters of western Anatolia. The Lydian kingdom existed for a century and a half, and reached its apogee under the last king, Croesus, who was renowned for his riches, pride, extravagance, and merciful fortunes. At the height of Croesus’s power, in 547/6 BC, his kingdom was conquered by the Persians under their king, Cyrus the Great.2 For more than two centuries thereafter, until Alexander the Great’s conquest in 334 BC, Lydia was a province of the Persian Empire, under the rulers of the Achaemenid dynasty of Persia. The citadel of Sardis became the residence of the satrap of Achaemenian Persia. The artistic and textual sources demonstrate that the 200-year Persian presence in the city had a profound impact on local needs and traditions.3

Our knowledge of “Lydian” art and material culture is derived, to a large extent, from the exploration of cemeteries. Most of the precious Lydian objects come from several Iron Age burial mounds in two regions of western Anatolia: Güre, in the province of Uşak, and Harta (Dönertaş) near Kırkağaç in the province of Manisa. These mounds were extensively looted and plundered during the 1960s; in 1965 the plundering became more organized, and interest was focused on the burial mounds known as tumuli. Many of the objects found in the tombs were recovered from at least five tumuli—four in Uşak/Güre (Top Tepe, İkiztepe, Aktepe I, and Basmacı)4 and one near Harta (Dönertaş)—and their contents were smuggled out of Turkey. A good number of these made their way into the hands of the dealers.5

Many objects from the Treasure were acquired from New York dealers by the Greek and Roman Department of The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York from 1966 through the 1970s. The Turkish Government’s Ministry of Culture knew at the time that the material had been looted and exported illegally. The Metropolitan Museum did not mount a display until 1984. The material was exhibited and published without provenance under the misleading title “East Greek” in the summer issue of the Bulletin of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, under the title “A Greek and Roman Treasury,” by Dietrich von Bothmer.6 In 1993, the objects were returned to Turkey, to their homeland, almost 30 years after they had been illegally looted and dispersed.

It must be remembered that the repatriation of the Lydian Treasure was achieved only after a six-year battle had been waged in the courts of New York, with the Herrick Feinstein law firm acting as the legal representatives of the Turkish Republic.7

After their return to their homeland, the objects were put on display in Ankara’s Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, and later sent up to the Uşak Museum, to their original homeland, to be admired, appreciated, and studied by the present and future generations. Now the treasures, which had been sold for profit and deprived deliberately of their meaning and pedigree, have been repatriated. The objects are “visible to the public as messengers of past cultural and technical glory, but with the message also of the urgent duty of the entire world to respect all cultural heritage with the human and scholarly ‘piety’ it deserves. This piety will inspire scholars and students/people at all levels to strive for historical understanding of predecessors and remote ancestors who lived in the land of Lydia with pride and prosperity.”8

The objects that have been selected for inclusion in this article constitute a small portion of the Treasure, but they represent the range and excellence of the various categories of objects. They are integrated to offer a unified and coherent view of the burial furnishings and contents.

The Tumuli

All these tumuli are located in the region of ancient Lydia, homeland of the Lydians, distinguished by language and cultural traditions. The Lydian tumuli in the Güre area are located in a 5-sq.-km area south of the ancient Hermos River (modern Gediz) and close to the Güre Çayı, some 25 km west of Uşak9 and approximately 100 km east of Sardis, close to the border of West Phrygia (Fig. 1). From the construction of the tombs, furniture, and burial offerings, it can be stated that they belonged to the local aristocracy and were perhaps situated to overlook the owners’ land along the Gediz and Güre Rivers. They remained largely undisturbed until the robberies of 1965.

In total, there are at least nine large tumuli, and there may yet be others which have so far escaped detection. The burials and the setting around them would no doubt repay a thorough investigation and excavation to determine and find the settlements affiliated with tumuli in the area.

The setting of the Güre tumuli is the mature stage of Eastern Lydian culture, continuing in the period after the Persian king Cyrus had defeated his rival Croesus at Sardis, where traces of the conquest/victory of 547 BC are attested.

The Uşak-Güre tumuli are part of an Anatolian burial tradition of the Early Iron Age, namely Phrygian. The tumuli in this region of inland Anatolia were traditionally receptive to outside influences, and the tomb furnishings and contents have combined Anatolian, Greek (Ionian), and Achaemenid cultural features. Certain features of the tombs might be classified as western Anatolian or Lydian “by default,” since in our present state of knowledge, they are unique either to the Uşak-Güre tumuli or to sites of Lydia.

  • Fig. 1

    Map of the Uşak-Güre area, showing location of the tumuli (Image courtesy of İlknur Özgen)

The Treasure

The Lydian Treasure consists of 363 objects that fall into several groups. They can be dated to the second half of the sixth century BC. There are silver and bronze vessels, bowls, ladles; a wealth of exquisitely crafted jewelry; ancient tools (punches and formers) used to make jewelry and figurines; cosmetic “accoutrements”; and incense burners, as well as fragments of wall paintings and marble sphinxes from the kline. The full catalogue of the treasury can be found in the Lydian Treasure publication10, which reflects the inspiration of Machteld Mellink and Crawford Greenewalt. Their contributions could be felt at every stage of the book, as well as of this article.

Toptepe yielded the most splendid, stunning, and exquisite example of the silver vessels included in the Lydian Treasure: an oinochoe with the handle in the form of a youth leaning backwards (Fig. 2; No. 162).11 His arms are bent at the elbow and raised to reach over his head and grasp the tails of two lions that lie back along the rim of the vase, turning their heads towards the viewer as lateral projections placed back to back (Fig. 3). The youth’s feet rest upon two recumbent rams, standing on either side of the figure and corresponding to the lions at the rim. The youth as a handle is fully three-dimensional, and the young male’s body is fully modeled. The head of the figure is decorated with long, plaited, waving hair hanging into the vessel, concealing the join between the separately cast vase and the handle.

Handles with the same composition of a youth, the form of the body, are not uncommon in Greek bronze hydriai and oinochoai, but this is the only known example in silver.12

Around the rim is chased kymation reflecting Greek taste, but the overall exotic appearance is very Oriental. A touch of Persian taste and influence may be seen on animal themes and in their decorations.

The oinochoe is 16.3–17.3 cm high, and the diameter of the body is 9.5 cm. Considering the vessel’s size, its craftsmanship is astonishing. It is a miniature work of art of sculptural quality in the modeling of the figures; the nude youth, the rams, lions, and the palmette of the handle present an imaginative and vigorous orientalizing idiom with Greek taste to control the ornamental syntax and combine with the functional contours of the handle of the vessel. On this vessel, Greek, Lydian, Achaemenian, and Anatolian traditions are felicitously merged.13 The extraordinary preservation of the silver oinochoe allows one to appreciate its perfect design, craftsmanship, and the richness of the details as well. The beauty and the rarity of the object speak for itself.

Another silver oinochoe from the İkiztepe Tumulus with a trefoil mouth is slightly larger and less ornate (No. 163; Fig. 4).14 Its handle is decorated at the ends with two different animal finials. The open-mouthed lion’s head forms the upper terminal, with a spool-shaped projection at either side. His outstretched forelegs terminate in the form of palmette motifs edged with beading (Fig. 5). The lion’s head is in low relief, and the details of his face and mane are meticulously engraved. The lower end of the handle takes the form of the foreparts of a panther, resting its head between the outstretched paws, of which the individual digits are well defined. The vessel was made in three pieces, the body and foot hammered separately, the handle cast, all parts joined by solder.

The figural art visible in the İkiztepe oinochoe handle attachments with the lion and panther are signs of a maturity in craftsmanship and artistry that had developed well beyond the stage of Phrygian art of the Midas period.

As breathtaking as the silver oinochoe are, the deep bowls/phialai comprise an equally compelling aspect of the “Lydian Collection.” Especially noticeable is the use of gold inlay and overlay on a silver phiale from the İkiztepe Tumulus with prominent gold lobes alternating with gold reliefs of the Persian king, with spear and quiver, standing on a ring with double-eagle-heads (No. 167; Figs. 6, 7).15

A deep silver phiale (Fig. 8) is virtually identical in form and decoration to another example (No. 168).16 They were allegedly found in Chamber 2 of the İkiztepe tomb, one on each of the two klinai.

These silver bowls have lobes in the form of eighteen Persian male heads evenly spaced around the upper zone of the bowl (Figs. 9, 10). Each head is identical, with slanting eyes, prominent eye brows, and noses with large nostrils. Well-formed lower lips are rendered with drooping curled-up mustaches. The beards are plain and smooth. The heads are hollow, made separately and fitted into grooves. Some of the heads contain pellets. When the bowl is moved, tiny bronze pellets inside the heads create a rattling sound.

The interaction with the Achaemenid art is demonstrated clearly by the phialai with figures of the Persian king, also from İkiztepe (Uşak 1.30.96). Most of the phialai were intended to be used for the funeral banquets, of which we have representations in Anatolian art. One particular example from the Karaburun Tomb at Elmalı, near Antalya in Northern Lycia (470 BC), has to be mentioned. The wall painting shows a Lycian, Persian, or Assyrian dignitary, reclining on a couch in a banquet scene and holding a phiale on the fingertips of his hand (Fig. 11).17 It offers a vivid illustration of the funerary ritual celebrated with silver phialai at İkiztepe and Toptepe, and may be referred to for comparative analysis.18

The large number of phialai at İkiztepe suggests that we look at the symbolic setting for a well-attended symposium, the objects for which accompanied the tomb owner in afterlife. They have deep or shallow bodies and are sometimes decorated with horizontal and vertical fluting or with protruding lobes that are often tear shaped. Their bases are articulated, sometimes flat and sometimes with an omphalos. These deep bowls with everted rims are well defined in the Lydian collection. Virtually identical examples with nine lobes alternating with nine stylized lotuses appear in Uşak 1.34.96, Uşak 1.35.96, and Uşak 1.36.96 (Figs. 12, 13).19 On the underside of the omphaloi are centering marks and lightly engraved monograms or graffiti, perhaps abbreviations of the personal name of the donor of the vessel.20

The use of graffiti by participants in the ceremonial symposium is also attested at İkiztepe. In a silver phiale with a multiple-tongue pattern21 (No. 169), radiating from an engraved circle around the omphalos are 87 lightly chased tongues, defined around the top by scalloping (Fig. 14). On the inside of the bowl, 38 tongues are chased on the floor around the omphalos. It has the name ΑΛΙΚ– and a monogram incised near the dimple on the base, a name probably Lydian by comparative evidence (Fig. 15).

Two spouted silver saucers from İkiztepe are also noticeable for their graffiti. One saucer22 (Uşak 1.47.96) has Κ Λ incised twice on the outside, near the handle (Fig. 16). Such brief graffiti can be considered abbreviations for personal names, engraved to emphasize the personal relationship of the owner-donor with the person buried with the vessel, and some of these marks were probably put on at the time of the symposium ceremony preceding the actual burial. The other, more elegant small silver dish, with a strainer-spout and a handle with swan’s-head attachments, is more elaborately engraved on its base with an inscription of several words, starting with the name Milas or Midas (No. 172, Figs. 17, 18). Many pottery and bronze examples have been recovered at Gordion, and the side-spouted sieve dish has been identified as a drinking cup for beer, because the spout suits a reference of Archilochus cited by Athenaeus to beer-drinking by Phrygians.23

An inscribed shallow bowl24 (No. 170) provides personal identification of some participants, messages deliberately sent into eternity by their signers. The word MATTVA, written retrograde, may be Lydian or Greek. According to R. Gusmani, it is a place name, and the place itself is likely to be located in East Lydia (Figs. 19, 20).

Another interesting piece represented among the items in the treasure is the jasper plate from İkiztepe (No. 171, Fig. 21). The plate has a profiled horizontal rim, a carinated body, and a flat bottom. The vivid color of the jasper is grayish cream, with veins and smears of rust red and smears of yellow brown. The sources of these stones are uncertain, but jasper may be from the workshop found at Sardis25. The many fragments of jasper working chips from Sardis come from a Lydian context of the first half of the sixth century BC. Jasper could also have been an Achaemenid introduction to Lydia. Bowls of similar form and material have been recovered from the palace Treasury at the Persian capital at Persepolis. Polished stone vessels/bowls and plates were also popular, and a great variety of inscribed and uninscribed examples were found in the Treasury at Persepolis. The stone vessels of rock crystal, jasper, serpentine, basalt, granite, and limestone may represent booty.26 Chalcedony of the same colors has been recovered at Sardis in occupation contexts of the sixth century BC.27 The jasper bowl comprises an equally compelling aspect of the Lydian Treasure. The range and function of Lydian tableware brings to mind the question of what was actually being served. Typological classifications and their beauty do not tell us what may have been served within them. Some authentic flavors may have been written in ancient sources (see Greenewalt, “Bon Appetit!”).

Also included among the treasure were several silver ladles and strainers.28 Among the eight silver ladles, no two are alike. All of them are sumptuous. The ladle with a shallow bowl29 (Uşak 1.28.96) rises in a fluted stem of octagonal section, which is capped at the upper end with a quatrefoil lotus above a grooved collar (Fig. 22). The ring handle is cast in the form of two lions, with extended front paws touching, heads turned back, and mouths open. The abstract rendering of the lions can be compared to the lion protomes of the kidney-shaped bracelets.30

The finds from the İkiztepe Tumulus do not include large containers of the kind with which one might expect ladles to be associated. The use of ladles by royal cupbearers to taste wine before offering it to the king is reported by Xenophon (Cyropedia I. 3.9).

The ladle from the Toptepe Tumulus31 (Uşak 1.81.96) also has a loop that terminates at each end with an animal whose foreparts are in the round and hindquarters in relief (Fig. 23). The figural decoration of the ladle demonstrates superb craftsmanship. The handle terminates in animal heads, and at the base of the ladle two winged sphinxes rest along the rim of the shallow bowl. Rising from the shallow bowl is a faceted stem, its lower terminal in the form of a winged hybrid creature with a lion’s foreparts.

The rich figural decoration and unusual handle stem make this by far the most ornate of the ladles from the Güre tumuli and all other known examples. The two seated/winged sphinxes are of special interest because of the comparison that can be drawn to the large marble sculptured sphinxes as couch/kline supports that were also part of the Lydian Treasure Collection from the Harta Tumulus. The question regarding the importance of the sphinx in Lydian culture is raised by the appearance of a similar motif in two different media. The facial features and faint smiles of the sphinxes should be recognized as a hallmark of Lydian and Late Archaic Greek art, too.

It is evident that elegant drinking/banquet customs were observed in Lydian life and death ritual. Some special strainer vessels directly connected with food and drink are of recognizable nature.

One silver strainer (No. 166), with a total length of 25 cm, has a hemispherical bowl and a broad concave rim (Fig. 24).32 The bowl of the strainer is hammered, while the handle is cast. Riveted to the outside of the bowl is a palmette decoration with details chased and engraved. The handle of the strainer terminates in a duck’s head (Fig. 25). Duck-head patterns are features of an elegant ornamental detail of the tableware of the Lydians and are prominent patterns among the tomb gifts.

Incense burners were included among the objects of the Treasure, and one was fashioned in bronze. Incense burners provide a festive aura for the banquet.33

A bronze, hand-held incense burner is also ingeniously put together (No. 173, Fig. 26).34 All parts of the burner are cast. The conical cover of the incense burner is composed of five tiers: the lowest slips over the rim of the cup with carrying handle, while the two uppermost tiers are pierced by arrow-shaped holes to allow the smoke from the incense to escape. A figure of a calf rests its hooves on the corner of the burner, its head is turned to face back (Figs. 27, 28).35 The handle of the incense burner ends, in typical Lydian style, in a duck head with broad and long beak and well-articulated facial details.36

The conical-shaped cover with arrow-shaped holes is also seen in two silver versions of the pedestalled type from the İkiztepe Tumulus.37 The forms of the incense burners are very similar, but there are some differences in the decoration of pedestal and cover (Fig. 29). On the top of the cover is riveted a convex floral disc, with a cast figure of a cock in the center. Featuring a cock on the top of incense burners is known from Egyptian, Punic, and Etruscan sources.38

The silver incense burner (Uşak 1.55.96) from İkiztepe39 has a Lydian inscription on the base, perhaps indicating the name of the owner.40

The elegance of these incense burners is probably the product of Lydian craftsmen, whose works would have been in demand also in Persian lands. The stepped lids of the incense burners are probably an Achaemenid Persian feature, matched in relief sculptural representations at Persepolis, in the Treasury scene of Darius I and Xerxes (Fig. 30).41

The jewelry of the Treasure is remarkable for its preservation, the variety of materials, and the quality of the design and craftsmanship (Fig. 31). Although a wide variety of types and designs are included, the various bracelets, earrings, rings, necklaces, and beads are related stylistically by certain recurring motifs common to Lydian and Persian art, such as animal head finials, acorns and rosettes. The unity of artistic vision of the Lydian craftsman emphasizes the cosmopolitan and universal inspiration of the region and the period (see Meriçboyu, “Lydian Jewelry”).

A necklace with acorn pendants42 (No. 175) from the Toptepe Tumulus is composed of twenty floral beads and eighteen plain beads with acorn pendants (Fig. 32). Each floral bead is decorated with two six-petal rosettes. The petals are segmented, and the quadrangular spaces between petals contain smaller rosettes, each with four hatched petals. Of the surviving fifteen acorn nuts, ten are gold, three are opaque red glass, and two are blue glass. The remaining three caps are broken and have no nuts, but two of these caps contain a green glass substance that is the filling of the gold nuts.

Acorns were common motifs in jewelry of the ancient world. There are well-known sixth and fifth century examples from the Greek and Anatolian worlds. Gold acorn pendants were found at Gordion in Cremation Burial A, dating to the third quarter of the sixth century BC.43 Silver acorn pendants were recovered from the Tumulus B-4, at Bayındır in Elmalı/Antalya, in northern Lycia. An ivory girl figure holding the hand of a female statuette from Tumulus D at Bayındır, probably from the seventh century, is believed to be depicted wearing an acorn necklace (Fig. 33).44 A similar necklace can be seen on a kore from Sardis.45

Glass acorns are not common; one example came from the Mausoleum at Halikarnassos, dated to the fourth century BC.46

The jewelry of the Lydian Collection is mostly made of gold or electrum. There is very little silver, used only for one acorn pendant (Uşak 1.120.96), two animal figures (Uşak 1.135.96 and Uşak 1.136.96), two silver earrings/disks (Uşak 1.164.96 and 1.165.96), and two bracelets (Uşak 1.14.70 and 1.15.70).47

Another pendant48 (Uşak 1.67.96), from an unworked natural gold nugget on a looped suspension wire, is very unusual (Fig. 34). The examination of the nugget pendant under the microscope revealed that it had no inclusions. Analysis will be necessary to determine the composition of the nugget. This is primary gold/electrum, but it would be interesting to see the silver content to enable a comparison with the gold dust from the Pactolus River at Sardis. There are other places and sources of placer gold in the vicinity (Boz Dağı Mountains), although whether these were exploited in antiquity is unknown.

The nugget is almost rectangular in shape and has been perforated slightly off-center to accommodate the gold wire. A similar method of suspension is used for agate (No. 178), deep-purple argillite (1.69.96), and pyramidal stamp-seal pendants (No. 177) in the collection (Figs. 3536).49

The two spool-shaped rattles from the Toptepe tomb are almost identical50 (No. 174). Each is formed from two disc-shaped end pieces. One has seventeen concentric rings on the die-formed faces, the other fifteen (Fig. 37). The damaged edges of the rattles must have been a result of an attempt by the robbers to open them. Such rattles were probably attached in pairs to a rod and used as a kind of sistrum.51

Animal-head finials are used on several of the bracelets.52 A pair of bracelets that cannot be assigned to any specific tumulus or tomb is affiliated with the Lydian Treasure (Fig. 38). They were sold to the Metropolitan Museum at the same time as the objects of known provenance. They may have come from tombs of the same caliber in the vicinity of Güre, of which we have no knowledge. This pair of “kidney-shaped” bracelets with lion protome terminals53 (Uşak 1.107.96 and Uşak 1.108.96) is characteristically Achaemenid in spirit. Similar bracelets are represented in stone and glaze-tile relief sculptures from Persepolis and Susa. Actual jewelry examples from Susa and the Oxus Treasure also exist. Such bracelets are worn by the dignitary in the Karaburun Tomb near Elmalı.54

Appliqués, or bracteates, thin gold plaques perforated at the four corners with holes for attachment, are common in sumptuary arts of the ancient world (Fig. 39). An assemblage of thirty-eight square appliqués55 (Uşak 1.92.96) has embossed star-like floral motifs formed from four tear-shaped rays, which are oriented to the corners from a raised central circle. The star-like motif is common in Greek art and in the architectural terracottas of Sardis and Gordion.56 The motif also occurs on a square gold plaque from Ephesus (Nos. 141, 142). They were sewn to garments, shrouds, headgears, and equipments of textile and leather. The use of gold appliqués on costume during the Achaemenid period is well documented in classical texts and from the archaeological evidence. Appliqués of Achaemenid type have been recovered at Sardis, from five graves at the city cemetery, and one at Bin Tepe (No. 133). As Elspeth Dusinberre pointed out, the appliqués are an emphatic link to the central imagery of the empire and art created for the court.57 À jour rosette appliqués have been recovered at two cremation burials at Gordion. It seems that the Scythians also adopted the custom of gold appliqués sown on garments during their incursions into the Near East during the seventh century BC. Appliqués are also depicted in representational art. Tunics with richly decorated motifs appear on an Urartian gold medallion from Toprakkale, dated to 600 BC, showing two figures wearing garments with decorated appliqués (Fig. 40). Richly decorated appliqués also appear on royal figures in Assyrian reliefs from the ninth to the seventh century BC58, and on the polychrome glaze brick. An example from Susa depicts a guard equipped with a bow, quiver, and spear, and wearing a dress decorated with star-like floral motifs (Fig. 41).59 An ivory female figurine from Ephesus holding a spindle wears a tunic decorated with a checker pattern framed by leather belts, which form squares as if the garment of the figure is decorated with appliqués.60

If we move our focus from the silver tableware and burial gifts to another aspect of the tombs, we find that wall paintings from the Aktepe and Harta Tumuli contribute to our understanding of the funerary rites and beliefs of the Lydians. The role of the wall paintings in expressing and strengthening the ideals of afterlife also are an essential part of the collection of the Lydian Treasure.

The recorded evidence for the wall paintings from two looted tumuli, Harta and Aktepe, confirms the nature of these privileged burials and provides another instance of vandalism destroying Lydian wall painting.

The tomb chamber and the antechamber of the Harta Tumulus near Kırkağaç, in the Upper Caicus River valley, dated to the late sixth or early fifth century, was decorated with a frieze of bands in the middle of the walls, on the upper wall surfaces. Both the porch and the chamber were decorated with a frieze of bands with different colors consisting of a patterned dado, with a figural frieze above. An Ionic cymation consisting of an egg-and-dart frieze is placed above a bead-and-reel decoration. Above this band, various scenes are placed. The identification and the interpretation of these paintings suffer from a long history of looting, like the wall paintings from the Aktepe Tumulus.

At Harta, gift-bearers appear to have been brought by a procession of figures compositionally reminiscent of the tribute bearers on the Apadana reliefs at Persepolis.

Virtually nothing of the frieze now remains. It showed a procession of figures and one or two wheeled vehicles. Apparently the couch and wall paintings were still intact in March 1965 when Manisa Museum officials and other authorities visited the tomb. In an unpublished report submitted to the Department of Excavations and Museums on March 8, 1965, K.Z. Polatkan described the paintings as “in convoy fashion, a funeral and war chariot and servants advanc[ing] in very orderly file, one behind the other....Particularly noteworthy is the beauty of the female and black-bearded male figures.”

The information available does not permit a secure attribution of any of the three surviving mural fragments to any specific location in the porch of chamber.61 The paintings show the two men facing right (Figs. 42, 43), most probably as part of a funerary procession. At least three attendants were painted on the left wall of the Harta tomb, perhaps in the porch. Both figures are painted on a good white ground. Both men have black hair, and one has a pointed short beard (Fig. 42, Uşak 1.3.96). Both men wear tunics (one red, one blue) with simple round neckline, over which is a mantle.

One other figure (Fig. 44, Uşak 1.5.96) is a servant wearing a white head cover and Persian attire. This is a male figure, walking to the right and overlapping the knotted tail of a white horse moving in the same direction. Knotting the tails of horses was an Achaemenid practice, illustrated, for instance, in Building G at Xanthos (BM 313) and in the wall paintings at Karaburun.62 Achaemenid iconography and ideas must have been accepted by locals, and fused with local themes of funerary processions in the Harta Tumulus.63

The Aktepe Tumulus was emptied of its portable contents by looters, but its wall paintings give a vivid illustration of the ritual beliefs and funeral rites.64 The beautifully constructed tomb chamber of Aktepe was decorated with painted figures, who formed an integral part of the burial complexes as a symbolic place of afterlife in the beliefs and ritual needs of the Lydians. Standing figures were painted directly on the smoothed surface of the limestone blocks.

On the side walls of the tomb chamber, at least three figures were painted (Figs. 45, 46, 47, 48), each holding branches and facing towards the kline and towards the deceased who once lay upon it. Their gender and what they held are difficult to determine. The figure on the left (Fig. 46, Uşak 1.10.96) holds either a flower bud or an unguent container. The other standing female figure facing left (Fig. 45, Uşak 1.9.96), which was cut out of the right wall of the tomb, has her face details redrawn and repainted by the looters. The branches may represent gifts for the deceased, like the flower bud and bird/rooster of the Gökçeler Relief, No. 12.65

The style of the Aktepe paintings, even in poorly preserved and damaged condition, gives us a view of the Lydian adaptation of figural art shared by Anatolians and Ionians. Regalia such as costume, hairstyles and equipment do not allow a stricter separation of “Greek” and “Lydian-Anatolian” costume, with clear indications of Anatolian originality.66

As a whole, these tombs and the objects they contained reflect a combination of traditions. Some are Achaemenid in style, or exhibit Achaemenid influence. Indigenous Anatolian traits are also evident, with comparisons to metal objects of an earlier date from Gordion and other Phrygian sites and cemeteries, as well as from Sardis. The cultural identity of many items is ambiguous; “Lydian or Greek” may be asked but not necessarily answered. Some characteristics may have been adopted from outside and naturalized in Lydia. There may have been local workshops associated with post-Croesus Lydia, which were partly responsible for establishing terms and styles that reflect Persian taste, style, and iconography. But it must be remembered that long before the Achaemenid period, eastern elements had entered the western Anatolian repertoire to be manifested in the “orientalizing” style. One must be cautious of attributing all elements that appear in the artwork as post-Croesus period in Anatolia to direct Achaemenid influence. Animal terminals, for instance, were also favored by the Phrygians.67

All the funerary equipment has its ancestry in the Phrygian tradition, but nearly all of it is now in precious metal—silver of excellent quality. The shapes have been refined and enriched with ornamental detail, often betraying Persian traits and motifs, providing historical reference to the period under Persian domination.

The general aspect of the prominent tomb gifts and the funerary symbolism (and festivities) of elegant drinking banquets reappears in the inventory of the tombs in the Güre and Manisa regions, to judge by the contents now reassembled in the holdings of the Manisa, Uşak, and Ankara Museums and the repatriated lot from the Metropolitan Museum in New York. The ample number of phialai attributed to the İkiztepe burial chambers is indicative of the survival of the symposium rite in Lydian life and death ritual, as are the ladles and the especially elegant oinochoai, even if the attendance at the burial ritual was far smaller than that of the Phrygian king at Gordion.68

The large array of objects represented in the Treasure also reflects some uncommon features. The contents of these burials have given us insight and respect for Lydian workmanship and expertise in their minor arts.

As we try to assemble the facts we can establish about the Lydian Treasure, there are categories of uneven documentation that call for study/attention.

The illicit, unrecorded, and plundered excavations of ancient sites and burials, and the destruction of their archaeological record, constitute an unmitigated and continuing catastrophe for the world’s, and Turkey’s, archaeological heritage.69 Its consequences are most acutely felt in the plundering of tumuli and their contents (see Luke, “Heritage Preservation in Central Lydia”). “What is to be done?” is the question asked recently. Professor Colin Renfrew, in his book Loot, Legitimacy and Ownership, reviews the illicit antiquity trade. The Lydian Treasure, returned to Turkey, plays an important part in his discussion. Renfrew argues that there are two approaches to the problem. One is to eliminate the “clandestine” excavations in the countries of origin. According to him, the task will only succeed when each nation imposes effective laws administered by sound and well-informed antiquities departments, with high-level educated employees whose ethical backgrounds are strong. Museum displays should be designed to convey responsibility and appreciation of their cultural heritage to those who must oversee the trust of their heritage and share it with the world.70

It is regrettable that this desirable infrastructure is lacking in Turkey. One of the responsibilities and goals of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism is to provide it. The role of the national and international academic community becomes important in providing support for such matters. The disappearance of the Lydian Treasure’s hippocamp underscores the fragilities of current heritage management structures.71

  • Fig. 2

    Trefoil silver oinochoe, general view (No. 162) (Courtesy of the Vedat Nedim Tör Museum, Istanbul)

  • Fig. 3

    Trefoil silver oinochoe, detail (No. 162) (Courtesy of the Vedat Nedim Tör Museum, Istanbul)

  • Fig. 4

    Trefoil silver oinochoe, general view (No. 163) (Courtesy of the Vedat Nedim Tör Museum, Istanbul)

  • Fig. 5

    Trefoil silver oinochoe, detail (No. 163) (Courtesy of the Vedat Nedim Tör Museum, Istanbul)

  • Fig. 6

    Silver phiale (No. 167) (Courtesy of the Vedat Nedim Tör Museum, Istanbul)

  • Fig. 7

    Silver phiale, detail (No. 167). (Courtesy of the Vedat Nedim Tör Museum, Istanbul)

  • Fig. 8

    Deep silver phiale, general view (No. 168) (Courtesy of the Vedat Nedim Tör Museum, Istanbul)

  • Fig. 9

    Deep silver phiale, view from the bottom (No. 168) (Courtesy of the Vedat Nedim Tör Museum, Istanbul)

  • Fig. 10

    Deep silver phiale, detail (No. 168) (Courtesy of the Vedat Nedim Tör Museum, Istanbul)

  • Fig. 11

    Wall painting depicting a Lycian, Persian, or Assyrian dignitary holding a phiale, from Karaburun near Antalya (Image courtesy of İlknur Özgen)

  • Fig. 12

    Silver phiale (Image courtesy of İlknur Özgen)

  • Fig. 13

    Silver phiale (Courtesy of the Vedat Nedim Tör Museum, Istanbul)

  • Fig. 14

    Silver phiale (No. 169) (Courtesy of the Vedat Nedim Tör Museum, Istanbul)

  • Fig. 15

    Silver phiale (No. 169), detail of inscription (Courtesy of the Vedat Nedim Tör Museum, Istanbul)

  • Fig. 16

    Silver spouted dish with single handle (Courtesy of the Vedat Nedim Tör Museum, Istanbul)

  • Fig. 17

    Silver side-spouted dish with single handle (No. 172) (Courtesy of the Vedat Nedim Tör Museum, Istanbul)

  • Fig. 18

    Silver side-spouted dish with single handle (No. 172), details (Courtesy of the Vedat Nedim Tör Museum, Istanbul)

  • Fig. 19

    Silver shallow bowl (No. 170) (Courtesy of the Vedat Nedim Tör Museum, Istanbul)

  • Fig. 20

    Silver shallow bowl (No. 170), detail of inscription (Courtesy of the Vedat Nedim Tör Museum, Istanbul)

  • Fig. 21

    Jasper plate (No. 171) (Courtesy of the Vedat Nedim Tör Museum, Istanbul)

  • Fig. 22

    Silver ladle (Courtesy of the Vedat Nedim Tör Museum, Istanbul)

  • Fig. 23

    Silver ladle (Image courtesy of İlknur Özgen)

  • Fig. 24

    Silver strainer, general view (No. 166) (Courtesy of the Vedat Nedim Tör Museum, Istanbul)

  • Fig. 25

    Silver strainer, detail (No. 166) (Courtesy of the Vedat Nedim Tör Museum, Istanbul)

  • Fig. 26

    Hand-held bronze incense burner, general view (No. 173) (Courtesy of the Vedat Nedim Tör Museum, Istanbul)

  • Fig. 27

    Hand-held bronze incense burner, detail (No. 173) (Courtesy of the Vedat Nedim Tör Museum, Istanbul)

  • Fig. 28

    Hand-held bronze incense burner, detail (No. 173) (Courtesy of the Vedat Nedim Tör Museum, Istanbul)

  • Fig. 29

    Silver incense burner (Courtesy of the Vedat Nedim Tör Museum, Istanbul)

  • Fig. 30

    Darius enthroned, from Persepolis, c. 500 BC (Image courtesy of İlknur Özgen)

  • Fig. 31

    Examples of jewellery from the Lydian Treasure (Image courtesy of İlknur Özgen)

  • Fig. 32

    Gold and glass necklace with acorn pendants (No. 175) (Courtesy of the Vedat Nedim Tör Museum, Istanbul)

  • Fig. 33

    Ivory figurine of a woman with two children, Bayındır Tumulus D, 7th C. BC, detail showing the acorn pendant worn by the girl (Image courtesy of İlknur Özgen)

  • Fig. 34

    Electrum nugget pendant (Courtesy of the Vedat Nedim Tör Museum, Istanbul)

  • Fig. 35

    Agate and gold pendant (No. 178) (Courtesy of the Vedat Nedim Tör Museum, Istanbul)

  • Fig. 36

    Gold and agate pyramidal stamp seal pendant (No. 177) (Courtesy of the Vedat Nedim Tör Museum, Istanbul)

  • Fig. 37

    Pair of gold rattles (No. 174) (Courtesy of the Vedat Nedim Tör Museum, Istanbul)

  • Fig. 38

    Pair of bracelets with lion-protome terminals (Image courtesy of İlknur Özgen)

  • Fig. 39

    Examples of appliqués (Image courtesy of İlknur Özgen)

  • Fig. 40

    Urartian gold medallion from Toprakkale, ca. 600 BC (Image courtesy of İlknur Özgen)

  • Fig. 41

    Glazed bricks depicting a guardian, from Susa (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)

  • Fig. 42

    Wall painting of a male figure (Courtesy of the Vedat Nedim Tör Museum, Istanbul)

  • Fig. 43

    Wall painting of a male figure (Courtesy of the Vedat Nedim Tör Museum, Istanbul)

  • Fig. 44

    Wall painting of a male figure (Image courtesy of İlknur Özgen)

  • Fig. 45

    Wall painting of the head of a female figure (Courtesy of the Vedat Nedim Tör Museum, Istanbul)

  • Fig. 46

    Wall painting of a male figure (Image courtesy of İlknur Özgen)

  • Fig. 47

    Wall painting of a branch and the superimposed computer-generated reconstruction (Image courtesy of İlknur Özgen)

  • Fig. 48

    Wall painting of a branch and the superimposed computer-generated reconstruction (Image courtesy of İlknur Özgen)