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BIAA Statement on Media Coverage of Recent Discoveries at Türkmen-Karahöyük

BIAA Statement on Media Coverage of Recent Discoveries at Türkmen-Karahöyük

26th February 2020: Last week, news of the discovery of a lost Iron Age kingdom in central Anatolia appeared on the Chicago University News website and then quickly went viral on social media and online. Since the original article and subsequent reproductions by other media outlets mischaracterised the archaeological data and the role of the scientists involved, we offer this brief corrective note:

The site of Türkmen-Karahöyük in central Turkey was systematically investigated in 2017 and 2018 by the UK-based Konya Regional Archaeological Survey Project (KRASP), co-directed by Michele Massa (British Institute at Ankara) and Christoph Bachhuber (Oxford University). In 2019, KRASP began a collaboration with James Osborne (Oriental Institute, Chicago University) to map the site in more detail with intensive sherd collection and drone photogrammetry, through the Türkmen-Karahöyük Intensive Survey.

The results of the 2019 fieldwork season suggest that the centre may have extended across an extremely large area between the Late Bronze and Middle Iron Ages (ca 1400-600 BCE), likely exceeding 100ha. More excitingly, the recovery of a Hieroglyphic Luwian inscription at the site strongly suggests that Türkmen-Karahöyük may have been the capital of a king called Hartapu. The philological analysis of the text, conducted by Petra Goedegebuure and Theo van den Hout (Oriental Institute), provisionally dates it to the 8th century BCE. In the inscription, Hartapu claims to have conquered Muska, provisionally identified with the Iron Age kingdom of Phrygia. We are entertaining the possibility that Hartapu and Midas may have been contemporary, though there is at present no direct archaeological or textual evidence to support this hypothesis.

For further information, please visit the KRASP website at:

Please also visit the Oriental Institute webpage of TISP at:

For more information, a lecture delivered by Michele Massa and James Osborne on the subject can be viewed here:

Three major articles related to the discoveries at Türkmen-Karahöyük are in press in our journal Anatolian Studies:
  1. Goedegebuure P., van den Hout T., Osborne J., Massa M., Bachhuber C. and F. Şahin (in press). TÜRKMEN-KARAHÖYÜK 1: a new Hieroglyphic Luwian inscription from Great King Hartapu, son of Mursili, conqueror of Phrygia. Anatolian Studies.
  2. Massa M., Bachhuber C., Şahin F., Erpehlivan H., Osborne J. and A.J. Lauricella (in press). A landscape-oriented approach to urbanisation and state formation in the Konya and Karaman Plains, Turkey. Anatolian Studies.
  3. Osborne J., Massa M., Şahin F., Erpehlivan H. and Bachhuber C. (in press). The City of Hartapu: Results of the Türkmen-Karahöyük Intensive Survey Project. Anatolian Studies.

The Konya Regional Archaeological Survey Project operates under the research permit issued by the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism for the years 2017-2019. We would like to thank the Ministry for such permission, and in particular its representatives Muzaffer Saçkesen (for the 2017 and 2019 seasons) and Mustafa Eryaman (for the 2018 season).

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