Keith R. DeVries, 69, Authority on Ancient City of King Midas, Dies

Historians in the News

Keith R. DeVries, an archaeologist and authority on the excavation of Gordion, the ancient Turkish city once ruled by King Midas of the golden touch, died on July 16 in Philadelphia. He was 69.

The cause was cancer, his family said.

From 1977 to 1987, Dr. DeVries directed the University of Pennsylvania’s dig at Gordion, where members of the staff of the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology at the university have been at work since the 1950’s. Gordion is about 55 miles southwest of Ankara.

Dr. DeVries was an expert in Greek pottery and trade ware of the first millennium B.C. and was interested in the relationship between Greece and Anatolia in the Iron Age.

In recent work, he and others used pottery and artifacts to redate an early catastrophe in Gordion, which was believed to have been destroyed in Midas’s time, about 700 B.C. By coordinating stylistic studies of pottery with radiocarbon dating of seeds found in the same ground layers, the archaeologists concluded that the destruction probably took place between 800 B.C. and 825 B.C., or a full century before Midas, after which the city was rebuilt.

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