The main goddess of Phrygian religion, Cybele.
Ancient country in Asia Minor, corresponding to modern Turkey which formed a number of independent kingdoms between 1200 and 700 BCE. The kingdoms formed a loose confederation, where the main centres were Mides City (western Anatolia) and Gordium (central Anatolia). The land of Phrygia was mountainous.
The boundaries of the Phrygia varied through the centuries. Its greatest extent was around 1000 BCE, when it covered approximately all of Anatolia.
According to the most popular theory, the Phrygians were immigrants from Thrace in Europe (Bulgaria). After the fall of the Phrygian kingdoms, the people stayed in Anatolia, and would become part of the later Ottoman Empire and modern Turkey.
Later mythic kings of Phrygia were alternately named Gordias and Midas. Gordum was the Phrygian word for city.
Homer tells that the Phrygians were at one time attacked by the Amazons (an exclusive women-only society).
The name Phrygia would continue even after the fall of the kingdoms.
As with all other powers of the time, agriculture was the central activity in the Phrygian economy. It is assumed that Phrygia was feudal, but in addition large lands were owned by cult centres and the high priests.
Sheep rearing was an important activity, producing wool of fine quality. Horse rearing was important for governing the large lands, allowing officials to move over large distances quickly.
Among the industries, the Phrygians produced metalwork, wood carving and carpet weaving. It is also said that they developed the art of embroidery.
The Phrygians benefited from the Hittite culture, and adopted many of their social structures and customs.
The cultural centres were the cities of Midas City and Gordium. Many of the inhabitants here knew how to read and write.
For the Phrygians, music appears to have been central. King Midas is told to have been taugth in music by Orpheus (from Greek legends). It is assumed that the warlike mode in Greek music was adopted from Phrygian music.
Phrygian language belonged to the Indo-European family, which survived no longer than until the 6th century CE.
It was probably close to Greek; early scholarship suggested close relation to Thracian, Armenian or Illyrian. In most cases Phrygian language used an alphabet originating with the Phoenicians. The available inscriptions in the Phrygian language have not yet been translated. Inscriptions which used a script close to the Greek, have been translated, and some of the Phrygian vocabulary identified.
Old Phrygian texts date mainly to ca. 730-450 BCE, consisting of 80 remain, most from Gordium. New Phrygian texts date from 1st and 2nd centuries CE.
The Phrygian alphabet has been suggested to draw upon North Syrian, Cilician and/or Greek origins.
The Phrygian religion was based around nature worship. Cybele, the Great Mother and the male god Sabazius were the central deities. Her principal cultic centre was at Pessinus.
Cybele would later be adopted into Greek and Roman religions. In her Phrygian version she is in a human shape and wears a long belted dress, a high cylindrical headdress and a veil covering the whole body.
Sabazios was the sky and father god, and would be depicted also in human shape and riding on a horse. The Greeks would associate Sabazios with Zeus.
In Roman religion we learn that there was a conflict between the two main deities, and this might well have applied to the Phrygian myths as well. Cybele had created the Lunar Bull which Sabazios had to fight together with his horse.
1200 BCE: The Phrygians invade Anatolia from Thrace, and thanks to the collapse of the Hittite kingdom, they are able to take control over all the central tableland.
730: Assyrians take control over the eastern parts of Phrygia.
Around 725-696: The time of King Midas, the king which the legends tell had the ability to turn everything he touched into gold (see more under Sardis).
7th century: Cimmerian invasion into the Phrygian lands, destroying many of the small kingdoms.
676: The Cimmerians conquer and destroy Gordium. By this, the Lydians could take control over much of the old Phrygian territories.