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The Lydian Treasure

Toptepe Tomb

Toptepe, plundered in 1965, yielded a glimpse of the burial on its stone kline, with rich jewellew on the body; the bones of which had turned to powder. The presence of a large number of stone alabastra confirms the essential provision of perfumed oil to Lydian burials. The remnants of the symposium equipment are few but sumptuous.Toptepe yielded the most splendid oinochoe of the series, a miniature work of art of sculptural quality in the modelling of the naked youth, the rams, lions and palmette of the handle. Here Greek, Lydian and Anatolian traditions are felicitously merged. The figural decoration of the ladle is in the same imaginative and vigorous orientalizing idiom, with great control of the ornamental syntax combining winged hybrids with the functional contours of ladle and handle. There seems to be a trace of disciplined animal style in this object, in line with developing Achaemenid fashion. No accompanying phialai have been identified as belonging to Toptepe, but three plain silver omphalos bowls are mentioned. The setting of the drinking ritual in this tomb may have been restricted to one or two participants.

The jewellery in the Toptepe tomb is of the same distinguished calibre as the silverware. The gold hippocamp brooch shows another triumph of local miniature sculpture, this time from the jeweller's workshop. The blue glass bracelets with lion-head terminals are the polychrome variant of a type of bracelet known in Assyria, Phrygia, Lydia and Persia, and the acorn necidace, as with the hippocamp brooch, livens the gold up with polychrome glass inserts.

It is difficult to determine the gender of the person buried in the Toptepe tumulus, but the inventory with its abundant jewellery and the gold appliques of the presumed costume, as well as the scarcity of symbolic participants, would suggest the burial of a female of high rank. On the other hand, the companionship of multiple symposiasts may not have lasted long in the Persian phases of Lydian culture.


This site prepared by Tayfun Kalyoncu on 28.02.1997 and last updated on 01.05.1999.
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