Gordion, and the post-Alexandrian collapse of Phrygian society in the Anatolian steppe

Gordion, and the post-Alexandrian collapse of Phrygian society in the Anatolian steppe

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Samitte

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TL/DR: Gordion was just a walled village at game start with a small population, not a city, inhabited by Phrygians not Macedonians.

The site where Alexander supposedly cut the mythical Gordian Knot and heralded the conquest of all of Asia, Gordion, went through a massive decline following the conquest of Alexander. Prior to this, it was the most important city on the Anatolian steppe and a major trade and adminstrative hub. Through Gordion, enormous amounts of sheeps and goats were moved throughout the Achaemenid Empire via the Royal Road, which were tended to by the many pastoralist communities on the steppe. However, the city was likely already in a slow decline before Alexander even arrived, and his conquest just rapidly sped up the process.

The period after Alexander's conquest saw an immediate breakdown of imperial infrastructure and administration, and where other cities were incorporated back into the new administrative system, Gordion collapsed together with its economical and political power. Trade started to flow along the Sangarios river instead of the Royal Road, and it lost its position as the centre for animal husbandry within the empire and access to the massive markets to its east and west.

Early Hellenistic Gordion (Pre-Galatian) shows an entirely different view. Imports from the east of the former Achaemenid empire cease almost immediately, and the city turns to trading along the Sangarios with the Hellenes and Hellenising peoples to its north. The city also started to produce imitations of Attic style pottery in those first few decades, represented in the trade good, of which the import has stopped as well (which would have come in via the Royal Road from the west, in numbers over 10 times larger then at Sardis). However the city shows no evidence of Macedonian settlement, and rapidly declines to become nothing more then a fortified village.

Monumental architecture stops almost overnight, and no changes are seen to the pre-Hellenistic religious behaviour. (The Hellenised depictions of Matar (Kybele) were from the late Achaemenid period. No more do we find the elaborate seals used by Achaemenid officials, instead we find simple ones used to stamp bread or pottery. The population rapidly declined, to the point where we can even see this in the land use in the surrounding area where the amount of sheeps and goats drops to about a third of what it was during the Achaemenid period, and subsistence farming becomes the norm around the former city itself. With minor industrial activity regarding pottery production.

Pre-Hellenistic Gordion consisted of three elements, th Citadel, Lower, and Outer town. During the period before the Galatians arrive, the Outer town is quickly abandoned, as is the Lower town which becomes used as a cemetary early on. On the Citadel, the monumental architecture becomes reaused as cheap construction material, and the site becomes filled with small, unevenly spaced houses. Gordion was reduced to a walled village. While some Hellenisation did occur, the population itself seems to have remained Phrygian, with no visible change in Phrygian culinary traditions.

Thus, the Anatolian steppe became the territory of mostly pastoralists and some subsistence farming, until the arrival of the Galatians.

Thus, I propose the following adjustments:

New cities
: Phrygian towns in the early Hellenistic period generally lay in the west and south of Phrygia.

184 Dokimeion - Greek Macedonian polis, probably can be made a city as well with a small Macedonian population, unlike Gordion there was early Hellenic settlement here.
302 Kadoi - While it being in Phrygia or Mysia was hotly disputed between ancient authors, it was an earlier Phrygian city, probably with some Mysian population in the area too.
309 Akmoneia - And important early Hellenistic Phrygian center
315 Dorylaion- Part of a larger group of Phrygian towns in the region, probably best to make 1 a city.
1936 Kelanai - Fortified regional administrative centre that remained important into the Hellenistic period
1941 Synnada - Very old town and regional centre

Remove: Those could have their populations shifted to some of the more important urban centres above.

179 Philomelion - Attalid foundation at the earliest, became important much later on after the game's timeframe.
185 Ipsos - Not a significant town at all, we would have hardly known about it if not for the famous battle there, and there are about a dozen more important ones in the area before Ipsos should be considered for city status.
188 Pessinous - Cult centre yes, but not a city yet, should have a small population. Its elevation to a proper independent temple-state under the Attalids is what set Pessinous on the path of urbanisation.
189 Gordion - Also remove the Macedonian population, but add a fort, which can represent the walled Citadel which housed the village.


Trade goods: A few small changes to make the area more accurate from what we do know from the sources.

184 Dokimeion to Marble - the famous Synnadic marble came from quarries near here
188 Pessinous to Livestock - most of this province is part of the steppe region, and it was pastoralist
192 Tolastochora to Cloth - The area around Gordion was a major centre for animal husbandry, which included the wool produced by sheep as well.
228 Androna to Cloth - Idem, especially since the area now has no cloth at all, and the production of Vegetables would have been difficult beyond subsistence levels, whereas the steppe was great for animal husbandry.
1941 Synnada to Olives - the plain was covered in Olive plantations

Localisation:
192 Tolastochora to Goeleon, lay in the north part of this area, Tolastochora implies the chora of the Galatian Tolistobogii. Tolasochora could be the Celtic name?
1928 - Men Askaenos to Greek Antiokheia tis Pisidias and Lat. Antochia Caesaraea . Men Askaenos is a deity, not the name of the town.

Culture:
The border between the Phrygian lands lay further south-west then currently in game, including 1946 Hierapolis, 1948 Laodikeia, 1945 Kolossai, 1943 Anaua and the territories north of them. Currently many of these have a Carian majority, it should have a Phrygian one. (The extent of Carian culture into the Tauros is a different topic altogether, but there were other peoples living here, the Carians were predominantly coastal, like the Lykians.)

Sources:
Primarily: Dusinbere, E. R. M., 'The collapse of empire at Gordion in the transition from Achaemenid to Hellenistic world' Anatolian Studies (2019) Vol 69, pp. 109-132.

With some cross-referencing with a few other works such as Thonemann's Roman Phrygia and some other works. Please see a further (non-exhaustive, I don't update it as regularly anymore) list of sources at the bottom of this first post.
 
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Some ideas.

Trade started to flow along the Sangarios river instead of the Royal Road

compared to HoI4


and the map on Wikipedia the river seems too short.


the Wikipedia entry states that it was navigable in Bithynia.

considering all this, shouldn’t the river
  • Be extended in the south (S-shape)?
  • The part from Sophon Pass to the sea made a navigable tile?

Another difference is that area west of Gordion has quite diverse terrain (plain, mountain, forest, hills) in I:R but is depicted as all mountain in HoI4 (which has a less granular map). Did it change so much over 2000 years?


Should the terrain in some tiles be changed to mountains?
 
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Samitte

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and the map on Wikipedia the river seems too short.
It is, this is a common problem all over Anatolia and the Caucasus, the rivers in this area of the map are generally just badly done. No way to describe it otherwise, sadly. In my other thread I posted many examples of major rivers that start out of nowhere, and the Euphrates still isnt connected near Samosata. There are a great many rivers that flow up over mountains and follow fantasy courses as well.

Except for the Cestros in Pisidia/Pamphylia and the Halys, there is not a single river in the entirety of Anatolia, Armenia and the South Caucasus that isnt badly done. And the Halys has none of its important tributaries and the Cestros could use a little work.

  • Be extended in the south (S-shape)?
  • The part from Sophon Pass to the sea made a navigable tile?
Yes, as part of a larger attempt to fix the above mistakes (tbh except for the Halys, they should just redo all rivers in Anatolia, Armenia, the South Caucasus and Mesopotamia from scratch, this time with an atlas at hand).

Furthermore, while I approve of adding uninhabitable passes, the Sophon Pass should be removed, its a valley and quite habitable. The Sangarius could be navigable up to that point yes, its not a high priority but if they ever rework the Anatolian rivers - it could be done then.

Another difference is that area west of Gordion has quite diverse terrain (plain, mountain, forest, hills) in I:R but is depicted as all mountain in HoI4 (which has a less granular map). Did it change so much over 2000 years?
The HoI4 map for Anatolia is quite bad, but there could be some minor improvements made. The Sangarios valley after Gordioukome should probably be mostly a mix of mountains and forest. But these provinces are often drawn quite randomly and often ignore geography and so become a high mix of terrain.

In general though, provinces like Oka, "Transmonte" (its even in the bloody name, though it should just be renamed to Dadastana as Transmonte was not a locality, it was a place where a mountain could be crossed!) and provinces downstream from there up to the valley that is now called Sophon Pass.

But the whole terrain in Anatolia generally needs more Forest and Mountains. (Not the central steppe though, I'm talking about the coastal mountains) The whole of inner Mysia was forested mountains, but is entirely represented as Hills. Many mountainous regions on the coast are Plains. While important river valleys, which should be almost entirely Farmland, are made Forest. These issues are present elsewhere too, and someone should go over the terrain with an atlas in the future.
 
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Furthermore, while I approve of adding uninhabitable passes, the Sophon Pass should be removed, its a valley and quite habitable.
If it was inhabited it shouldn't be removed but changed to a settlement.

The HoI4 map for Anatolia is quite bad, but there could be some minor improvements made.
Slightly off-topic but, here is a thread discussing suggestions on how to improve the HoI4 map in this region (and in the Balkans).
 

dunka2

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Just a quick reminder that trying to use modern day maps (and comparing the Imperator map set over 2000 years previous to Hoi4) is an exercise in futility. Rivers, coastlines, harbours, and other geographic features were very different then.
 
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Just a quick reminder that trying to use modern day maps (and comparing the Imperator map set over 2000 years previous to Hoi4) is an exercise in futility. Rivers, coastlines, harbours, and other geographic features were very different then.
Its something that constantly affects pre-modern PDX games, as the historical geography of many areas tends to be quite specialised knowledge, if it has been studied at all. So many mistakes (for example the modern Caspian sea in Imperator) can be easily forgiven. Others though... *glares vehemently at the constant damn lakes that pop up in pre-modern PDX titles*
 
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dunka2

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Its something that constantly affects pre-modern PDX games, as the historical geography of many areas tends to be quite specialised knowledge, if it has been studied at all. So many mistakes (for example the modern Caspian sea in Imperator) can be easily forgiven. Others though... *glares vehemently at the constant damn lakes that pop up in pre-modern PDX titles*
Ha it's a difficult one. I'm impressed by some of what they've done though. The coats of Anatolia and and Southern Spain are particularly nice... but let's not talk about the British Isles... or really anywhere in Northern Europe