Small sculpture ‘was once attached to King Midas’s throne’

PHILADELPHIA (AP) – A nine-inch (23-centimeter) ivory sculpture found decades ago in Greece may be part of the lost throne of King Midas, a University of Pennsylvania archaeologist has said. The throne belonging to the king, whose wealth inspired the myth that he could turn anything he touched into gold, disappeared around 400 BC. Keith DeVries, an associate curator at the university’s Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, said on Wednesday that he believes the ivory statuette of a lion-tamer once adorned Midas’s seat of power. The sculpture was found in 1939 in Delphi, but historians have been unable to agree on its origin. Midas lived between 725 and 675 BC in what is now central Turkey and was king of the Phrygians. Ancient texts said he gave his throne as an offering to the Greek god Apollo. DeVries has spent years studying the site where Midas lived in the Phrygian capital of Gordion. He has also examined the writings of the Greek historian Herodotus, who claimed to have seen the throne at Delphi three centuries after the king’s death. DeVries said the sculpture appears to be Phrygian, produced in Gordion around the time that Midas was alive, and bears markings on its back indicating that it was once attached to something else. He said the piece was found near the Corinthian Treasury in Delphi, the same place where Herodotus claimed to have seen the Midas throne in the fifth century. «It all adds up to a strong case,» he said, «that the statuette once was attached to the king’s throne.» He plans to present his findings tomorrow at the annual meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Meanwhile, violations of Greek air space have been increasing. Yesterday, 10 formations of 27 Turkish warplanes entered the Athens Flight Information Region in the northern Aegean and east of Rhodes and committed 10 violations of the FIR and and six of Greece’s national air space. Air space violations increased by 30 percent last year, causing alarm at the Defense Ministry, which believes Greece and Turkey are entering a stormy period.

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