• latw-206-207-1
    Figural linchpins and pins from tumulus BT 89.1, Nos. 206-207 (Photograph by Crawford H. Greenewalt, jr.)
  • latw-206-207-2
    Two figural linchpins. Side. (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)
  • latw-206-207-3
    Two figural linchpins. Reverse. (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)
  • latw-206-207-4
    Two figural linchpins. Reverse. (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)
  • latw-206-207-5
    Figural linchpin as seen in the relief of the chariot of Darius from Persepolis. (Photograph by Machteld Mellink)

Two figural linchpins

Late sixth or early fifth century BC, Late Lydian (Persian)
Manisa, Archaeological and Ethnographic Museum, 7147-7148
Inventory No.
Iron, Bronze
Object Type
Metalwork Type
Horsetrapping, Architectural or Structural Fitting
BT 89.1
Two linchpins from a pair of wheels, each consisting of a cast human torso with arms, attached to an iron pin. The figures wear the high, soft hats with tapering ends falling forward, commonly called Persian tiaras or Phrygian caps, and have their arms bent with their clenched hands on their stomachs. Manisa 7147: height of figure 0.097 m, length of iron pin 0.103 m, width 0.053 m. Manisa 7148: height 0.11 m, width 0.034-0.057 m.
This pair of linchpins and the pair of rams’ head pins, Nos. 208-209, were found in the dromos and antechamber of a looted tumulus tomb at Bin Tepe, together with the iron hardware from the wheels of a cart, bells, and other objects (Baughan, “Lydian Burial Customs”). The large wheels (1.60 m diameter, as wide as the dromos of the tomb) had been laid one on top of the other near the front of the dromos; one ram’s head linchpin was found with the wheels, the other three were found near the door block of the chamber. The type of wheel is Near Eastern in origin, particularly Achaemenid Persian, and is depicted on reliefs from Persepolis in Iran, which show similar linchpins (Fig. ) and on grave reliefs from Daskyleion, among other places.

The iconography of travel by horse-drawn wagon or carriage is common in tomb reliefs and paintings of the Persian era in western Anatolia. Horse-drawn vehicles are represented on stelai from Daskyleion, the Karaburun Tumulus at Elmalı, on the painted wooden tumulus at Tatarlı, and in the Harta Tumulus near Kırkağaç (Özgen, “Lydian Treasure”), among other monuments, as well as on the Mourning Women sarcophagus from Sidon (Nollé 1992; Ateşlier 2002; Draycott 2007; Summerer 2007; Summerer 2008).

Actual remains of wheeled vehicles, disassembled (or ritually “killed”?) and placed in the dromos, are preserved at a number of western Anatolian tumuli, including this one, the Üçpınar Tumulus near Balıkesir, the tumulus at Akalan near Kütahya, and the Kızöldün Tumulus in the Troad (Kökten Ersoy 1998; cf. Roosevelt 2003, 185; Baughan 2004, 342-347). The significance of these wheels, and the vehicles to which they belonged, remains debated. Were they made specifically for the funerary procession that carried the body to the grave? Did they belong to carts used for travel during the lifetime of the deceased. Or were they for some other purpose?

Baughan, “Lydian Burial Customs”
Kökten Ersoy 1998, 117, nos. S/B.1-2; Greenewalt et al. 1993, 37; Dedeoğlu 1991; Dedeoğlu 2003, 77; Roosevelt 2003, 406.