Only King Midas, with his golden touch, could turn some 2,700-year-old remains into a feast fit for a king. And indeed, at the University Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology on Saturday night, about 150 guests were treated to a royal dinner -- the exact dinner mourners at the Phrygian king's funerary feast ate in 700 B.C. The "Feast Fit for King Midas" dinner event was recreated from findings at the site of the "Midas Mound" tomb in Gordion in central Turkey. The historically accurate menu was based on evidence from Midas' banquet remains and consisted of a spicy fire-roasted lamb and lentil stew, as well as a specially brewed "King Midas Golden Elixir" wine, barley beer and honey mead. The black-tie optional dinner was a fundraiser for the Museum's Applied Science Center for Archaeology. Tickets cost $150 for non-members and $135 for members. Invitations went out to museum members and those associated with the chemical analysis of the remains. No Penn students were in attendance. "This is the first time such an ancient feast has been recreated primarily from chemical evidence," said Patrick McGovern, senior research scientist in the Museum's Applied Science Center for Archaeology. "To have been associated with Midas -- who is associated with legend, but was also actually an historic figure -- makes it all the more remarkable." The archaeological site, first discovered in 1957, revealed a well-preserved tomb, elaborately inlaid wooden furniture and hundreds of bronze serving vessels and drinking bowls. Over five pounds of ancient remains were left inside the vessels according to McGovern, who specializes in molecular archaeology. Lab analysis of these "leftovers" concluded that the king ate either lamb or goat. "You will be the first to taste the results and judge just how well the ancient Phrygians ate and dined," McGovern told the guests. Museum Catering Company Executive Chef Pamela Horowitz was responsible for the evening's meal, which was thoroughly researched for accuracy. "Although it's a seemingly simple task -- OOh, I'll just make some stew' -- I [couldn't] use potatoes. They weren't around then," Horowitz said. "I [couldn't] use tomatoes. They weren't around then. We had to research the indigenous ingredients." The three-course meal featured specialties from the region such as stuffed grape leaves and sun-dried fruits, a Turkish Mezze with goat cheese and olive and garbanzo spread and a dessert of a honey-carmelized fennel tarte with pekmez, a traditional raisin and honey sauce. The chocolate truffle was gold-plated. Also speaking at the dinner fundraiser was Elizabeth Simpson, director of the Gordion Furniture Project, who described the excavation and subsequent restoration processes of the tomb. Simpson's research on the furniture enabled her to reconstruct the course of events at the funeral and ritual banquet and led to her suggestion of analyzing the organic material found. As the speakers discussed their experiences, guests viewed slides of the excavation site. Each table was graced with a basket of golden apples and a blown-up copy of the 1957 New York Times article describing the initial finding. The event also featured the unveiling of the "King Midas" display, which will be featured in the main entrance of the museum beginning September 26.
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