Stockholms universitet

Susanne Berndt ErsözSekreterare Publikationsnämnd

Om mig

I am an associate professor at the Department of Archaeology and Classical Studies, Stockholm University, where I in 2015 initiated a project about Ritual Castration in Antiquity, see below for more details.

My research is mainly focused on religion, archaeology and history of the Iron Age in the Eastern Mediterranean area.

In my previous research I have especially analysed ancient religion in Asia Minor from different aspects. In my doctoral dissertation I examined Phrygian rock-cut shrines and other religious monuments, where the archaeological, iconographic and epigraphic materials were taken into consideration. All known rock-cut monuments were collected and special importance was paid to spatial conceptualisations together with a detailed analysis of the structure of the monuments. The ultimate aim was to define the role of the rock-cut monuments in Phrygian religion and try to identify some of the cult practices that could be associated with the rock-cut monuments. A revised and updated version of my thesis was published by Brill in November 2006. See the list of selected publications.

From 2008 to 2010 I conducted a project on Cult and cult formations in Asia Minor 600 – 300 BC, financed by the Swedish Research Council. The aim was to analyse Achaemenian impact on local Anatolian cults. See my published articles from 2013 and 2014 in the list of publications.

Besides the research mentioned above, I have also made separate studies on Phrygian chronology and mythology, in addition to publications of graffiti and pot marks from the excavations at Kerkenes Dağ in central Asia Minor.

Current projects
Ritual Castration in Antiquity is a four-year project financed by the Swedish Research Council, which aims to examine castration that was self-imposed and performed on men after puberty in accordance with ancient religious traditions and beliefs. The primary aim is to conduct a thorough diachronic examination of ritual castration in antiquity with regard to its prevalence in various cults, its geographic distribution with analyses of influences, origin, and foremost, the purpose and function of ritual castration in different contexts. The study includes the Eastern Mediterranean area in addition to Italy from ca 800 BC until ca AD 400.

Since 2010 I am studying fragments of wall paintings from Gordion, kept at the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations at Ankara. The mud brick walls of a small cultic building dating to the Middle Phrygian period (5th century BC) were once decorated with painted plaster. The paintings had fallen to the floor when the walls were robbed of their timber during the ancient period, and during the excavations by the University of Pennsylvania were thousands of fragments of painted plaster recovered. This project aims to publish these fragments and is part of the Gordion Archaeological Project and conducted in close collaboration with the Museum of Anatolian Civilization at Ankara.

Swedish Research Council/Vetenskapsrådet ( and search in projektdatabas


I urval från Stockholms universitets publikationsdatabas

  • Cutting the Gordion knot

    2015. Susanne Berndt. Opuscula 8, 85-108


    This article examines the incised drawings of Early Phrygian Gordion, and in particular those of Megaton 2. Aspects of their iconographic and archaeological contexts are taken in to consideration, as well as literary sources and especially the story of the Gordian knot. The focus of the study is a series of incised labyrinths, which have hitherto not been recognized as such, but which are of particular interest for the analysis of this building. The myth of Theseus and the Minotaur in the labyrinth helps to throw light on both the images of Megaton 2 but also on the story of the Gordion knot, and how these are interlinked with each other. It is suggested that Ariadne's ball of thread and the Gordian knot are two different expressions of a similar concept; both represent sovereignty provided by a Goddess. Megaron 2 seems to have been a building that was intimately connected with both the king and the Phrygian Mother Goddess.

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  • The triad from Ephesos

    2014. Susanne Berndt-Ersöz. Labrys, 415-425


    This volume contains studies on Classical Antiquity presented to Professor Pontus Hellström on his 75th birthday in January 2014. The 41 papers cover subjects ranging from the Etruscans and Rome in the west, to Greece, the landscape of Karia, and to the Sanctuary of Zeus at Labraunda. Many papers deal with new discoveries at Labraunda, but sites in the surrounding area, such as Alabanda, Iasos, and Halikarnassos are well represented, as well as Ephesos and Smyrna. Many architectural studies are included, and these examine both Labraundan buildings and topics such as masonry, Vitruvius, the Erechtheion, stoas, watermills, and Lelegian houses. Other papers deal with ancient coins, ancient music, Greek meatballs, and Karian theories on the origin of ancient Greece.

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