Yes, he was real! Sort of. The legend of the rich King Midas is based on the life of King Mita, who ruled Phyrgia in what is today Turkey around 700 BCE. His tomb was discovered in the city of Gordion in 1957, and the site excited the world with its textiles, wooden furniture, and clay jars containing lots of residue. Everything pointed to a wonderful send-off feast fit for…well, a king!
King Mita was sent off lavishly. From the samples of residue left in the 18 pottery jars in the tomb, chemists detected traces of spicy goat or lamb stew, made with meat marinated in honey, wine, and olive oil. Lentils were probably served with the soup, and it may have been eaten with flatbread instead of forks or chopsticks.
But no feast is complete without drinking! Mourners drank barley beer, wine, and mead from bronze vessels. Though they were just bronze, not gold, there were a lot of them, with about 150 bronze goblets found in all. And when they were polished, they shone as if touched by the mythological King Midas.