The Info List - Sardis

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SARDIS (/ˈsɑːrdɪs/ ) or SARDES (/ˈsɑːrdiːz/ ; Lydian : Sfard; Ancient Greek : Σάρδεις Sardeis; Old Persian : Sparda) was an ancient city at the location of modern Sart (Sartmahmut before 19 October 2005) in Turkey
's Manisa Province
Manisa Province
. Sardis
was the capital of the ancient kingdom of Lydia
, one of the important cities of the Persian Empire , the seat of a proconsul under the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
, and the metropolis of the province Lydia
in later Roman and Byzantine times. As one of the Seven churches of Asia
Seven churches of Asia
, it was addressed by John , the author of the Book of Revelation
Book of Revelation
in the Bible
, in terms which seem to imply that its population was notoriously soft and fainthearted. Its importance was due first to its military strength, secondly to its situation on an important highway leading from the interior to the Aegean coast, and thirdly to its commanding the wide and fertile plain of the Hermus .


* 1 Geography * 2 History * 3 Archaeological expeditions * 4 Sardis
synagogue * 5 See also * 6 References * 7 Further reading * 8 External links


was situated in the middle of Hermus valley, at the foot of Mount Tmolus , a steep and lofty spur which formed the citadel. It was about 4 kilometres (2.5 mi) south of the Hermus. Today, the site is located by the present day village of Sart, near Salihli
in the Manisa province of Turkey, close to the Ankara
- İzmir
highway (approximately 72 kilometres (45 mi) from İzmir
). The part of remains including the bath-gymnasium complex, synagogue and Byzantine shops is open to visitors year-round.


See also: Lydia

The Greek historian and father of history, Herodotus, notes that the city was founded by the sons of Hercules, the Heraclides.The earliest reference to Sardis
is in The Persians
The Persians
of Aeschylus
(472 BC); in the Iliad
, the name Hyde seems to be given to the city of the Maeonian (i.e. Lydian ) chiefs and in later times Hyde was said to be the older name of Sardis, or the name of its citadel . It is, however, more probable that Sardis
was not the original capital of the Maeonians, but that it became so amid the changes which produced the powerful Lydian empire
Lydian empire
of the 8th century BC. Map of Sardis
and Other Cities within the Lydian Empire

The city was captured by the Cimmerians
in the 7th century BC, by the Persians in the 6th, by the Athenians
in the 5th, and by Antiochus III the Great at the end of the 3rd century BC. In the Persian era, Sardis was conquered by Cyrus the Great
Cyrus the Great
and formed the end station for the Persian Royal Road
Royal Road
which began in Persepolis
, capital of Persia
. During the Ionian Revolt
Ionian Revolt
, the Athenians
burnt down the city. Sardis remained under Persian domination until it surrendered to Alexander the Great in 334 BC.

The early Lydian kingdom was very advanced in the industrial arts and Sardis
was the chief seat of its manufactures. The most important of these trades was the manufacture and dyeing of delicate woolen stuffs and carpets. The stream Pactolus
which flowed through the market-place "carried golden sands" in early antiquity, which was in reality gold dust out of Mount Tmolus . It was during the reign of King Croesus that the metallurgists of Sardis
discovered the secret of separating gold from silver , thereby producing both metals of a purity never known before. This was an economic revolution, for while gold nuggets panned or mined were used as currency, their purity was always suspect and a hindrance to trade. Such nuggets or coinage were naturally occurring alloys of gold and silver known as electrum and one could never know how much of it was gold and how much was silver. Sardis
now could mint nearly pure silver and gold coins, the value of which could be — and was — trusted throughout the known world. This revolution made Sardis
rich and Croesus
' name synonymous with wealth itself. For this reason, Sardis
is famed in history as the place where modern currency was invented.

Disaster came to the great city under the reign of the emperor Tiberius
, when in AD 17, Sardis
was destroyed by an earthquake , but it was rebuilt with the help of ten million sesterces from the Emperor and exempted from paying taxes for five years. It was one of the great cities of western Asia Minor
Asia Minor
until the later Byzantine
period. Remains of the Greek Byzantine
shops in Sardis

Later, trade and the organization of commerce continued to be sources of great wealth. After Constantinople
became the capital of the East, a new road system grew up connecting the provinces with the capital. Sardis
then lay rather apart from the great lines of communication and lost some of its importance. It still, however, retained its titular supremacy and continued to be the seat of the metropolitan bishop of the province of Lydia, formed in AD 295. It was enumerated as third, after Ephesus
and Smyrna
, in the list of cities of the Thracesion thema given by Constantine Porphyrogenitus
Constantine Porphyrogenitus
in the 10th century. However, over the next four centuries it was in the shadow of the provinces of Magnesia-upon-Sipylum and Philadelphia, which retained their importance in the region.

After 1071 the Hermus valley began to suffer from the inroads of the Seljuk Turks
Seljuk Turks
but the Byzantine
general John Doukas reconquered the city in 1097, the successes of the general Philokales in 1118 relieved the district from later Turkish pressure and the ability of the Comneni dynasty together with the gradual decay of the Seljuk Sultanate of Rum meant that it remained under Byzantine
dominion. When Constantinople
was taken by the Venetians and Franks
in 1204 Sardis came under the rule of the Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
of Nicea . However once the Byzantines retook Constantinople
in 1261, Sardis
with the entire Asia Minor
Asia Minor
was neglected and the region eventually fell under the control of Ghazi ( Ghazw ) emirs, the Cayster valleys and a fort on the citadel of Sardis
was handed over to them by treaty in 1306. The city continued its decline until its capture (and probable destruction) by the Turco-Mongol
warlord Timur
in 1402.


Further information: Byzantine
churches at Sardis
The Greek Temple of Artemis
at Sardis

By the 19th century, Sardis
was in ruins, showing construction chiefly of the Roman period. Early excavators included the British explorer George Dennis , who uncovered an enormous marble head of Faustina the Elder
Faustina the Elder
, wife of the Roman Emperor Antoninus Pius
Antoninus Pius
. Found in the precinct of the Temple of Artemis
, it probably formed part of a pair of colossal statues devoted to the Imperial couple. The 1.76 metre high head is now kept at the British Museum
British Museum
. The first large scale archaeological expedition in Sardis
was directed by a Princeton University team led by Howard Crosby Butler between years 1910–1914, unearthing a temple to Artemis
, and more than a thousand Lydian tombs. The excavation campaign was halted by World War I
World War I
, followed by the Turkish War of Independence
Turkish War of Independence
, though it briefly resumed in 1922. Some surviving artifacts from the Butler excavation were added to the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Metropolitan Museum of Art
in New York .

A new expedition known as the Archaeological Exploration of Sardis was founded in 1958 by G.M.A. Hanfmann, professor in the Department of Fine Arts at Harvard University
Harvard University
, and by Henry Detweiler, dean of the Architecture School at Cornell University . Hanfmann excavated widely in the city and the region, excavating and restoring the major Roman bath-gymnasium complex, the synagogue, late Roman houses and shops, a Lydian industrial area for processing electrum into pure gold and silver, Lydian occupation areas, and tumulus tombs at Bin Tepe. From 1976 until 2007, the excavation was directed by Crawford H. Greenewalt, jr., professor in the Department of Classics at the University of California, Berkeley
University of California, Berkeley
. Since 2008, the excavation has been under the directorship of Nicholas Cahill, professor at the University of Wisconsin–Madison
University of Wisconsin–Madison
. The laws governing archaeological expeditions in Turkey
ensure that all archaeological artifacts remain in Turkey. Some of the important finds from the site of Sardis
are housed in the Archaeological Museum of Manisa
Archaeological Museum of Manisa
, including Late Roman mosaics and sculpture, a helmet from the mid-6th century BC, and pottery from various periods.


Main article: Sardis Synagogue The Sardis Synagogue

Since 1958, both Harvard and Cornell Universities have sponsored annual archeological expeditions to Sardis. These excavations unearthed perhaps the most impressive synagogue in the western diaspora yet discovered from antiquity, yielding over eighty Greek and seven Hebrew inscriptions as well as numerous mosaic floors. (For evidence in the east, see Dura Europos in Syria
.) The discovery of the Sardis
synagogue has reversed previous assumptions about Judaism in the later Roman empire. Along with the discovery of the godfearers /theosebeis inscription from Aphrodisias
, it provides indisputable evidence for the continued presence of Jewish communities in Asia Minor and their integration into general Roman life at a time when many scholars previously assumed that Christianity had eclipsed Judaism.

The synagogue was a section of a large bath-gymnasium complex, that was in use for about 450 – 500 years. In the beginning, middle of the 2nd century AD, the rooms the synagogue is situated in were used as changing rooms or resting rooms.

and the Hebrew Sepharad may have been one and the same.


* Cities of the ancient Near East
Cities of the ancient Near East
* List of synagogues in Turkey


* ^ Rhodes, P.J. A History of the Classical Greek World 478-323 BC. 2nd edition. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010, p. 6. * ^ A. Ramage, P. Craddock, KING CROESUS\' GOLD: EXCAVATIONS AT SARDIS AND THE HISTORY OF GOLD REFINING. ARCHAEOLOGICAL EXPLORATION OF SARDIS, Arch. Expl. Sardis
(2001) * ^ Tacitus, The Annals 2.47 * ^ British Museum
British Museum
Collection * ^ Hanfmann, George M.A., Et al. 1983. Sardis
from Prehistoric to Roman Times: Results of the Archaeological Exploration of Sardis 1958–1975, Harvard University
Harvard University
Press. * ^ Cahill, Nicholas D., ed. 2008. "Love for Lydia. A Sardis Anniversary Volume Presented to Crawford H. Greenewalt, jr.", Archaeological Exploration of Sardis. * ^ "Archaeological Exploration of Sardis, Harvard Art Museums". Retrieved January 9, 2013.


* Hanfmann, George M.A., Et al. 1983. Sardis