The Expedition

Howard Crosby Butler

The first large-scale scientific excavations at Sardis were carried out by Prof. Howard Crosby Butler of Princeton University, at the invitation of Osman Hamdi Bey, director of the Imperial Museum (Müze-i Hümayun; today’s Istanbul Archaeological Museum) (figs. 1, 2). Between 1910 and 1914, with a final season in 1922, Butler uncovered the Temple of Artemis, much of its precinct, and more than 1,100 tombs in the Necropolis of Sardis (figs. 3, 4). The excavations were discontinued due to Butler’s unexpected death in 1922 and the unsettled political situation.

  • Fig. 1

    Howard Crosby Butler and his team (Howard Crosby Butler Archive, Department of Art and Archaeology, Princeton University)

  • Fig. 2

    Memorial for H. C. Butler (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)

  • Fig. 3

    Howard Crosby Butler's excavations in the Temple of Artemis, 1910. (Howard Crosby Butler Archive, Department of Art and Archaeology, Princeton University)

  • Fig. 4

    The Temple of Artemis before excavation, 1910. (Howard Crosby Butler Archive, Department of Art and Archaeology, Princeton University)

The Archaeological Exploration of Sardis

In 1958 George M. A. Hanfmann, Professor of Archaeology in the Departments of Fine Arts and Classics, Harvard University, as well as Curator of Ancient Art at Harvard's Fogg Art Museum, and Prof. Henry Detweiler, Dean of the Architecture School at Cornell University, founded a new expedition, the Archaeological Exploration of Sardis, with the permission and support of the General Directorate of Cultural Heritage and Museums of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the Republic of Turkey (figs. 5, 6). Prof. Hanfmann undertook many projects in excavation, research, conservation, and restoration, with a multidisciplinary team employing the latest techniques and methods. Major results of Prof. Hanfmann’s research include the excavation and restoration of the Bath-Gymnasium complex (fig. 7), Synagogue, and Byzantine Shops in the northwestern portion of the city; excavation of a Lydian gold refinery at sector PN (Pactolus North), with the discovery of early, technologically sophisticated chemical processing; deep excavations at sector HoB (House of Bronzes), which produced remains dating from the Late Bronze Age through the Lydian period and into Late Antiquity; excavations on the Acropolis of Sardis; excavations in tumuli at the royal cemetery of Bin Tepe, including the colossal mound of Karnıyarık Tepe (fig. 8); excavations of prehistoric settlements on the shores of the Gygaean Lake; and many other locations.

Prof. Crawford H. Greenewalt, jr., professor in the Department of Classics at the University of California, Berkeley, directed the Sardis Expedition for more than 30 years, from 1976-2007 (figs. 9, 10, 11). With his particular interest in the Lydian world, Prof. Greenewalt focused on the city in the Lydian period, particularly its fortification walls and gate, only discovered in 1976 by Prof. Andrew Ramage (sectors MMS, MMS/N, and MMS/S), monumental terraces that probably formed the core of the Lydian city (ByzFort and Field 49), and on the tumuli at Bin Tepe. Prof. Greenewalt cultivated a deep interest and expertise in all aspects of antiquity, from Lydian pottery to perfumes and unguents, cuisine, horsemanship, and other little-known aspects of the ancient world. His generosity, openness, and modesty were as legendary as his extraordinary learning.

The Expedition has been directed since 2008 by Prof. Nicholas Cahill of the University of Wisconsin-Madison (fig. 12). With associate directors Andrew Ramage, David Mitten, Bahadır Yıldırım, Marcus Rautman, Elizabeth Gombosi, Susanne Ebbinghaus, and Ruth Bielfeldt, the expedition conducts ongoing fieldwork, conservation, research, and publication. Current research projects include the excavation of the Lydian palatial (?) complex and buildings of later periods (at sectors F49 and ByzFort); excavation and conservation in the Sanctuary of Artemis; excavation at a Roman sanctuary of the imperial cult (sectors Wadi B and F55), and at the western gate to the city (sector RT). Each year’s team consists of 50-60 scholars, students, and professionals from the United States, Turkey, and around the world, including experts in archaeology, art history, architecture, anthropology, conservation, numismatics, epigraphy, illustration, photography, geophysics, history, and other disciplines (figs. 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18). Over the past half-century more than 700 students and scholars from more than 100 institutions have worked at Sardis.

The permanent research and publication center is located at the Harvard Art Museums in Cambridge, MA, and is directed by Bahadır Yıldırım (fig. 19). Publications Data Manager Theresa Huntsman is responsible for increasingly large digital and digitized archive that the Expedition has accumulated over half a century, and for much of the content of this web site. Robin Woodman, Expedition Coordinator, manages the office and preparation for each year’s fieldwork. Student staff and volunteers constitute an essential part of the research team and have contributed to many important aspects of the project.

With Harvard University Press, the Sardis Expedition has published eighteen reports and monographs, and numerous articles, exhibition catalogs, and other studies. Publications now in process include Churches E and EA at sector PN, by Hans Buchwald; the Lydian levels at sector HoB, by Andrew Ramage (fig. 20) with Gül Gürtekin-Demir, and at sector PC, by Nancy Ramage; the Synagogue, by Andrew Seager (fig. 21), with Marcus Rautman and Vanessa Rousseau; the Temple of Artemis, by Fikret Yegül (fig. 22); prehistoric and protohistoric settlements around the Gygaean Lake, by Daniel Pullen, with Andrew Ramage, Phil Sapirstein, Ann Gunter, and Christopher Roosevelt; inscriptions, by Georg Petzl (fig. 23); coins, by Jane DeRose Evans (fig. 24); and Hellenistic pottery, by Andrea Berlin and Susan Rotroff (figs. 25, 26).

Conservation and site development projects in recent years have included the conservation of the Lydian Altar in the Sanctuary of Artemis (figs. 27, 28), conservation of mosaics and other features of the Synagogue (fig. 16), and cleaning of biological films (lichens, cyanobacteria, etc.) from the Temple of Artemis (figs. 29, 30, 31), all generously supported by the J.M. Kaplan Fund. We are developing projects to build permanent protective roofs of glass and steel over the Synagogue and Lydian fortification, to conserve and open to the public the Lydian fortification and gate, Lydian and Roman houses, and other features in sectors MMS, MMS/N, and MMS/S, and to conserve Church M in the Sanctuary of Artemis as well as other parts of the site.

  • Fig. 5

    Prof. G.M.A. Hanfmann at the discovery of a bearded head of a Roman man, S61.018 (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)

  • Fig. 6

    Kemal Polatkan (left), Prof. Henry Detweiler, George Hanfmann, John Pedley (center), Gus Swift (foreground), and Mrs. Hanfmann (right) at Church E, 1963 (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)

  • Fig. 7

    Restoration of the Bath-Gymnasium Complex, 1967 (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)

  • Fig. 8

    Excavations in Karnıyarık Tepe, 1965 (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)

  • Fig. 9

    Prof. Crawford H. Greenewalt, jr. (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)

  • Fig. 10

    Crawford H. Greenewalt, jr. (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)

  • Fig. 11

    Crawford H. Greenewalt, jr. at Karnıyarık Tepe (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)

  • Fig. 12

    Nicholas Cahill in Tomb 07.1 (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)

  • Fig. 13

    Archaeologist Tiziana D’Angelo excavating in a Lydian house under the Hellenistic theater (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)

  • Fig. 14

    Architects Brianna Bricker and Nathaniel Schlundt surveying in the temple of Artemis (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)

  • Fig. 15

    Conservator Jennifer Kim mending Lydian grayware from sector ByzFort (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)

  • Fig. 16

    Conservator Catherine Williams consolidating mosaics in the Synagogue (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)

  • Fig. 17

    Conservator Kent Severson cleaning a silver Lydian coin (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)

  • Fig. 18

    Sardis staff, 2010 (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)

  • Fig. 19

    Bahadır Yıldırım (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)

  • Fig. 20

    Andrew Ramage (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)

  • Fig. 21

    Andrew Seager in the Synagogue (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)

  • Fig. 22

    Fikret Yegül in the Temple of Artemis (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)

  • Fig. 23

    Georg Petzl studying an inscription from the sanctuary of the Imperial Cult (Field 55), 2013 (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)

  • Fig. 24

    Jane Evans, numismatist, and Katherine Kiefer, editor, working in the Sardis depot (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)

  • Fig. 25

    Andrea Berlin studying Hellenistic pottery from sector PN (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)

  • Fig. 26

    Susan Rotroff studying Eastern Sigillata B pottery from Sardis (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)

  • Fig. 27

    Lydian Altar and Temple of Artemis, before conservation, 2007 (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)

  • Fig. 28

    Lydian Altar and Temple of Artemis, after conservation, 2012 (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)

  • Fig. 29

    Temple of Artemis, northeast anta, 2012 (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)

  • Fig. 30

    Temple of Artemis during removal of biofilms (lichens, cyanobacteria, etc.), 2014 (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)

  • Fig. 31

    Temple of Artemis after removal of biofilms, 2014 (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)

Further Reading

A general account of Prof. Butler’s results is published in his Sardis I: The Excavations, and specialized studies include reports on the Temple of Artemis, Greek Inscriptions, Lydian inscriptions, coins, sarcophagi, and jewelry.

A general account of Prof. Hanfmann’s excavations is published in his Sardis from Prehistoric to Roman Times. Other publications of his results are available in the publications section as freely downloadable pdfs.

A volume of essays dedicated to Prof. Greenewalt is Love For Lydia: A Sardis Anniversary Volume Presented to Crawford H. Greenewalt, jr. (pdf) This includes a bibliography of Greenewalt’s publications until 2008.

Results of fieldwork are published in preliminary reports in the Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research (1958 - 1993 seasons) and the American Journal of Archaeology (1994 to present), and in the yearly Kazı Sonuçları Toplantısı. For a full list of publications see the bibliography.