The City of Sardis

Nicholas Cahill

Introduction

Sardis occupies a site of great natural beauty, fertility, and security. Strategically located on one of the main routes from the Aegean coast to inland Anatolia, it lies at the foot of the Tmolus Mountains (modern Boz Dağ) and overlooks the well-watered plain of the Hermus River (modern Gediz Irmak) and the Gygaean Lake (modern Marmara Gölü). Its acropolis rises in sheer undulating cliffs, 300 m above the plain, forming an almost invulnerable citadel (Figs. 1, 2, 3).

By the foot of the acropolis, the Pactolus River brought to the city both water and gold (Greenewalt, “Gold Working at Sardis”). The earliest Greek writers described the Lydian king as “rich in gold”; and “golden” became a common epithet of Sardis, the Pactolus, and the region in general. In Greek and Roman myth, the gold was the result of the Phrygian king Midas washing away the Golden Touch in the river. By the time of Strabo in the first century BC the gold in the Pactolus had been exhausted, but Sardis and the Lydians never lost the epithet of “golden.”1

The city and its territory were rich in other resources as well. By the Hellenistic period, parts of the rich forests in the Tmolus Mountains behind Sardis were royal preserves. Marble quarries were located in the Tmolus range. The fertile land of the plain around Sardis was inhabited in small villages and estates, some of which were the homes of rich landowners who, especially during the Persian period, were buried in conspicuous tumuli with spectacular burial offerings (see Özgen, “The Lydian Treasure” and Baughan, “Lydian Burial Customs”).2

Sardis is one of a number of Iron Age cities consisting of a fortified citadel surrounded by a separately defended lower town. In the seventh and sixth centuries BC, the lower city was located on the north slopes of the acropolis.3 A mixture of houses, sanctuaries, and tombs surrounded the fortified area, creating a broad, mixed-use suburb (Figs. 1, 2).

  • Fig. 1

    Map of Sardis and environs, showing the hypothetical extent of occupation in the Lydian period, and distribution of tombs and other extramural sites (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)

  • Fig. 2

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

  • Fig. 3

    View of Sardis from the Hermus plain. On the left, one of the peaks of the Boz Dağ (Mt. Tmolus). Center: The Acropolis of Sardis; the Lydian terraces of sectors ByzFort and Field 49 are immediately below. On the right, the Roman Bath-Gymnasium Complex. (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)

The Acropolis

Sardis was famous in antiquity for its impenetrable acropolis. Its natural cliffs were so steep that fortification walls were hardly needed (Figs. 4, 5); in addition, the legendary King Meles is said to have carried a lion (born to his concubine) around its circuit to ensure its invulnerability. He omitted one section, however, and this was where the citadel was scaled by the Persians. On at least three occasions, the acropolis held out against powerful invaders for weeks, months, or more. By the time of Alexander the Great, the citadel was defended by a triple ring of fortifications, which Alexander himself greatly admired. Today there are only two routes of access, both quite arduous.4

The most spectacular remains on the acropolis today belong to the Byzantine period, after the lower city had been largely abandoned and was being quarried for building material. The fortification walls that cling precariously to the cliffs are built almost entirely from recycled blocks of earlier buildings. This cannibalization of earlier structures, however, has destroyed most of the remains from the Lydian, Persian, Hellenistic, and Roman periods, and today the remains give little sense of the grandeur that must have characterized the citadel at the height of its power.

From the Lydian period, a series of terrace walls, built of beautifully worked limestone and sandstone blocks, rises along the north side of the citadel (Figs. 6, 7,8, 9). Traces of a stairway show that these were not part of the fortifications but must have supported some other kind of structure, such as a palace or sanctuary. Nothing is preserved above the terrace walls themselves, and one can only guess at what the complex might have looked like.5 The walls probably date to the first half of the sixth century BC, although they probably continued to be used in later periods. Two later walls on the south flank of the acropolis are perhaps fortifications.

Elsewhere on the acropolis, luxurious finds attest to the richness of life in the Lydian period. Such finds include the bronze boar-shaped horse trapping (No. 48), the Attic Merrythought cup (No. 104), Lydian electrum and silver coins (Nos. 17, 18, 29; see Kroll, “Coins of Sardis”), and the remains of buildings with elaborately decorated roofs (No. 59; see Ateşlier, “Lydian Architectural Terracottas”). The latter may belong to a sanctuary of Artemis on the acropolis.6

  • Fig. 4

    The eroded pinnacle of the Acropolis of Sardis (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)

  • Fig. 5

    The Acropolis of Sardis, showing the Byzantine fortifications (“Flying Towers”) (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)

  • Fig. 6

    Lydian terrace walls of Acropolis North, looking east (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)

  • Fig. 7

    Reconstruction drawing of terrace walls of Acropolis North (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)

  • Fig. 8

    Reconstruction of the Lydian Fortification in the mid-6th C. BC, looking east into the city (P.T. Stinson) (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)

  • Fig. 9

    Reconstruction of the Lydian Fortification in the mid-6th C. BC, looking west out of the city (P.T. Stinson) (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)

The Lower City: Defenses

While the Lydian defenses of the acropolis were famous in antiquity, not a trace of them survives today. The defenses of the lower city, on the other hand, are never explicitly described in literature, but are remarkably well preserved and among the most spectacular achievements of Lydian architecture. Unsuspected until 1976, the Lydian fortification encloses roughly the same area as the Roman city wall, built some 900 years later (Figs. 8, 9). It followed natural, defensible ridges down from the acropolis, converting the ridges themselves to fortifications, and crowning, facing, and regularizing their slopes into sheer escarpments. Skirting the edge of the Hermus plain, the wall enclosed a sizable area of level ground below the steeper slopes and hills along the foot of the acropolis. The fortification thus enclosed some 108 ha, about the size of Miletus (110 ha), more than twice the size of Gordion (60 ha), but smaller than Hattusa (180 ha), and much smaller than the great Mesopotamian capitals of Babylon (850 ha), Nineveh (750 ha), Nimrud (360 ha), and Khorsabad (ca. 300 ha).7

Unlike the fortifications of contemporary cities, the wall of Sardis was built in stretches of different materials, techniques, and styles. Some of this variety probably results from the almost constant repairs and alterations that the Lydians seem to have lavished on their wall, but the circuit may never have presented a unified whole. This diversity is one of the wall’s most enigmatic features and makes it difficult to understand exactly how different parts of the structure functioned. The scale of the wall, however, is always colossal. Over most of its course it reaches or exceeds a width of 18-20 m, and it was reinforced in places with earthworks that brought its total width to perhaps 30-40 m; it is preserved to a height of up to 10-13 m, and was originally significantly higher (Figs. 10, 11, 12, 13, 14). As a city, Sardis was smaller than contemporary Mesopotamian capitals, its fortifications thus rivaled in scale the walls of those great cities, making a powerful statement about the place of Sardis among the great metropoleis of the Near East.8 Of contemporary Greek cities, only the walls of Smyrna rivaled those of Sardis and were very probably influenced by the Lydian model.9

In an early phase, the fortification seems to have been made from mudbrick set on a low stone foundation, with a sloping, rather than vertical, face (Fig. 11). But within a short time—perhaps a generation or two—much of the mudbrick seems to have been replaced by a stone facing 4 m thick, made of large boulders, rising vertically from the foundation (Fig. 12). This would have provided a much more durable and imposing façade. On the exterior of the fortification, a massive glacis or earthwork, built of sloping layers of sand and gravel, covered the older mudbrick face of the wall, more than doubling the width of the wall (Figs. 13, 14). This glacis and other modifications were probably intended to keep siege engines from approaching too close to the main wall.10

The upper part of the wall is entirely destroyed, and its design and construction are known only from fallen and shattered remains in the destruction debris. A layer of broken and burned stones, pavement slabs, and wood charcoal suggests that buildings such as guard houses were set on top of the wall, perhaps similar to those that crowned the contemporary fortification at Küçük Höyük at Gordion, perhaps also a Lydian construction. Wooden doors, shutters, or other features had completely burned but left rectangular arrays of iron nails on the ground in front of the wall (Fig. 15). The wall was probably topped with crenellations, as were so many ancient fortifications, but of these no traces survive.11

Access to the top of the wall would have been critical for its defense. At one spot, a corridor within the mudbrick of the wall probably provided a passage to the top; if there were external stairways or ladders, no trace has been found so far (Fig. 16). The corridor was heavily burned and vitrified in the final destruction of the wall (see Cahill, “The Persian Sack of Sardis”).

One gate in the wall has been excavated, on the west side of the city facing Smyrna and the Aegean. Originally built in mudbrick, it was later faced with crisply cut squared blocks of limestone and sandstone, probably in the second quarter of the sixth century BC (Figs. 17, 18). Its design includes a wide forecourt leading into a narrower, 5.5-meter-wide passage. A road with a cobbled surface, still bearing wheel ruts, led through the gate. No mechanism has yet been discovered for closing the gate: there are no traces of sockets for door posts, for instance, like those found in cities in southeast Anatolian and Mesopotamian cities. A wall of similar masonry has been excavated on the north side of the city, and might belong to another gate facing the Hermus plain.12

Paradoxically, the fortification owes its remarkable preservation to its own destruction. After the Persian capture of Sardis, the fortification was deliberately demolished, but the bricky debris from the upper part buried the lower, thus preserving it from erosion and stone-robbing (Cahill, “The Persian Sack of Sardis”).

  • Fig. 8

    Reconstruction of the Lydian Fortification in the mid-6th C. BC, looking east into the city (P.T. Stinson) (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)

  • Fig. 9

    Reconstruction of the Lydian Fortification in the mid-6th C. BC, looking west out of the city (P.T. Stinson) (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)

  • Fig. 10

    Reconstruction drawing of the Lydian fortification, showing hypothetical buildings on top of the fortification. The reconstruction of the sloping earthworks against the outer face of the fortification is out-of-date. (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)

  • Fig. 11

    View of the mudbrick section of the Lydian fortification. In the background, part of the later, stone face is visible. (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)

  • Fig. 12

    Recess in the later, stone rebuilding of the Lydian fortification; skeletons including No. 210, helmet No. 211, and coins Nos. 27, 30, and 31 were found here. (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)

  • Fig. 13

    Glacis, or sloping earthwork, built against the outside of the Lydian fortification, shown in section where it was cut by the Izmir-Ankara Highway in the 1950s (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)

  • Fig. 14

    Section drawing of fortification and sloping glacis (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)

  • Fig. 15

    Reconstruction drawing of fallen and burned shutters or doors belonging to the fortification (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)

  • Fig. 16

    Burned corridor or stairs within the Lydian mudbrick fortification, perhaps leading to the top of the wall (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)

  • Fig. 17

    Gate in the Lydian fortification (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)

  • Fig. 18

    Detail of masonry of gate in the Lydian fortification, with masons’ marks (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)

The Lower City Within the Walls

The layout of Lydian Sardis is much less well known than that of many contemporary cities, in part because it is so deeply buried beneath later ruins, and in part because it seems to be quite different from its neighbors, and is therefore unpredictable.

The slopes below the acropolis were developed in a series of monumental terraces. These structures were probably not defensive in nature, although they almost certainly limited access to these special and probably elite regions of the site. Rather, they served to enclose and regularize great regions of the city, developing and emphasizing the rugged natural topography, echoing the vertical cliffs of the acropolis above, and probably creating restricted regions that reflected the status and functions of these areas (Fig. 19).

Two of these terraces have been partly excavated: the so-called “Byzantine Fortress,” or ByzFort (a misleading name given by early researchers), and “Field 49” to its east. The terrace wall on ByzFort, made of white limestone blocks, originally stood over 10 m high and 150 m long (Figs. 20, 21, 22 23). The high quality of the masonry, built from carefully worked blocks fitted closely without mortar, even in the buried foundations of the building, perfectly leveled and with right-angle corners, attest to the skill of Lydian masons, and help identify this terrace as an especially prestigious area.13

The limestone terrace walls probably date to just before the middle of the sixth century BC, during the reign of Croesus; but there were certainly buildings, and probably monumental terraces, before this. At least three periods of occupation have been discerned. The painted dishes Nos. 92 and 93 are two of a large group of finely decorated stemmed dishes and jars, mostly found in a collapsed cellar on top of the hill (Figs. 24, 25, 26, 27). These unusually large and fine dishes probably date to the middle or third quarter of the seventh century BC, during the reign of Gyges or one of his successors, almost a century earlier than the limestone terrace. During the first half of the sixth century BC, at least four buildings roofed and decorated with architectural terracottas similar to Nos. 57, 58, and 59 stood on the terrace; fragments of their roof tiles and decorative plaques were discarded in the fill of the new terrace when the buildings were destroyed. A small but fine marble stylobate with marble and sandstone paving probably belongs with this phase, and is appropriate for a pavilion or other small building.14 Other, massive foundations belonging to this or another, slightly earlier phase were uncovered as well. About the buildings that crowned the final, limestone terrace we know little, as they were apparently destroyed by later, Roman construction.

A second terrace, Field 49, is less thoroughly explored than the first. A retaining wall built of enormous polygonal boulders retained the front of the hill (Figs. 28, 29 - 30); this probably dates to the later seventh century BC. This continues around the west slope of the hill and probably joined with the terrace wall of ByzFort. On the west slope, a second phase of the Lydian terrace wall is preserved, built of well-cut limestone blocks (although not as carefully cut as those of ByzFort; Figs. 30, 31). This terrace was repeatedly rebuilt in the Roman and late Roman periods, and must have stayed in use for almost a millennium.

Just what these terraces were used for is still uncertain, as the Lydian remains on the summit of ByzFort have been badly damaged by later building, while the summit of Field 49 remains unexcavated. One possibility is that they were the site of one or more palace complexes, as was proposed over thirty years ago by Prof. G.M.A. Hanfmann, the founder of the Sardis Expedition.15 The palace of Croesus, according to ancient authors, was built of mudbrick, and was visible from (or perhaps on?) the acropolis, nearby to the Temple of Zeus; it was later converted into a gerousia, or meeting-house for the city’s elders. The location of these terraces in the center of the city, raised high above the plain but not as high as the acropolis, and their construction, emphasizing and exaggerating the natural elevation, are both perfectly appropriate for palaces. Prof. Hanfmann suggested that there may, indeed, have been more than one palace, one in the lower city, and the other on the acropolis, perhaps supported by the limestone terrace walls there.

The theater, baths, temples, gymnasia, and other public buildings known at Sardis from archaeological or literary evidence all date to much later than the Lydian period. Perhaps primarily because so little of the city within the walls has been excavated to early levels, other public buildings of the Lydian period within the walls have yet to be discovered.

  • Fig. 19

    Terraces on lower slopes of the Acropolis, in central Sardis; reconstructed view looking south (P.T. Stinson) (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)

  • Fig. 20

    Corner of the terrace wall on ByzFort (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)

  • Fig. 21

    Lydian terrace wall at sector ByzFort, Trench 16-17 (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)

  • Fig. 22

    Limestone masonry of the terrace wall on ByzFort (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)

  • Fig. 23

    Elevation drawing of terrace on ByzFort, showing surviving limestone terrace wall (below) and features on top of hill, looking east (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)

  • Fig. 24

    View of the summit of ByzFort, showing the collapsed mudbrick wall of the cellar and broken pottery below. The stemmed dishes Nos. 92-93 were found fallen into this cellar. (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)

  • Fig. 25

    Stemmed dish from ByzFort, No. 92 (Courtesy of the Vedat Nedim Tör Museum, Istanbul)

  • Fig. 26

    Stemmed dish from ByzFort, No. 93 (Courtesy of the Vedat Nedim Tör Museum, Istanbul)

  • Fig. 27

    Drawing of restored stemmed dishes from ByzFort, including Nos. 92-93 (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)

  • Fig. 28

    View of sector Field 49 showing terrace wall (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)

  • Fig. 29

    Boulder terrace wall on the north slope of sector Field 49 (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)

  • Fig. 30

    Lydian terrace walls on the west slope of sector Field 49. Below, the early, seventh century boulder wall; built on top of this is the later limestone wall, dating to the first half of the 6th C. BC. (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)

  • Fig. 31

    Elevation drawing of Lydian terrace walls on the west slope of Field 49 (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)

Lydian Houses

In addition to the civic, royal, and other monumental buildings of Sardis, excavation has revealed the houses of ordinary Lydians, with their everyday equipment for cooking, eating, drinking, weaving, and other household activities and industries. Houses or parts of houses have been excavated both inside and outside the city walls, and both in the center and near the edges of the fortified area, allowing a glimpse of the diversity of Lydian habitation.

Some of these Lydian houses seem to be single-room constructions, such as the seventh-century buildings in sector HoB (Fig. 32). These have been described as a Lydian bazaar or market, implying a commercial function, but the contents of these buildings, such as plain and cooking pottery, loom weights, and other household items, suggest that they may also have been residences. Indeed, we should beware of applying a modern distinction between residential and commercial/industrial spaces to antiquity. In most cases, people worked in their houses rather than in separate industrial workshops, and spaces devoted to light industry and trade are common in residential buildings at Sardis and elsewhere.16 This district, located outside the walls of the city, may have had a more pronounced commercial character than houses within the walls, but that remains to be proven. Later buildings at sector HoB, of the sixth century BC, are smaller and simpler in character. Nevertheless, they contained some of the most beautiful objects from Sardis, such as the Orientalizing lebes No. 90, the stemmed dish with Orientalizing decoration No. 36, the Bird Bowl No. 101, the unfinished bridle attachment in the form of a wild goat No. 49, bone chapes Nos. 54 and 55, a number of the ritual dinners such as Nos. 38, 39, 40, and 41, and a wealth of other material.17 Likewise, the industrial gold refinery in sector PN was probably situated among domestic and religious structures (Greenewalt, “Gold and Silver Refining at Sardis”). Sacred or religious activity in sectors HoB and PN included many of the ritual “puppy dinners” (Nos. 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, and 46; Greenewalt, “The Gods of Lydia”).

Within the city walls, only parts of houses have been excavated, but the Persian destruction left these houses full of artifacts, and the excellent preservation of their architecture and contents gives an unusually detailed look at the daily lives of ordinary Lydians in the reign of Croesus. Unlike the single-room houses in HoB, these houses seem to have consisted of a series of specialized rooms arranged around an open courtyard, with different spaces for cooking and for manufacture, but other interpretations of the remains are possible (Figs. 33, 34, 35). The walls were made from mudbrick on stone foundations. The floors in most houses were simply earth, but one room in a house near the city center (under the later theater) had a stone-paved floor with a limestone column, and this may reflect a more affluent quarter here (Figs. 36, 37). Rooms were lit by narrow slit windows in the mudbrick, two of which survive in one room, but most of the walls are not preserved this high. Most houses would have had roofs thatched with reeds, as described by Herodotus (5.101); tiled roofs like Nos. 60 and 59 would have been far too expensive for ordinary citizens, and were probably largely restricted to elite, royal, and religious buildings (Ateşlier, “Lydian Architectural Terracottas”).18

Houses may have had a number of cooking areas, perhaps used for different kinds of cooking, or in different seasons (see Greenewalt, “Bon Appetit”). Cooking implements seem to be fairly standardized: globular cooking pots with high-swung handles (Nos. 61, 62, 63, 64) were set on cooking stands; these could then be placed on the hearth and filled with charcoal (Figs. 38, 39). “Breadtrays,” flat trays of very coarse ceramic, were probably used to bake breads and perhaps other types of food. Other cooking implements familiar to the modern cook include strainers (No. 65), mortars and pestles (No. 67), and iron graters (No. 68). Many houses had iron spits for roasting meat (Fig. 40). These seem much more common in Lydian houses than in those of contemporary Greeks, perhaps suggesting that the Lydians ate more meat than their neighbors, but the most common foodstuffs were probably cereals and vegetables, including barley, chickpeas, wheat, and garlic, the burned remains of which were found in many of the houses (No. 69; Greenewalt, “Bon Appetit”).

Before the invention of more sophisticated machines such as the rotary, animal- or water-driven mill, grinding grain into meal or flour would have been a tedious task, using simple hand querns, which are found in some numbers in most houses. Modern experiments show how time-consuming this was, and analysis of ancient skeletons reveals the adverse effects the constant labor had on women. Smaller grinders like No. 67 might have been used for pounding and grinding nuts, vegetables, and other foods, rather than the bulkier grains like barley and wheat.

Eating and drinking vessels are most common in ceramics, although some Lydians could probably afford metal vessels, such as are found in high-status Lydian tombs (Baughan, “Lydian Burial Customs” and Özgen, “Lydian Treasure”). Most ceramic vessels were painted in simple patterns; beautiful Orientalizing vases such as Nos. 71, 90, and 91, and others are the exception (see Greenewalt, “Lydian Pottery”). Plates are common, often with tall stems (stemmed dishes or “fruitstands”), perhaps to allow the eater to hold the plate with one hand while eating with the other. Catalog numbers 82, 83, and 84 come from a group of twenty-three almost identical stemmed dishes found piled on the floor of a room (Figs. 41, 42). Most of these bear graffiti, perhaps marks of ownership (cf. the marks on silver phialai from Ikiztepe, Özgen, “Lydian Treasure”). For mixing and pouring wine, the Lydians of the sixth century BC adopted a number of Greek shapes, such as the column krater (No. 73), the lebes (Nos. 90, 71), and different forms of jugs or oinochoai (Nos. 74, 75, 76). Cups such as skyphoi and kantharoi are likewise probably derived from Greek types (Nos. 77, 78, 79, 80, 81), and many houses contained imported pottery from Greek cities in Anatolia, the islands, or the mainland (e.g. Nos. 102, 103). The houses contained a number of special drinking vessels as well, such as the two spouted vessels (Nos. 70, 86) in the shape of a duck and a boat. Such vessels with sipping spouts are more common in Phrygian pottery, and were associated by the Greeks with drinking beer rather than wine.19 It does not necessarily follow that these unusual vessels were primarily used for drinking beer, however.

Other household tasks included weaving, for which the Lydians were famous—indeed, the Lydian queen Arachne was said to have invented weaving. Most houses contained loom weights of unfired clay, spindle whorls, and other weaving equipment (Fig. 44). The perfumes and unguents for which the Lydians were also famous were not restricted to the elite, but containers for both local unguents (lydions, askoi, and similar vessels) and imported perfumes, such as aryballoi from Corinth, are found commonly in even fairly modest houses. A group of local and imported unguent vessels was found in a tight cluster with small items of jewelry, faience, knucklebones (astragaloi, used as gaming pieces like dice), and other objects on the floor of a house; they were perhaps stored in a wooden box, which burned or decayed (Nos. 96, 97, 98, 99, 100, 137, 138; Figs. 44, 45; Greenewalt, “Lydian Cosmetics”).

Finally, like houses outside the city walls, some of these houses included industrial areas. Notable among these is a glass workshop included in one house (Fig. 34).20

  • Fig. 32

    Plan of sector HoB, Lydian Level 2 (Houses?) (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)

  • Fig. 33

    Plan of houses in sector MMS, ca. 550 BC (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)

  • Fig. 34

    View of Lydian houses in sector MMS (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)

  • Fig. 35

    Lydian houses in MMS-I, from above (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)

  • Fig. 36

    Plan of part of a Lydian house in central Sardis, under the later Hellenistic and Roman theater (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)

  • Fig. 37

    View of two rooms of a Lydian house under the theater (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)

  • Fig. 38

    Cooking pots and stands, in situ in Lydian house in sector MMS; partial skeleton of one of the inhabitants to the left. (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)

  • Fig. 39

    Cooking pots and stands from a Lydian house, reconstructed (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)

  • Fig. 40

    Iron spits from Lydian house in MMS-I (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)

  • Fig. 41

    Pile of 23 stemmed dishes as found on the floor of a house, including Nos. 83, 84, 85 (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)

  • Fig. 42

    Pile of 23 stemmed dishes found on the floor of a house, including Nos. 83-85, restored (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)

  • Fig. 44

    Collection of unguent containers (lydions, Corinthian aryballoi, etc.), jewelry, knucklebones (astragaloi), and other personal items, including Nos. 97-100, 137-138, as found in situ, perhaps originally stored in a wooden box (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)

  • Fig. 45

    Collection of unguent containers, jewelry, knucklebones, and other personal items, restored (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)

Extramural Sanctuaries and Habitation

Sardis did not end at its fortifications. Occupation spread far beyond the walls, extending far up and down the Pactolus River, including an area of gold refinery with a small altar of Cybele (Greenewalt, “Gold and Silver Refining at Sardis”), and other excavated sectors including PC and HoB (Fig. 1). Lydian settlement continued to at least 670 m north of the former Izmir-Ankara highway, and at least 1100 m south of the highway, around the sanctuary of Artemis.21 The remains of houses are found in the foothills both east and west of the Pactolus Stream. Scattered settlements of uncertain date are located in the hills just south of the acropolis, while further from the city, satellite communities were probably located on the slopes of the so-called Necropolis Hill west of Sardis and in the foothills of the Tmolus.22

Tombs and tumuli surrounding the city are among the most numerous and easily recognizable monuments of the region around the city (Fig. 1). Rock-cut chambers, tumuli, sarcophagi, cists, and other types of burial were used over and over through the generations (Baughan, “Lydian Burial Customs”).

A number of sanctuaries were located outside the city walls in the Lydian and later periods (see Greenewalt, “Gods of Lydia”). A sanctuary of Cybele, the Mother of the Gods, is known from literary sources as one of the most important sanctuaries in Sardis. In 499 BC, the Ionian Greeks revolted against the Persian satraps, and attacked and burned Sardis, including the sanctuary (hieron, not necessarily a temple) of “Kybebe, the goddess of that country” (Herodotus, 5.101). The destruction of this sanctuary was one pretense for the burning of the acropolis of Athens and other Greek sanctuaries during the Persian Wars.23 After the wars the Greek general Themistocles, now exiled from Athens, took refuge with his former enemies and visited the sanctuary of the Mother at Sardis. He saw there a statue that he himself had dedicated in Athens, and that had been captured and rededicated in Sardis by the Persians, and he asked the Persians to return it to Athens.24

A temple of Cybele is known only from spolia: sculpture and architectural blocks belonging to the temple, reused in the Late Roman Synagogue. Because the blocks were found reused, we do not know where the building was located, but its identification is made certain by a series of royal letters and decrees, dating to 213 BC, concerning the rebuilding of the city after its siege and destruction by Antiochus III in the previous year. One decree specifies that the documents are to be inscribed “on the antae (parastades) of the temple in the sanctuary of the Mother.”25 The temple must be a later rebuilding of that burned in 499 BC, however, to judge from architectural details. Found together with these fragments of the Temple of Cybele were a number of reliefs and sculptures such as the Cybele Monument (No. 34), the Two Goddesses Relief (No. 35), and a number of lions; it seems plausible that all these derive from the same sanctuary of the Mother. Unlike the temple, which is of Classical date, these date to the Lydian and Persian periods; Themistocles himself might have seen the Cybele Monument, No. 34, near his own bronze statue.26

Another extramural shrine is the sanctuary of Artemis (see Yegül, “The Temple of Artemis”). This was located about 900 m south of the city, nestled in a broad valley next to the Pactolus River. Although one might suspect that the cult of Artemis was already active in the Lydian period when, for instance, King Croesus dedicated columns of the temple of the related cult of Artemis at Ephesus (see Kerschner, “The Lydians and their Ionian and Aiolian Neighbors”), there is at present surprisingly little archaeological evidence for this cult at Sardis before the second half of the sixth century BC. No architecture earlier than second half of the sixth century BC, after the Persian conquest, has been uncovered yet in the sanctuary of Artemis; and the temple now visible was not begun until the Hellenistic period.27

Another possible sanctuary of Lydian date is located about 2 km northwest of the city at a site of Dedemezarı, where a relief of a goddess in a naiskos and an Archaic volute, perhaps from an altar, were discovered (Fig. 1).28 The site is unexcavated and the deity to whom the sanctuary was dedicated remains unknown. Finally, in the Roman period, a sanctuary of Demeter Karpophoros was probably located some 700 m outside the city walls, in the foothills of the Necropolis Hill.29 Other sanctuaries no doubt wait to be discovered.

  • Fig. 1

    Map of Sardis and environs, showing the hypothetical extent of occupation in the Lydian period, and distribution of tombs and other extramural sites (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)

Notes