Report 8: Ordinary Lydians at Home: The Lydian Trenches of the House of Bronzes and Pactolus Cliff at Sardis (2021)

by Andrew Ramage, Nancy H. Ramage, and Gül Gürtekin Demir

Authors’ Preface

Author’s Preface

This book discusses the stratigraphy and objects from two areas of ancient Sardis where Lydian material was found. The first is the “Lydian Trench of the House of Bronzes,” so called because of the bronze vessels found in the Late Roman house just to the north of the sector under discussion in Part I. The material presented here comes from the Lydian periods that predate the Roman house, some by more than a thousand years. The second sector, discussed in Part II, is called “Pactolus Cliff,” a term that describes its location on a bluff by the Pactolus River.

The responsibility for publishing an account of the excavations in the sector referred to as HoB (for “House of Bronzes”) fell to Andrew Ramage after the death of Gustavus F. Swift, Jr., the principal excavator of the trench between 1960 and 1970. Ramage had worked at HoB with Gus Swift for two seasons: in 1965 as an occasional helper, to relieve him for his administrative duties and to aid in sorting pottery; and in 1966 as a full-time assistant. In that season, Swift generously shared his responsibilities with Ramage, and they took turns day by day in supervising the actual excavation and working with the finds at the trench. Of course there was a great deal of discussion; Swift kept a watchful eye on his new assistant and patiently explained what he had learned over his years of working in the Lydian levels. After this apprenticeship, so to speak, Ramage was transferred the following year to work in the sector Pactolus North (see Fig. 2.2: no. 10), another area of Lydian occupation, and did not excavate again at HoB.

Nancy Ramage [then Nancy Hirschland] also occasionally worked as an assistant to Swift at the Lydian Trench site at HoB over three summers, 1964 to 1966, when she wasn’t drawing the objects from there and elsewhere as the excavation draftsman. She also had the memorable experience of traveling with Swift from Istanbul to Sardis when she arrived there for the first time. She sat in his Land Rover, on a distinctly uncomfortable seat, for eight or ten hours at a time, and shared with him the excitement of her first exposure to the Hermus Valley and the beauty of the Lydian landscape. In that first year, 1964, he became a great friend, not only in the trenches of HoB, but also sitting on the terrace while he smoked cigarettes and told her stories of his earlier travels and excavations.

After working with Swift at HoB,Andrew Ramage gained additional experience over several seasons at Pactolus North (so called because it was north of Pactolus Cliff), where he dealt with Lydian artifacts and architectural remains. This may explain why Professor George M. A. Hanfmann, director of the Sardis Expedition, invited him to take on the task of publishing the results of the excavations at HoB after Swift’s death in 1976. Furthermore, Ramage was familiar with Swift’s manner of recording in the fieldbooks, his way of excavating, and his method of describing Lydian pottery.

Nancy Ramage, who was asked by Hanfmann to take on the job of publishing sector PC, did not have the opportunity to work there because the site had fallen in and had been washed away by the rains and the river before she arrived at Sardis. Because she never worked with the excavator, Mario Del Chiaro, she found it challenging to try to determine as clearly as possible what the stratigraphy had been, and to reconstruct the Lydian remains in this elusive site.

We are deeply indebted to the field directors of the Sardis Expedition over the years: first, George M. A. Hanfmann, who invited Nancy [Hirschland] and then Andrew Ramage (1964 and 1965 respectively) to join the Sardis team and who mentored us as graduate students at Harvard University; then Crawford H. Greenewalt, jr., who as the succeeding field director of the excavations, and as an expert in Lydian pottery himself, supported us in our ongoing work, and collaborated with Andrew Ramage, who was by then one of the associate field directors of the dig; and finally Nicholas D. Cahill, who enabled us to finish this project over the following years, and helped enormously with his great knowledge and many probing questions that undoubtedly made the volume a better product.

The anonymous reader, who eventually revealed herself to us, was an enormously knowledgeable, supportive, and sensitive colleague, and an indispensable contributor to this book. Elspeth Dusinberre must have put everything aside to read the text carefully and swiftly when we needed her. Her observations have hugely improved the book (but any errors remain our own). We are deeply indebted to her, and offer our heartfelt thanks for the many ways in which she enhanced these volumes.

Bahadır Yıldırım and Elizabeth Gombosi were always there when we needed them. Among the many other friends and colleagues over the years who in different ways supported us in this work are Andrea Berlin, Jennifer Clarvoe, Suna Güven, Edward C. Hirschland, Theresa Huntsman, Peter Kuniholm, Christina Luke, Kathleen Lynch, Joan Ramage Macdonald, Carol Mattusch, Recep Meriç, Joan R. Mertens, David Mitten, Michael Morris, Coşkun Özgünel, Michael Ramage, Marcus Rautman, Lynn Roller, Christopher Roosevelt, Hugh Sackett, Kenneth Sams, Tony Sigel, and Teoman Yalçınkaya; and more recently, Nezih Aytaçlar, Ümit Güngör, Michael Kerschner, and Penelope Mountjoy, who all helped on dating the pottery. Gül Gürtekin-Demir, who has been a member of the Sardis Expedition since 1991, was brought on board because of her great knowledge of Archaic pottery; Andrew and Nancy Ramage are so pleased that she became our collaborator.

Editors Jane Ayer Scott and Katherine Kiefer were always highly supportive over many years; and more recently, Brianna Bricker and Kerri Cox Sullivan have been truly indispensable in the final push to finish these volumes. To these two we offer warmest thanks for their intelligent collegiality, caring attention to detail, and unwavering patience with our endless requests. Brianna Bricker also served as architect for many years, and helped to design the book and to bring the plans and illustrations to their final form—no mean accomplishment. We are deeply grateful.

Those who recorded the finds in more recent years were guided by the colossal accomplishments of Ilse Hanfmann, the recorder from 1958 to 1976. Among her early assistants were Alice and young Eleanor Swift, who remember washing potsherds from HoB when they were teenagers. Mrs. Hanfmann was followed by many others, of whom we would like to single out particularly Salpi Bocchieriyan, Frances Gallart Marqués, and Jessica Plant. In the long list of those who served as assistant recorders are Lenore Keene Congdon, Patricia Erhart, Elaine Kohler, Susan Langdon, Christina Luke, William Mierse, Richard Neer, Alice Swift, Eleanor Swift, and Katherine Welch.

Among the many conservators who put pots together and performed miracles of restoration was that most distinguished of teachers and experts, and a great friend, Lawrence J. Majewski; as well as Harriet Beaubien, Brian Castriota, Carlie Cleveland, Emily Frank, Lisa Goldberg, Ann Heywood, Jennifer Kim, Hande Kökten, Stephen Koob, Henry Lie, Evelyn Mayberger, Jessica Pace, Kent Severson, Jennifer Sherman, Tony Sigel, Jack Soultanian, Jr., Richard Stone, Isabelle Tokumaru, and many others.

A long string of photographers recorded on film and then digitally the many thousands of objects catalogued from sectors HoB and PC. We would like to thank those recent photographers who worked on preparing this material for publication, including Sara Champlin and Jivan Güner. We especially thank Elizabeth Gombosi, Douglas Nickel, and Stephen Shipps for their tireless and outstanding photographs over many seasons.

Catherine S. Alexander’s superb drawings have enriched this publication immeasurably. Her knowledge and intuition have materially improved the book, not only by her drawing skills, but also by her observations in the field and her reconstructions of obscure fragments that help to make them understandable. In the later stages of the book, Rana Irmak Aksoy used her expertise to add texture and schematic coloration to show slip and paint on hundreds of Lydian pots, thus making the drawings more instructive. We again offer our wholehearted thanks; LauraLee Brott drew the maps; and among the other draftsmen who worked on HoB and PC were Güven Bakır, Elaine Gazda, Nancy Ramage, Elizabeth Wahle, and Fikret Yegül.

Lauren DiSalvo, while still a graduate student at the University of Missouri, took on the job, along with Nancy Ramage, of helping to write the catalogue descriptions of the earlier HoB material. Lauren was a pleasure to work with and made an enormous contribution to these volumes.

We are, furthermore, deeply grateful to the friends who contributed to Sardis in order to enable the dig to carry on its work in HoB, PC, and elsewhere. Among them were Alice Swift Riginos, Nanette Rodney Kelekian, Carolyn and Harvey Sampson, Valerie Smallwood, Eleanor Swift, and Genevieve and Richard Tucker.


Whereas Andrew Ramage learned a great deal from Gus Swift, this knowledge in turn was extremely helpful to Nancy Ramage and to Gül Gürtekin-Demir, both of whom are indebted to Gus and Andrew for passing on their understanding of Lydian pottery and stratigraphy. We thus offer this account as a tribute to the pioneering efforts of Gustavus F. Swift, Jr., a friend and mentor who was not able to bring the results of his work to completion.

  • Fig. 2.2

    Urban plan of Sardis. Sector HoB appears at no. 4, and sector PC at no. 13. (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)