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

by Andrew Ramage and Nancy H. Ramage

Chapter 7. Lydian I (Late Seventh and Early Sixth Centuries B.C.)


Lydian I stretches from the last quarter of the seventh century to the destruction of Sardis by the Persians in the mid-sixth century B.C. It was during this period that the great city wall was built just to the east of sector HoB, and it is conceivable, indeed likely, that the construction activity and the huge operations needed to build both the stone socle and the mudbrick wall were responsible for limiting activity in this area at the beginning of the sixth century. In Lydian II there had been no formal wall or limit to the city, but with the building of an official boundary in ca. 600 B.C., the community in HoB would have found itself on the outside of the defensible circuit, and thus in a less desirable place to live. When all the structures and building debris over the area of HoB itself are taken into account, it seems clear that there was a large area of sparse occupation in this part of the site from the late seventh to the middle of the sixth century.

Interestingly, we found no evidence of the great conflagration caused by the Persian attack that destroyed the reign of Croesus and brought an end to the Lydian kingdom. This event has been reported in the sources1 and documented in the archaeological investigations of the city wall and in the domestic remains explored just to the east of it (see Fig. 2.2).2 The wall itself is severely burned in places,3 and smaller structures on top of the wall undoubtedly were destroyed in the fire, but most of the brick fall from the upper wall was not burned and charcoal was found only in the rocky layers below the brick fall on the east side. No sign of the burning shows on the west side next to the Lydian Trench of HoB. Presumably there was nothing much flammable on the outside of the wall (the west side, where HoB is located), and the ground must have been rather bare once the wall had been erected.

Naturally enough, the picture of Lydian I is formed from fragments, but much more elegant fragments than those of the previous levels. The period is characterized by the frequent importation of East Greek ceramics from various centers, and by the Lydians’ adaptation of the Wild Goat style into a most colorful style of their own, as described in the pottery summary (see above, pp. 16–17).4 The Sardis Style,” which is a local imitation of Wild Goat, may be the most splendid example of this spirit, but it shows in the more humdrum painted wares too. White stripes, dots, and rosettes become commonplace, and a sheen becomes popular in the increasing use of intentional streaky glaze. In fact, the kinds of pottery favored undergo a change; a much higher proportion of the tableware is painted than previously, sometimes as much as 70 percent. Whether the absolute quantity of pottery used by Lydian households went up is open to discussion, but it is certain that the proportion of Gray Ware is distinctly reduced.

As before, we shall describe the structures, their setting, and the associated artifacts that provide evidence for life in this part of Sardis (Fig. 7.1). Masses of pottery were found at this level, much of it (including ten Lydian lamps, HoB 579) more or less whole, but without associated architecture. Perhaps this is evidence for impermanent structures made of wattle and daub, with lots of finds but little in the way of building remains.

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Lydian Areas beneath the Roman House of Bronzes

The area at the far north of the Lydian Trench gave fragmentary evidence of Lydian buildings because they had to be pursued below the floors of the House of Bronzes itself. The nature of the walls and the finds is exactly like those in the more open area to the south that were not encumbered by Roman remains, but they are not close enough to the other buildings to be fit neatly into the pattern. The rooms that could be reconstructed, and the tantalizing fragments from this area, have therefore been presented separately. It must have been extraordinarily surprising and exciting in the first year of excavation (1958) to find Lydian remains immediately below the Roman walls of the Late Roman House of Bronzes; and it was these that led us to the rest.

The Lydian Shop

About 30 meters to the north of the open areas of HoB,5 in the area directly below the foundations of the Late Roman House of Bronzes (especially in “Area 9”; see Fig. 7.1), a small probe was dug within a Roman space.6 Several Lydian I wall fragments appeared here, and in fact they were the original inspiration for further exploration in what became the main Lydian Trench of HoB. This area was defined by two sections of wall, each about two meters long, that formed a corner;7 and by another small section about 1.5 m to the south.8 The first identifiable, although fragmentary, space was dubbed the “Lydian Shop” because of the nature of the finds associated with a floor deposit at *96.70–96.50. This level for Lydian I is about 2.5 meters lower than the Lydian I level in the main trench of HoB. The reason is that the land slopes here toward the north, so that the same period is found at a lower level.

“Shop” is to be taken in this case to refer more to a workshop or repair shop than to a retail establishment. It is highly likely that broken vases were being restored or given a secondary function in the Lydian Shop during Lydian I. The most telling piece of evidence was the presence of a great many sherds with a series of small holes drilled on either side of joining pieces. In one case (HoB 522), parts of the lead strips commonly used as cramps in repairs remained in the base of the pot. These holes occurred in enough instances to suggest that repair work was actually being carried on in the area. In addition, a group of ten hydria and amphora necks (HoB 524HoB 533) was discovered in one place. The excavator noticed that “the upper parts of the vases remained relatively intact and close to each other, as if they had been standing together, while the lower parts were smashed and sometimes scattered about.”9 However, very few fragments of the lower parts of the pots were found. This would not be surprising if the pots were already broken when they were brought in, and the potter was trimming off what lower parts remained in order to turn the necks into pot stands.10 The same kind of trimmed vessel necks was found in the area south of Building C, from the floor by Hoard A (see pp. 102–104).11 The discovery of ring pot stands, made for this purpose from the beginning (HoB 535, HoB 549), strongly suggests it. These were valuable finds in that they established a special shape that the trimmed hydria necks were trying to imitate (see Fig. 1.2).

Several other items can be included in this refashioning of broken articles, including the stems of four stemmed dishes suitable for funnels or stoppers.12 A stopper is also the most obvious secondary use for the tall, cone-shaped foot of a skyphos (HoB 517) that had been trimmed like the jar necks; it fits extremely well into the mouth of a small lydion (HoB 541) found nearby.13

In addition to the pottery under repair, the ceramic finds from the floor level of the Lydian Shop, or just above it, were mostly local wares, including much of a large Bichrome Myrina amphora with a streaky-glaze band on the belly and ornate neck (HoB 521), and an ovoid lekythos of typical Lydian shape (HoB 520). But important for the dating was an East Greek Wild Goat fragment (HoB 543) that places the establishment’s main period of activity in the late seventh century. On the other hand, it may not have ended so abruptly as the buildings in the main Lydian Trench of HoB, because there is a considerable amount of pottery from the sixth century in the earth disturbed by Hellenistic and Roman construction.

The beginning of industrial activity in this area is likely to have been contemporary with the regularization of the whole complex of HoB in the seventh century, because pots with the characteristics of that earlier period were found below the floor, in association with a fragmentary oven or kiln that had been blackened by fire (Fig. 7.2).14 The oven, at *96.00, was separated from the upper floor by 0.50 m of charcoal and ash, and therefore belongs to an earlier period than the shop itself, undoubtedly to Lydian II. The pottery in the fill between the upper floor and that associated with the oven consisted of many fragments, including Black on Red ware,15 a coarse kitchen pot (HoB 551), a Gray Ware fragment with a silvery wash (HoB 550), and a fragment of a Bichrome bowl decorated with a dark wavy line (HoB 546).

A pit in the northeast corner of the Lydian Shop was dug to *94.8,16 where ashes, bones, and a few fragments of mudbrick were found, as well as pottery consisting mostly of painted fragments in Brown on Buff, Black on Red, and brown, gray, and other monochrome fragments, chiefly flat-bottomed bowls.17 These could well be from Lydian IV or earlier.

It is interesting for the history of urban development at Sardis to see that dense Lydian occupation continued to the north in this period; but any Lydian building beyond the old modern highway has been obscured by the building of the Marble Avenue and the massive foundations of the Bath-Gymnasium structure erected in Roman times.18

The Lydian Room

The Lydian Room, discovered beneath the Roman House of Bronzes in 1959, retained its original descriptive title outside the alphabetical system that was begun in 1960 for the same reason as the Lydian Shop. It too is at some distance from the main concentration of structures in the Lydian Trench and helps to confirm the continued breadth of occupation in the area.

The square room (Fig. 7.3) was missing its southeast corner, but there were otherwise no openings in the walls.19 The socle, up to 0.60 m wide, was preserved for only one or two stones in height (up to 0.20 m at the northeast corner). The overall dimensions were 4.2 × 3.75 m (3.0 × 2.8 m on the interior). Two floor levels were identified within the room: one at *98.60, with traces of burning, representing the final phase of occupation before its destruction, and a second one at a level 0.30 m below that, at *98.30.20 These two floor levels both correspond to our Lydian I on the basis of the pottery.21 Among the finds were a Lydian Orientalizing column krater (HoB 556) and a streaky banded jug with petals on its shoulder (HoB 554), both from outside the room to its west. There was also a Lydian lamp (HoB 558) from south of the room, as well as large quantities of sherds of standard Lydian I shapes and decoration. A Lydian painted sherd with pendent hook decoration, from Lydian II (HoB 560), was found outside the room.

A probe below the Lydian I levels reached a lower occupation level at *96.722 that showed “extensive and violent burning.” It was found under 1.5 m of gravel, suggesting that the excavators had encountered a Lydian III level equivalent to the burned level found all over the Lydian Trench, which was, as here, buried under a thick layer of gravel. The most common pottery from this lower stratum was geometric and monochrome wares, which again suggests Lydian III pottery. On the other hand, the neck and rim of an early North Ionian jug neck of the mid- or third quarter of the seventh century (HoB 557, Lydian II) also turned up here, suggesting that a certain amount of mixing of levels had occurred in the course of excavation. There were no coherent walls at this lower level.

Another test pit23 dug northeast of the Lydian Room, at E3–5, went well below the Lydian III level, with extensive burning, just described. From the pit came a Gray Ware fragment with silvery wash (HoB 561) and a rim of a large painted bowl (HoB 559). Below these were four meters of gravely fill, and below that was 0.70 m of mud and ash (actually more likely charcoal), which contained red and gray monochrome pottery. These finds expand the area for which we can document occupation down to Lydian IV.

From another test trench at roughly E7–10/S55–57,24 farther to the north and east of the test pit just mentioned, came a fragment of a Late Protocorinthian kotyle (HoB 572) and a Gray Ware jar (HoB 571), as well as a heavily burned Black on Red sherd (HoB 566).

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East End

Building A

Building A is a nearly square structure,25 3.5 × 3.0 m (interior 2.50 × 2.40 m), with walls about 0.40 m thick, preserved to a height of about 0.20 m above floor level (Figs. 7.4, 7.5). The dimensions are rather small for an isolated structure, and one wonders whether it could have been part of a group of rooms composed of the scraps of walls found nearby (see Fig. 7.1), or whether it was, perhaps, a semi-basement structure as was found at Pactolus North or Northeast Wadi.26 Additional stones were found along both the east and west walls, but their purpose is unclear. In the wall on the north side there had likely been a door. The size of the building might have sufficed for a small shop.

Inside the structure were found many fragments of breadtray and numerous potsherds.27 Most of these were streaked, with other fragments of Bichrome, Black on Red, Waveline, and plain buff pottery. A Lydian cooking pot, burned black, was found here (HoB 580), as well as several imported pieces of East Greek pottery: one with a lion among rosettes (HoB 584); and the rotelle and lip of a jug (HoB 576). Fragments of a Wild Goat–style two-handled plate (HoB 581), found in the upper filling of the wall, are probably local, and may be dated 620–600 B.C.28

From this same floor (*99.40–99.30) came a pebble polisher, a pot handle that had also been used as a polisher, and two cut-down pieces of pottery that may have been used as pottery scrapers,29 as well as lumps of slag.

Under that floor level was a layer of ash and then a second floor with characteristically earlier fragments of pottery and some tiles lying against the inside wall. Most of the sherds from this level were plain or streaked, and there were many pithos fragments, a few cooking pots, and pieces of Gray Ware. From one area inside the building, presumably at the lowest level, the pottery finds were 80 percent Gray Ware and the rest plain buff. It is not improbable that these fragments were all from two pots and should not carry the implication of a much earlier date because of the high proportion of Gray Ware.

Under the lower floor, four vessels resting on a clay sur-face probably indicate a floor at *98.90. Among the vessels are parts of two Waveline hydriai (HoB 577, HoB 578) as well as fragments of a Bichrome Lydian skyphos (HoB 574) and a nearly complete streaked jug (HoB 575). Not far away, at *99.0, was found a Middle or Late Corinthian warrior aryballos fragment (HoB 586) and 0.20 m below that, the neck and rim of an Early Corinthian alabastron (HoB 585) and the rim of an Ionian cup (HoB 582). This group of pottery from under the lower floor is explained as habitation debris from an early phase of Lydian I.

Several domestic items came from the area just outside Building A, including a bronze ornament (HoB 588). Also from outside the building, and not clearly associated with it, was a group of ten Lydian lamps (HoB 579). Between Buildings A and B,30 a bronze fibula (HoB 589) came from the gravel in a context also containing ten pieces of worked bone, which is an unusually high number. There was also an unfinished bone seal (HoB 591) found in the vicinity, while several other bone items at different stages of manufacture came from Building A (HoB 590, HoB 593), including part of a thin sheet of bone that served as a blank from which small disks (diameter 0.015 m) had been cut (HoB 592). Additional significance should be attached to it in terms of craft activity, because of the several other pieces of worked bone that came from outside Building A, and because both finished and unfinished bone pins and an antler were found nearby in Building B (HoB 606HoB 610). These pieces, collectively, make a compelling case for a bone-working establishment.

Sector HoB produced a certain number of sherds postdating the mid-sixth century B.C. and the sack of Sardis by Cyrus. The lack of a distinctive destruction level tied to that event, such as is found at the lower—Lydian III—level, has been noted. The possibility that some of the buildings continued in use into the Persian period is supported by the presence of a fragment of an Attic black-figure cup (HoB 583) attributed to the Leafless Group, found within the west wall of Building A and dated to about 500.31 This was thought by the excavator to be intrusive, but it may instead be a hint that this and perhaps other buildings remained in use when much of the core of the city had been abandoned.32

Building B

Just to the northwest of Building A33 was the square and slightly larger Building B (Fig. 7.6).34 It had a door opening in the north wall that went to the very corner—a characteristic found also in the “Lydian Room” and in Building G. Cobblestones were set outside the north wall. Inside the building, set against the west wall, was a low stone bench or platform.

Several pot fragments lay on the floor,35 especially many pieces of Lydian plain red ware, including part of the rim of a vessel with a spool handle (HoB 599) and another decorated with indentations (HoB 598). Other pieces found on the floor were a few fragments of cooking pots, Gray Ware, Black on Red, Bichrome, and streaked pottery, as well as much mudbrick, roof tiles (or more likely breadtray?), and animal bones. Part of a bowl with pendent hook decoration was found nearby (HoB 595).

Elsewhere on the floor of this room were two complete bone pins that had been sharpened to a point at one end and given an irregularly widened head (HoB 608, HoB 609). Two others like them were found in close proximity at the same level, but those were outside the building on the east side (HoB 606, HoB 607). As already noted, other bone items had been found also in and around Building A. The numbers are small but this is an unusually close grouping of similar articles.

A few pieces of worked bone from the same area show that there was a workshop that produced the pins, because several of the pieces were sufficiently worked for the intended final shape to be apparent. Three pieces found together show several stages of the work, from raw material to roughed out blank (Fig. 7.7). They show obvious saw marks and some knife cuts, as well as unworked areas of the bone. Overall we found that a considerable collection of faceted shank pins had been preserved in this part of the trench, which makes a compelling argument for manufacture on the spot.

Any or all of the buildings and spaces here might have served for manufacture. In general the varieties of pins closely follow the types familiar from Ephesus,36 as do many of the small finds from Sardis, giving material dimension, as it were, to the close political, religious, and economic ties attested in the documentary sources.

At the southeast corner of Building B, below the Lydian I wall, a narrow wall made of small stones was preserved to a height of 0.30 m and extended two meters toward the east. This wall was earlier than Building B since it originates from under its corner, and should be dated to the Lydian II period. At the southwest corner of B, the Lydian I south wall continues westward for a short distance and then peters out.

Perhaps the best means of dating Building B is a group of fragments of painted pottery found at the corner of the west wall and at a level just below its base.37 These fragments, from an open vessel (HoB 597), were dated by Greenewalt to the first quarter of the sixth century or shortly after (600–570 B.C.).38 Details of the painting, in what Greenewalt called the Sardis Style,” include charming renditions of a spotted sphinx, a bird, and a grazing goat amid rosettes and other filling ornament. The findspot of this pot, next to the wall on the exterior of Building B, is shown in Swift’s fieldbook sketch (Fig. 7.6) as number 2.

Among those finds below the foundation of the south wall of Building B were several fragments from streaked skyphoi with reserved bands, breadtray, and Waveline jars, as well as three pieces of East Greek pottery, including a skyphos. This last item seems to reflect an earlier phase than the previous pieces but probably not a great deal earlier. A bird bowl rim fragment (HoB 601) found south of Building B at *99.45–98.80 has been dated to the second half of the seventh century, and shows that earlier material can be found in clearly higher and later levels.39 A substantial iron adze, ca. 0.15 m long, was reported from a lower floor explored after the walls of B had been removed.

Other pots and objects of interest were also found outside Building B, but on the same level as the room. To those already listed should be added a large Lydian round-mouthed jug with band handle and streaked paint on the lower body and a polished surface above (HoB 596) and a small fragment of a local Anatolian plate with diamond-shaped crosshatching (HoB 600).

Of particular note is a fragment of a stone jewelry mold, 0.071 × 0.045 m, with cuttings on one side for boat-shaped earrings and on the other for making a ring-shaped object (HoB 602).40 It is quite similar to another found nearby in a context with some Hellenistic pottery,41 but plausibly regarded as archaic Lydian (HoB 603). Two other molds were subsequently found a few meters away at a higher level in the upper fill (HoB 604 and HoB 605). The stone of HoB 602 is unsuitable for direct casting of molten metal, and the molds are more likely to be for making multiple templates for lost wax casting.42 In spite of the difference in level, this group is even more surprising than that of the bone pins, since the use of jewelry molds is so much more specialized. There is little doubt that they are Lydian because of the design of the objects to be produced.

These pieces must be connected with the early industrial activities whose debris was collected beneath the Hellenistic Stone Circle, an area that was also used for manufacturing purposes. In particular they relate to the heavy bronze intaglio die (HoB 734)43 found south of Building C that was used for making ornaments of gold foil, like those discovered in the Basis Hoard of the Foundation Deposit of the Ephesian Artemision.44 Another casting mold for multiple pieces of jewelry is known from sector Pactolus North45 as well as an example from the area of the House of Bronzes itself (HoB 552). That one is unusual in that it was converted from an old pot base that was cut down to a flat, square shape.46

More than half the material from the sandy ground surface outside Building B47 consisted of plain or cooking pots, and the rest included painted pottery, 20 pieces of iron, 20 pieces of mudbrick, and one small section of antler, partly trimmed for processing, perhaps as a tool (HoB 610).

To the northeast of Building B, large numbers of sherds of Buff Ware and cooking pots were found, but relatively fewer pieces of painted ware. One tiny painted fragment was part of a plate painted on the upper side with dark brown over white (HoB 594). Heaps of mudbrick were frequent here, and fragments of a pithos were found nearby just at the edge of Deep Sounding B, which was dug just to the northeast of Building B (see Fig. 2.4). One imagines that a good deal of broken pottery must have been lying around in Lydian streets and open areas in ordinary circumstances, and the plainness of this assemblage adds to the impression of a predominantly working area.

West of Building B was found part of a painted and molded terracotta tile with a broken meander border and part of a scroll pattern (HoB 587).48 Because it is on a larger scale than is usual for sima tiles from Sardis, it may have had a decorative function other than that of a roof tile; its size suggests that it does not belong with any of the nearby buildings.

Fragmentary Walls and Features

The remains of a mudbrick oven at W2.5/S93, just north of B, would be an item of interest, but it is hard to relate it to the buildings nearby. In the area of Buildings A and B many fragmentary sections of walls defy organization. Because these spots are isolated, even though close together, they cannot readily be ordered temporally, or set into subphases of a building or complex.

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Central Area

Building D and Building D Extension

Building D and its associated walls, located about three meters to the west of B (see Fig. 7.4),49 was a much larger and more complicated structure than either A or B. It had more internal features preserved, including two hearths, a storage or refuse pit, and a rectangle of small stones familiar from the buildings of the Lydian II housing complex. Essentially Building D was a simple rectangle of about 10 × 4 m,50 but additional walls attached to it at the north were extensively disturbed and robbed out in the Hellenistic period. This occurred in the course of constructing Building C, as can be seen from actual robbers’ trenches.

Building D’s long axis runs roughly northeast to southwest. Four floors were distinguished: the upper two at *99.38 and *99.00, with fine sand between them; the third at *98.80; and the fourth at *98.60. According to Swift’s report, an eastern wall was found only in fragments, but it must have made a right angle with a south wall, which is about four meters long. The southwest corner is missing; after a gap of about 0.50 m, a western wall picks up and runs for about ten meters, but at a slightly acute angle to the south wall. This western wall (which stood to a height of 0.20 m) is carefully made of small stones with two true faces and a rubble filling, but it has a curious slight bend about halfway along that suggests the possibility that it was not laid all at one time.51

No wall at the north side was ever found, but the west wall at the north end disappears under the much heavier south wall of the Building D Extension and therefore places that western wall in Lydian II. The walls are as early as the contents of the second floor will permit—perhaps late seventh century; certainly the close alignment with Building J suggests that this structure was originally part of the Lydian II area.

The latest, and uppermost, floor covered a rectangular area in the southern half of D, at a level above the surrounding walls, at *99.38 (Fig. 7.8). Mostly painted Lydian sherds, including a red Bichrome oinochoe or amphora fragment with concentric pendent hooks (HoB 622), were found here together with a few pieces of breadtray and a pithos fragment with an incised design (HoB 640). In the earth immediately over the clay floor lay a number of imported pieces, including an East Greek sherd from a white-slipped jug (HoB 638) dating to 620–600 B.C.;52 an Early Corinthian gourd aryballos fragment;53 a Bichrome lebes (HoB 618); five uninventoried Early Corinthian fragments from about 600 B.C.; a “Fikellura” (?) rim,54 a column krater,55 three other kraters,56 and several fragments with Carian graffiti.57

This upper floor is within the area of the walls of D, but does not survive to their inner edges (see Fig. 7.8). Perhaps the floor and the walls were connected, but robbing of the walls destroyed the evidence of that association. In fact the walls are contemporary with the second floor58 but have not been preserved to the level of the upper floor. It may be that the walls still existed at the time the upper floor came into use, probably in the early sixth century. The second floor level was about 0.35 m below the first and was clearly identifiable in both the northern and southern halves of Building D. Fine sand separated the two floors, and some pottery was found here too: good-quality painted Lydian wares, breadtray, pithos fragments, and two pieces of Corinthian pottery (uninventoried); a piece of an East Greek bird bowl; and the lower portion of a fine, locally painted Ephesianizing stemmed dish (HoB 611).59

In Building D and D Extension, many small assemblages of pots, mostly complete or in good condition, have been identified as remnants of “canine ritual dinners,” where some kind of ceremonial meal is thought to have taken place (see also pp. 104–105, floor with puppy burials). The pot assemblage usually consisted of a round-mouthed jug, a small trefoil jug,60 a skyphos, and a shallow dish, with or without a stemmed foot (Fig. 7.9). Together with the pots usually lay an iron knife, and also in the jug were usually found the bones of a juvenile dog (Fig. 7.10). Many of these groups, known as “puppy burials,” were found in what were originally small pits dug into the floor (Fig. 7.11).61

Most of these groupings were found in HoB, a few at PN, and one at PC.62 They attest to the widespread practice of dog sacrifice and the rituals associated with it. There were a total of twenty-eight so-called puppy burial assemblages, of which twelve were found beside the wall of Building D and in the D Extension to its north (see Fig. 7.11), and belong in the later seventh century.63 All puppy burials date between the late seventh and the early or mid-fifth centuries B.C. Five additional similar assemblages were found that lacked a knife or puppy bones. These were categorized as “caches” by Greenewalt, in order to distinguish them from the canine dinners.64

A group of four pots of shapes perhaps related to those of the later puppy burials was found from an earlier context, the Destruction Level of Lydian III (at *97.6–97.4), in the Central Area of HoB. It consisted of a Black on Red stemmed plate (HoB 374), a coarse Gray Ware jug (HoB 377), half of a closed vessel (HoB 375), and a fine Gray Ware round-mouthed jug (HoB 376) (see Figs. 5.15, 5.16). These pots had no knife or bones associated with them, and were rejected by Greenewalt as having an association with the canine ritual dinners or caches; but they make a surprisingly similar group and cause one to wonder if the puppy burials were using a longer tradition of “place settings” than has been acknowledged.65

In the center of Building D (see Figs. 7.4, 7.8) a three-sided rectangular enclosure made of stones faced to the south.66 Like other features of this nature in buildings already seen, this may have served as a kind of closet or storage area. The finds here included many pieces of breadtray and, on the same floor level, among other Lydian pottery, a fragment of a large Bichrome storage jar with geometric decoration (HoB 625). Nearby,67 a hearth made of stones backed onto the east face of the west wall. Again, numerous fragments of breadtray and cooking pots, as well as painted pottery, were found in the area. Just south of the hearth, projecting from the west wall, was a low row of stones that may have served as the basis for a kind of bench or working surface like those noted in Buildings H and K (see pp. 74, 79).

In the southwest corner, a second hearth came to light, together with a nearly complete shallow bowl in coarse cooking ware fabric (HoB 631) and fragments of other cooking pots and breadtray. Among the finer pottery was the base of a Corinthian alabastron (HoB 641), which J. Schaeffer has described as “early in Early Corinthian;”68 and, from nearby, a fragment of a large white-slipped jug or amphora (HoB 623).

In the northern part of D, a circular pit, 0.90 m in diameter and 0.45 m deep, was filled with sand. It produced only three pieces of pottery. Perhaps it was the imprint of a pithos that was transferred elsewhere.

The third floor in D, at *98.9 to *98.7, sloped downward from east to west. Included among the many fragments lying on the floor were the neck and rim of an amphora (HoB 630), unusual both because it was made of Gray Ware, and because it was found upside down on the floor. This argues for it to have been intended for use in that position, probably as a pot stand, and like the others (see pp. 90, 104 and Fig. 1.2), the neck had been purposely trimmed at its base. Also on the floor was a Gray Ware stemmed dish (HoB 629), again upside down; the shoulder of a large Bichrome jug painted with concentric pendent hooks (HoB 620); a red banded stemmed dish fragment (HoB 614); and two rectangular pieces of mudbrick arranged like steps. There were many large pieces of pottery and a considerable number of joins, which suggest that the sherds belong with the floor. Overall, the pottery was about 40 percent Lydian painted (including Bichrome and Waveline fragments), 25 percent Buff Ware, 25 percent Gray Ware, and 10 percent cooking pots and breadtray. Of special interest were nine knucklebones found together (a set?),69 and the body and tail of a painted terracotta bird (?) (HoB 642). There were also fragments of Ionian cups, as well as imitations of them, and East Greek sherds. On the floor in the southwest corner were large numbers of breadtray fragments and typical late seventh-century Lydian wares including Black on Red stemmed dishes and red stemmed dishes with white bands. Surprisingly, 50 percent of the material here was Gray Ware. Also found were two pointed lumps of iron and a piece of a bone pin.70

From the north-central part of the floor, under the rectangular storage area on the floor above, came much Lydian pottery, including two pieces of a Sardis Style” plate that shows a bit of a scale pattern and an indeterminate floral motif or possibly a wing tip from what must have been a large plate (HoB 616).71 Another Orientalizing pot in the local Lydian style is a thymiaterion with charming birds and floral designs (HoB 626). Also found here was a granite saddle quern, a lump of iron, and a bronze pinhead.72

From the northern part of D, where no wall was found, came a fine Black on Red stemmed dish (HoB 633), a Chian amphora (HoB 639), and the shoulder of an East Greek jug (HoB 637), which can be associated with Coldstream’s Bird-Kotyle group. The wide chronological range of some of the finds demonstrates again the continual disturbing of earlier levels, which was noted in connection with the bothroi of Lydian II.73

At the northeastern side of D, where again no wall was found, the fourth floor (at ca. *98.6) was quite clear and was marked by burned patches. Many pieces of pithos and breadtray were found here, and one piece of a plate of Phrygian shape with omega loop handles (HoB 613),74 as well as a black incised sherd (HoB 636); in addition, the top of an Early Corinthian aryballos,75 one piece of the rim of an East Greek skyphos, four pieces of thin-rimmed Ionic cups, and one lump of iron.76

On the southeastern side of D, from just below the lowest of the four floors, a construction that looked like a hearth made with stones on edge was discovered.77 Nearby was a large white Bichrome Waveline amphora with a flat S design on the shoulder (HoB 624), three pieces of East Greek, and the following additional pottery: 70 percent Gray Ware, as well as breadtray and a number of different kinds of Lydian pottery, including a Lydian jar rim with concentric semicircles; a red Bichrome oinochoe or amphora with pendent hooks (HoB 622); and one piece of an Ionian cup. A piece of a stemmed dish in the Ephesianizing style that was like fragments from a bothros east of G (HoB 477) was also found just below the lowest floor level, at *98.50; this, and the other finds from just above, must be from Lydian II.

About three meters to the south of Building D, a damaged but complete ovoid pithos, three-quarters of a meter high, was discovered (HoB 632). It has a small flat base and could not have stood without support. Also of note in association with D was a collection of unfired pyramidal loom weights found over the course of excavating this building (HoB 645).

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South Side

Building E

Building E was situated about five meters south of the southwest corner of D (see Fig. 7.4).78 It was composed of a ring of stones that formed an irregular round structure about 2.50 m in diameter on the exterior, with an opening about 1.0 m wide at the east side. Much of the wall was only one stone thick and one stone high, and no indications of a superstructure survived. Across the middle of the floor79 was a large patch of charcoal ca. 0.50 m across. No obvious explanation of the purpose of E could be determined. A furnace or kiln was suggested, but signs of severe or sustained burning were absent, and the charcoal was too localized and scanty to have been an industrial store.

Within the circle of stones were three complete Lydian lamps80 and part of another, as well as a number of pieces of East Greek pots of the late seventh or early sixth century. The most notable is a rim sherd from a skyphos with part of a bull’s head depicted, painted in a local Wild Goat style81 (HoB 647); it has something in common with Greenewalt’s “Early Fikellura” group, but the drawing is coarser and the paint rather more matte.82 Several pieces in the local tradition were inventoried: the foot and bowl of a small Bichrome stemmed dish (HoB 646), the shoulder and neck of a miniature streaky glazed lekythos with tongues on the shoulder (HoB 648), and a painted handle in the shape of a horn, or perhaps the wingtip for a terracotta sphinx or griffin (HoB 649).

A considerable amount of rubble suitable for wall building was found close by, to the southeast, at about *99.6, but it is unclear if it had belonged to E or to some of the other fragmentary walls not far away. Lydian painted and Buff Wares were undistinguished, and gray and cooking ware were scarce. There were a good many skyphos fragments, and three small lumps of iron.

Building F

About seven meters to the east of Building E between W6–12/S109–117 lay a rectangular structure of about 6.5 × 5.0 m, known as Building F (Fig. 7.12; see Fig. 7.4).83 The northwest corner and much of the north and west walls were missing, but the other corners were intact. Inside was a platform with an elongated stone support, perhaps for clay furnishings. The floor is said to have sloped down from *99.49 at the southeast corner to *99.1 at the northwest. It is otherwise unheard of to find so great a gradient within such a small building without other indications of sagging or slump. A. Ramage suspects that some of the top surface of fallen mudbrick or the clay from a working platform may have been mistaken for floor.

Within the room were some stones indicating foundations for built-in clay furnishings and another three-sided configuration of small stones. An unusually large stone (Fig. 7.12), of the sort that was found in several instances outside a wall to protect it from raging floodwaters (see the discussion of Buildings G, K, and L, pp. 79, 80, and Figs. 6.3 and 6.18), lay at an angle inside the room. This one too might originally have been outside the building, and may have been shifted inside by a rising flood. The fact that the wall beside it had been destroyed supports this hypothesis.

The main floor of this room could be dated by the finds to the last years of the seventh century or the beginning of the sixth. These included a piece of a late seventh-century North Ionian Wild Goat oinochoe with rather worn paint (HoB 666) and a South Ionian fragment (HoB 676), as well as contemporary Lydian Orientalizing pottery. Among them were fragments of a plain buff skyphos with bright orange interior (HoB 672), two (?) Bichrome jugs (HoB 673, HoB 674), a Black on Red oinochoe (HoB 675), and a small Black on Red oinochoe with irregular meander pattern (HoB 677). There were also six unbaked pyramidal loom weights, three spindle whorls, and many pieces of several breadtrays. A partially reworked bone chape (HoB 670), which originally had a relief design in the nomadic Animal Style, was found either just over the floor or just outside the west wall; and a small bone disc or button (HoB 671) with one convex worked face and a hole in the center was found outside.84 These two are stylistically related in that their main decorative motifs, which are incised, are curvilinear and irregular, and quite unlike Greek or Lydian design. The small disc comes from the east side of the north corner, along with a considerable amount of local and imported pottery, some of which belongs in the seventh century. While the bone pieces have artistic and historical interest in their own right, they are additionally significant for confirming the presence of a bone-working establishment in the area and the reuse of what are, perhaps, relics of the Kimmerian destruction of Sardis.85 Another unfinished nomadic-style artifact was found with later pottery, including a fourth-century red-figured lekanis fragment, but at a higher level (*99.8).86

Two pieces of wall precisely aligned with the south wall of F suggest the existence of several Lydian I buildings to the south, and finds from the area indicate that the buildings may have lasted into the Persian era. These walls are close to the south edge of the Lydian Trench, and beyond them the area was occupied by buildings adjoining the Late Roman colonnaded street that runs east–west (see Fig. 7.1); the Lydian levels here were not explored.


A well with a diameter of 0.9 m, at W2.5/S113, is linked to Building F by a substantial but low wall about four meters long (see Fig. 7.4). The top stones were at *99.66, but there was no sign of a curb or formal wellhead. It is not clear when it was first used, because excavation had to be suspended for safety reasons and due to the fact that there was more than a meter of water in the bottom, at about 19 meters below the top. The curtain wall shows that some of its use was contemporary with the occupation of F, but its depth and the fact that it was the only well ever found nearby suggests that its origins are much earlier. Building F seems not to have been in use when the well was filled, but indications of later occupation floors remain in the area to the south, where seventeen catalogued pieces of Attic black-figure and black-glaze were found,87 with a chronological range roughly equivalent to that of the Persian domination.88

Andrea Berlin restudied the material from the well in 2015 and observed that the evidence points to the fact that it was not filled all at once, but over a long period when the Lydian Trench was unoccupied and the well used more or less as a casual dumping ground. She believes this period could have lasted from the mid- to late-fourth century perhaps until the first century B.C.89

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The Western Edge of the Lydian Trench

Buildings M and N

At the westernmost edge of the Lydian Trench, about three meters to the west of the enclosure wall running behind Buildings H and G, between W40/S110–125 at *99.00, were the eastern parts of two additional buildings, Building M being the more southerly, and N just to the north (Fig. 7.13). They make a pair insofar as they are aligned in the same direction and are, apparently, of comparable scale, even if only the ends were visible at the edge of the trench. M is 4.5 m north–south, but only 1.5 m of the east–west walls are preserved. The west wall of N is not preserved, but the position of the east–west walls fixes its length at 3.7 m. The thickness of the walls is comparable, at ca. 0.45, although the north wall of N is somewhat thinner.

Finds from the area were scanty, which is not surprising given the small exposure, but there were enough to connect them with the buildings of Lydian I just to their east. The level of the floors, which lie over about a meter of gravel and sand, confirms this relationship.

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Floors South of Building C

A number of distinct floors lie near each other, just to the south of the later Building C (which falls beyond the scope of this book). Each of these floors has a notable feature that helps to identify it. They are (1) the floor near postholes; (2) the floor by Pot Hoard A and platform; and (3) the floor with puppy burials.

Floor near Postholes

Just to the north of a well-preserved patch of floor at W20–25/S95–100 *98.4 were three postholes in a row (Figs. 7.4, 7.14), about 0.30–0.35 m deep, starting from *98.28, *98.22, and *98.13 respectively. A fourth posthole was a bit out of line, and was much higher up (*99.25); although shown on the plan, it may belong to a later stratum. The floor here was about a meter below the Lydian I remains in this area, and was therefore significantly earlier than Lydian I. It falls between Lydian II and Lydian I. One might assume a building made of reeds or other perishable materials with a light porch supported by flimsy poles. Building J (Lydian II; see Figs. 6.1, 6.25) must have been demolished to make room for a new building of which we now have only this square piece of floor, the postholes, and the pots and other detritus lying about.

The patch of floor had a light socle running roughly north–south for about two meters on its western edge. On the south side was a three-sided boxlike structure opening northward90 that must have been an oven or furnace of the kind familiar as a frequent installation (Fig. 7.15). In its southwestern recess were two pots, a plain Buff Ware bowl with a flat base (HoB 683) and the lower part of a coarse bichrome jug (HoB 682). Directly to the east of the oven was a large pile of breadtray pieces, one on top of the other and set out flat, extending for about two meters (seen at left side of square floor in Figs. 7.14, 7.15). Parts of additional vessels were found on the floor to the north, in particular two sherds from a large plain plate, possibly stemmed (diam. ca. 0.28 m; HoB 680) and an almost complete, simple banded jug with streaky glaze (HoB 681). There was also a large amount of less well preserved pottery from the floor, including Gray and Buff Ware, unusually thin cooking ware, streaked skyphoi, and Black on Red fragments.

Other objects were found above this floor, including a bronze pin, 0.07 m long, with a plain knob for a head, and a bronze cross-shaped object with a hole in the middle (HoB 694), as well as a heavy lump of bronze, ca. 0.02 m in diameter, found at the northern edge, at the level of the wall top (ca. *98.6). A nearly complete imitation Protocorinthian skyphos (HoB 692) came from the east edge at *98.8, 0.2 m above the breadtray and other debris. The skyphos is of a later seventh-century type, with the open rays and dotted metopal arrangement much favored by the Lydians in this period.

Imported pottery from the floor, such as the aryballos with elongated animals (HoB 689), the later form of the bird bowl (HoB 684), and the Ionian cups (HoB 686, HoB 688), suggest a date for the floor in the later seventh century. The date is important because the floor lies directly over the southwest corner of Building J, which has been associated with the Lydian II complex of buildings (see p. 84) that flourished about the middle of the seventh century.


Just to the east of the floor near the postholes, at W18–22/S95–100, several patches of floor (but no evidence of walls) were discovered at different levels within the meter between *99.40 and *98.50 (Fig. 7.16). A considerable number of well-preserved pots was associated with these floors, reminding us of Herodotus’ statement that “They [the Ionians] were prevented from plundering the city by the fact that most of the houses in Sardis were made of reeds, and those made of brick had roofs of reeds.”91 A reed house would leave few remains other than pots on the floor, such as were found here.

Floor by Pot Hoard A and the Platform

A group of whole or partial vessels (HoB 696HoB 715) found at about W21/S99, *99.05, was described by the excavator as “Hoard A.” A floor nearby and slightly higher (floor level *99.45) is probably associated with this assemblage. On this floor, among a few stones and more pieces of breadtray, lay a small ovoid Lydian lekythos (HoB 728; Figs. 7.17, 7.18), complete except for its handle and a few chips out of the lip. Hoard A itself contained many pots (Fig. 7.20).92 Most distinctive in this lot were quite a few jar necks (HoB 702HoB 706 and HoB 711) and 34 loom weights (HoB 716). Loom weights would have been in every house, and could have served the family or might have been a household industry.93 A single loom required about 50 loom weights, and nearly every other excavated Lydian house had many loom weights too.94

Some of the loom weights found here were unfired and made of the same greenish clay that was found in a few lumps at W19.5/S98, at a level a little lower than the *99.45 floor. The finding of the raw material—that is, the greenish clay—close to the finished product, the loom weights, suggests that they were made right here.95 Indications from loom weights found all over the trench confirm that in Lydian times the pyramidal type was frequently made of dried but unfired clay. This contrasts with the practice in the earlier levels, where the hammerhead or spool-like varieties were fired, even if only to a low temperature (see pp. 50–51).96

A number of Waveline hydria or amphora necks, part of Hoard A, were found right by the loom weights and next to the floor (Figs. 7.19, 7.20). The large vessels had been cut down or trimmed from pots that must already have cracked or been broken in the body. One has the suspicion, here as elsewhere, that they were being used for a secondary purpose such as pot stands (see Fig. 1.2) or as holders for separating miscellaneous loose objects on the ground (see on reuse of pots, Chapter 1, p. 4).97

Just to the east of the floor that lay by Pot Hoard A were the remains of an undefined but palpable rectangular platform, identifiable by its many sizeable stones within and on top of the surface (Figs. 7.16, 7.17, 7.18).

Floor with Puppy Burials

A great many whole pots were found on the floor near the curious sets of so-called puppy burials, or more formally, “canine ritual dinners,”98 which are marked on the plan with circles (Fig. 7.17; for full discussion, see under Building D, p. 97). Five other well-preserved pots lay on the *99.4 floor in addition to the puppy burials (Figs. 7.17 and 7.18): two miniature Black on Red stemmed dishes upside down (HoB 720, HoB 721), two oinochoai (HoB 725, HoB 726), and one upright skyphos (HoB 722). They lay in a more or less straight line running east from about W20.75/S96 toward a group of stones set in a rough semicircle and containing a substantial part of a hearth stand (HoB 727 [not shown in sketch]) and some of the cooking pot it was supporting. This is an excellent candidate for a campfire-style hearth in which the stand was set. There were considerable patches of charcoal in this area.

A little northeast of the stones was a substantial pile of breadtray, some pieces lying flat and some on edge. Elsewhere in this area, too, many pieces of breadtray were found on the floor. One might note that breadtray does not lose all its usefulness when broken: its pieces provided convenient, clean, flat areas for work or storage; they could serve as a cutting board or a temporary plate; and they could be put around or over the hearth so long as they were not too small.

An unusual pot was a stemmed dish with a flange and traces of black paint on the foot and in the interior (HoB 719).99 Nearby, about 0.50 m to the west, was a substantial piece of a fine black-glazed Ionian kantharos with offset rim and band handle swinging up from shoulder to lip (HoB 731); and also a highly polished stem of a stemmed dish (HoB 710). Additional imported sherds and associated local material fall within the first half of the sixth century.

On a gravel surface (but not a floor) at W22–24/S89–92 *99.60–99.40 were many fragments of a fine black-polished round-mouthed oinochoe (HoB 732).100

The overall character of the items on these floors south of Building C, including heaps of domestic materials like breadtray, was consistent. Although the many finds from this whole area are a rather heterogeneous lot, they are, in fact, useful as a domestic assemblage, and the chief drawback is a lack of confining walls or a substantial sealing layer of gravel or sand above it. The sample is, nevertheless, large enough for us to be confident that the general flavor of an early sixth-century level has been retained.

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Refuse Piles

East of Building D were several heaps of debris, often containing considerable amounts of elegant painted pottery and terracotta (see Fig. 7.4). These objects were not organically connected with the floors, and the quantity and quality of the material was unlike what we found within Building D. Associated or joining pieces were often found within a rather confined area, and there were more of these than one might expect of things left unattended in the open or haphazardly thrown out. The presence of many joining pieces of several fine pots suggests that the material was brought in and dumped on the pile, where it would have broken upon impact. As yet there is no proof, but we have always thought that the finds in this area did not represent a typical part of the town. Little by little the signs of grander buildings and richer furnishings were appearing, and the elegant pieces mentioned here may have had a prior setting worthy of a great capital city.

Among the finds in these presumed “refuse piles” were more than thirty complete or nearly complete Lydian pots, including a fine Orientalizing lebes in the Sardis Style” (HoB 750 and frontispiece of volume II), with lions and deer strutting across the bands, and an almost complete streaky-glazed jug with pendent hooks (HoB 753; see Fig. 1.11). About two or three meters from most of the refuse, and at a comparable level, were found numerous whole skyphoi (HoB 742HoB 747) and many other pots. A good number of these were small oinochoai (HoB 754HoB 764).

Of particular importance was the discovery of fragments of an ithyphallic terracotta man (HoB 785), painted in a lively manner to show long hair, beard, and an elaborate outfit on his upper body and surviving leg. He may have served as a trick vase on which the penis served as the spout. Greenewalt dated the “Exhibitionist” to after 540 B.C. and suggested that he represented a Persian, based on his costume; but the context does not seem to be that late, and he may well date to before the Persian destruction. Hanfmann dated him to about 560.101 Also found here was a terracotta figure thought to be a camel, of which only two legs survive (HoB 784).102

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One gets a different impression from the structures and pottery of Lydian I than from those of Lydian II. The sense of a planned space is less obvious, and the buildings are somewhat smaller and in general less well built. The pottery and miscellaneous artifacts, by contrast, are richer and show a greater variety. More imports and more articles of daily life appeared and widen our understanding of the Lydians. Many pieces of pottery were found in heaps that must have been rubbish in their own time, contrasting with the habit of filling pits with trash, favored by the earlier generation living in the Lydian II level.

External written sources report that this period, the turn to the sixth century, was one of great intellectual and economic ferment throughout the Mediterranean world as well as at Sardis. The increased variety of material goods from this period is evident here, and a slightly different use for the area from the one suggested for the earlier period may be proposed; not a radical change, but one that fits with the surge in economic growth experienced in the late seventh century, and with the renown the Lydians gained as commercial entrepreneurs. The buildings and activities of Lydian II should be seen as essentially local, and created to some degree in isolation while the Kimmerians remained a threat, while those of Lydian I were significantly more international, responding to the growth in wealth and power at Sardis.