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Manisa ProvinceTurkey / ANATOLIA


Sardis was an ancient city at the location of modern Sart, near Salihli, in Turkey's Manisa Province. Sardis was the capital of the ancient kingdom of Lydia, an important city of the Persian Empire, the seat of a Seleucid satrap, the seat of a proconsul under the Roman Empire, and the metropolis of the province Lydia in later Roman and Byzantine times.

It is also mentioned in the New Testament. Its importance was due first to its military strength, secondly to it being situated on an important highway leading from the interior to the Aegean coast, and thirdly to its commanding the wide and fertile plain of the Hermus.


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Category:         Ancient City

Civilisation       Lydia /Asia Minor

View of the Byzantine Shops and the Bath-Gymnasium Complex,

Foundation stories

Herodotus, says that the city was founded by the sons of Hercules, the Heraclides. According to Herodotus, the Heraclides ruled for five hundred and five years beginning with Agron, 1220 BC, and ending with Candaules, 716 BC. They were followed by the Mermnades, which began with Gyges, 716 BC, and ended with Croesus, 546 BC.

The earliest written reference to Sardis is in The Persians of Aeschylus (472 BC); in the Iliad, the name “Hyde” seems to be given to the city of the Maeonian (i.e. Lydian) chiefs and in later times Hyde was said to be the older name of Sardis, or the name of its citadel.

It is, however, more probable that Sardis was not the original capital of the Maeonians, but that it became so amid the changes which produced the powerful Lydian empire of the 8th century BC.


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The Bath-Gymnasium complex at Sardis

The city was captured by the Cimmerians in the 7th century BC, by the Persians in the 6th, by the Athenians in the 5th, and by Antiochus III the Great at the end of the 3rd century BC.

In the Persian era, Sardis was conquered by Cyrus the Great and formed the end station for the Persian Royal Road which began in Persepolis, capital of Persia. Sardis was the site of the most important Persian satrapy.

The siege of Sardis (547/546 BC) was the last decisive conflict after the Battle of Thymbra, which was fought between the forces of Croesus of Lydia and Cyrus the Great, Cyrus followed Croesus to his city, laid siege to it for 14 days and captured it. 

One thing history tells us about Cyrus is that he was a master at sieges. Patient and innovative, he was a master strategist, which is what helped him to bring Babylon to its knees. In the case of Sardis, it was mostly patience and innovation on the part of one of his soldiers that handed the Persian armies the acropolis of Sardis.

One of Cyrus’ soldiers scaled the rock face in the dead of night, found the lone guard at the bottleneck in the path asleep. He disposed of him, quietly signaled the Persian army, and showed them the way up a winding path in the rock face. Sardis fell that night.

During the Ionian Revolt, the Athenians burnt down the city. Sardis remained under Persian domination until it surrendered to Alexander the Great in 334 BC.

Sardis citadel at Salihli, Manisa, Turkey..jpg

Sardis citadel at Salihli, Manisa, Turkey.

Defeat_of_Croesus at the abttle of Tymbra_546_BCE.jpg

Defeat of Croesus at the abttle of Tymbra 546 BCE

The inventors of first coins and Currency.

The early Lydian kingdom was very advanced in the industrial arts and Sardis was the chief seat of its manufactures. The most important of these trades was the manufacture and dyeing of delicate woolen stuffs and carpets. The stream Pactolus which flowed through the market-place "carried golden sands" in early antiquity, which was in reality gold dust out of Mount Tmolus. It was during the reign of King Croesus that the metallurgists of Sardis discovered the secret of separating gold from silver, thereby producing both metals of a purity never known before.

This was an economic revolution, for while gold nuggets panned or mined were used as currency, their purity was always suspect and a hindrance to trade. Such nuggets or coinage were naturally occurring alloys of gold and silver known as electrum, and one could never know how much of it was gold and how much was silver. Sardis now could mint nearly pure silver and gold coins, the value of which could be – and was – trusted throughout the known world. This revolution made Sardis rich and Croesus' name synonymous with wealth itself. For this reason, Sardis is famed in history as the place where modern currency was invented.

lydian coins

Greek colonies in Asia Minor Is the world 1st coin. It's made of electrum, an alloy of gold and silver called "white gold" in ancient times (50-60 percent gold with these coins).

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