Sunday, 29 November 2015

The Ancient Kingdom of Lydia

Sardis was the capital of Lydia ruled by mighty King Croesus during the period 560-547 BC. The Lydians were cited as the first people to mint coins of gold and silver in Asia Minor, and it was Croesus who funded the construction of the great Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world. Although some claim that he was largely a legendary figure, his signature at the base of one of the columns from the Temple of Artemis, now displayed in the British Museum, is evidence that he was an historical king who ruled from the city of Sardis.  
In the Book of Revelations, the fifth of St. John's seven Messages was sent to the church in Sardis. 
It is home to the remains of the Temple of Artemis, a Roman Synagogue, and a baths-gymnasium complex revealing the city's former glory and wealth.
The Temple of Artemis in Sardis was the fourth largest Ionic temple in the world. Originally built in 300 BC by the ancient Greeks, the temple was renovated by the Romans in the C2nd AD. 
Much of what remains today is Roman, but these two mighty columns are Hellenistic



There is a small brick and rubble church located at the corner of the temple which was probably built in the C4th AD long after the Temple cult had been abandoned, and was used as a place of Christian worship for 300 years before being buried under a massive medieval landslide
This abandoned crane was brought to Sardis in 1911 by Prof Howard Crosby Butler of Princetown University and used for lifting and moving fallen architectural blocks during excavation at the temple. It was moved around the site on a narrow-gauge Decauville railroad track with a small locomotive. The crane was made by Dorman Long at Middlesborough in the north of England.
A short journey from the temple is Roman Sardis - this is Marble Street made up of 34 Byzantine shops many of which were owned by Jews. Recovered artifacts suggest a restaurant, taverna, a shop selling dyes and paints, and others selling glassware, and metal hardware. In some cases the presence of benches, latrine seats, and basins indicates that several may have been non-commercial, and were probably living spaces for the proprietors. Personal names and religious symbols inscribed on the walls reflect the cultural diversity of the residents.
 A Roman drainpipe
A surprising discovery was made here less than 50 years ago - a Jewish Synagogue. Excavations by both Harvard and Cornell Universities have unearthed the most impressive synagogue in the western diaspora yet found from antiquity. Over 80 Greek and 7 Hebrew inscriptions as well as numerous mosaic floors have been found. It has provided indisputable evidence of a continued presence of Jewish communities in Asia Minor, and their integration into Roman life, at a time when scholars previously assumed that Christianity had eclipsed Judaism.
Immediately adjacent to the synogogue is a large bath-gymnasium complex. Bathing was an important Roman tradition - something that they spread throughout their empire.  
A red inscription dedicates the space to the Roman Imperial family: Emperors Caracalla and Geta, and their mother Julia Domna; and even records that the hall was gilded by two ladies of consular rank: the sarcophagus of one of these ladies, Claudia Antonia Sabina, was found at Sardis and it is now in the Archaeological Museum, Istanbul


On this photo the remains of marble walls can clearly be seen which once covered the whole of the interior
The complex was thought to have been completed in the late C2nd or early C3rd AD - repaired and modified in succeeding centuries. The Synagogue was made out of a conversion of one of the marble halls in the bath-gymnasium complex, but all fell into ruin during the C7th AD 
I never cease to be amazed at the Romans and continually find myself in awe of the massive footprint that they have left behind for us to admire and appreciate across three continents. 
This post is for my second born granddaughter and she will know why!

39 comments:

  1. Fabulous photos and history-telling!
    Your photo cubes are beautiful.


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    1. Thank you Jeanneke for your kind comment - I can't remember how I made the photo cubes now, so I will have to have another go with some new photos to try.

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  2. Hello Rosemary, The ancients seemed to have an unerring instinct for elegance and proportion. Given that, the mechanical details such as the drainpipe and the later iron crane are just is interesting!
    --Jim

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    1. Hello Jim - you are right, it is not only the grand architectural details but sometimes those smaller items that catch your eye and hold your interest and attention too.

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  3. Dear Rosemary, You travel to the most fascinating places. And you bring back such great photographs. Until a few days ago I didn't know where Lydia was except that it is located somewhere in Turkey.
    Recently I have been studying the Etruscans in preparation for our visit in April. It has been written that recent genetic studies of Etruscan descendants found strong similarities with individuals from western Anatolia/Lydia. What do you think?

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    1. Dear Gina - I know that C5th BC Greek master historian, Heredotus, born in what is Bodrum,Turkey today, ascribes the origin of the Etruscans to Lydia. He says the ancestors of the Etruscans were forced to emigrate from Lydia by sea because of 18 years of bad times. Virgil also states that they came from Lydia.
      Now you will have a picture of where they came from when you visit your Etruscan sites next April - are you off to Italy?

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  4. Your pictures have brought back wonderful memories of Sardis. We first visited it with some Jewish friends who were amazed by it.

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    1. Glad that this brought back wonderful memories for you both. I can well imagine how amazed your Jewish friends were, I was too.

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  5. We've been to Ephesus, not Sardis yet.... used to holiday on the Bodrum Peninsula, where the remnants of another of the seven wonders of the ancient world, the Mausoleum at Helicarnasus, lurk in the back streets of Bodrum. Now, we go further south, to Cirali, the site of the Chimaera flames - which still burn. We have also visited nearby Myra - very interesting.

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    1. Turkey is a feast for those who enjoy visiting sites of antiquity - not forgettting of course its many other attributes too.

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  6. So stunning and still standing, well parts are after all these years. Just goes to show the workmanship and staying power of the product they used.
    Manisa Province is there Sardis is?

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    1. Yes it is in the Province of Manisa, and I think what is amazing is the fact that it is all still standing even though they experience earthqakes in that region.

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  7. I agree with you, I also always remain in awe at what the romans accomplished and how they were ahead of their time, really impressive and majestuous buildings !

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    1. Sometimes I wonder whether we have actually moved forward comparing their buildings with ours of today.

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  8. A wonderful site that I always enjoy visiting - you are getting closer to my home town.

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    1. We did get even a little closer, but I have never actually visited Bodrum

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  9. A real convergence of spiritualities here. And as Monty Python said, "What have the Romans ever done for us?" Life of Brian is still one of the best satires of politics, religion and fanaticism that I've ever seen!

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    1. One the great things that the Roman did for us in the UK was to give us straight roads up and down the country which are still in use to this day.

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  10. Your pictures remind me so much of Pompei, without the crowds. It is amazing how advanced they were! Sarah x

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    1. How right you are Sarah to say how advanced they were and also highly sophisticated - flushing latrines, underfloor central heating all this dominated by majestic architecture.

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  11. The stonework, carving and general workmanship is just incredible isn't it!!! Really so very beautiful! xx

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    1. The carving and the size of the pillars is mind boggling - how did they carry and assemble these great stone buildings, which they did across three continents again, and again, and again.

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  12. Fabulous images Rosemary. I agree with your comment about whether we have actually moved forward today. I guess the romans didn't need to worry so much about mass production. The craftsmanship shows.

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    1. I often wish that our builders used their imagination a bit more. It can't be that difficult to make patterns in the brickwork like the Romans did, and nice brick archways.

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  13. Wonderful! You travel so much, Rosemary - and, what is more (for us) you are able to show us what you have visited and we learn something new by that - most interesting + entertaining, which is the perfect synthesis. Thank you!
    I would have liked to stroll through that "Mall" that you described - must have been fascinating goods they sold there.

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    1. You are right Britta - a Roman Mall - is there is nothing new under the sun?

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  14. It's impossible to remain unaffected by the history, artistry and staying-power of these massive, stone buildings and pillars. Sometimes I wish that touching them could temporarily take me back in time, just for a peek, to witness what life was like back then.

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    1. Me too - I would love to be the fly on the wall.

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  15. What a beauty it is. What a majestic city it was. As for me I had a possibility to visit only couple of European old cities like Prague, Dubrovnik, Budapest. But my friend from http://paperwriting.xyz/ visited Athens and he says it's the most amazing thing he ever seen.

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    1. These archaelogical sites bring history to life.

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  16. This is a wonderful learning of history while being in awe, Rosemary. Recalling my high school days, simple rote learning about these culture for the test was a headache, because on the continent of Europe and Western Asia, people migrated, kingdoms rose one after another, and culture merged while keeping each originality. If I could’ve seen Hellenistic, Ionic, Zionistic, or Roman style virtually on the computer just like as I do now, the study would’ve been more pleasant. How majestic the stonework and how fascinating the intricate patterns on them! Thank you for sharing.

    Yoko

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    1. I agree with you Yoko - I am sure that the learning process must be easier today than pre-computers. For me actually seeing and walking through these sites has been a great educational lesson which has helped my understanding and expanded my world.

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  17. The pictures remind me of when we visited the site of the first Olympics in Olympia Greece. Massive structures that you can't imagine were constructed in those times. The name Lydia makes me think of my Mom. Her name was Lyda and people were always mistaking it for Lydia.

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    1. There are so many sites of great archaelogical interest to visit in Europe - I am continually amazed at what I see.

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  18. Fantastic lovely images, indeed.
    Hugs

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    1. Pleased that you enjoyed seeing them

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  19. Simply amazing work. How did they get those circles so perfectly round? How did they get the carved leaves to line up so, well, so perfectly? I love the photos of the bath gymnasium. The stonework is mind boggling. At least it boggles my mind. Thank you for getting up close and personal - these are the sorts of photos that really tell about the place you are visiting. That fluted pillar - my goodness. The ancient Romans may have had messy personal lives, but they sure knew how to build beauty into even their most utilitarian projects.

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    1. One of the things that fascinates me about the carving is that each pillar is different - the people carving them have put their own personal interpretation into the stonework.

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