alaturka

Sardes at Mount Tımulus -ancient Roman City

Sardes at Mount Tımulus

The ancient city of Sardis, which was known as the capital of the Kingdom of Lydia, is situated near the present day village of Sart in the province of Manisa. The remains are located on either side of the Ankara - Izmir highway 85 kilometres east of the major city of Izmir.

The ancient city was established in the 8th century BC on top of a 1500 foot high hill which projected from the northern side of Mt. Timolus.

The sides of this hill were smooth, perpendicular rock which provided a natural citadel and it was difficult to reach apart from a narrow passage, easily defended from above. The people began to build at the foot of the hill. Thus the ancient city of Sardis was divided into two separate parts, the Ancient to the north overlooking the Hermus River plain, and the Modern to the south.

In 547 BC, the Persian King Kyros conquered the city and Sardis became a major stronghold of the western empire and the political capital of Asia Minor. At that time people lived in splendour and luxury and the craftsmen of Sardis rose to the occasion, supplying a large variety of high quality goods - clothing with golden threads, perfumes, oils and jewellery - using state of the art techniques. Life was really good in Sardis.

In 334 BC, Alexander the Great took control of the city but, after his death, his generals divided the kingdom and the city fell to the Seleucids in 281 BC. Sardis was now the capital of the Seleucid Empire’s territories to the north and west of the Taurus Mountains. During this era, the city of Sardis became Greek in its outward appearance. The city was then ruled in turn by Syria, Pergamum and the Romans. The Romans established an arms factory at Sardis, and extensively restored the city which had been ruined by internal wars and disputes over the years. The bath and gymnasium were built by the Romans and later a Jewish Synagogue was added. In 399 AD, Sardis avoided being sacked by the Goths thanks to flooding in the Hermus Valley. Then in 616 AD the Sassanian armies captured and destroyed the city.

The idea of using money was born in Sardis after bits of stamped metal were used as payment for goods. The production of coins became the greatest export of the Lydian Empire.

Numismatists generally agree that true minted coins were invented at the end of the 7th century but when the first ‘coin’ was actually made is still a matter for discussion.

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