The imposing Temple of Artemis at Sardes

The imposing Temple of Artemis at Sardes

The ancient city of Sardes next to Izmir was once the capital of the ancient kingdom of Lydia, whose founding, accordingly to the records of Herodot, goes back to the dynasty of Herakleids that saw themselves as descendants of Hercules.

In Hittite times the city was probably called Uda, among Herakleids the name was Hyde. The last king of this dynasty was Kandaules. Gyges, bodyguards and spearmen of King Candaules should, at his kings command, admire the beauty of his wife. The queen, who noticed this concern of her husband, was deeply wounded in her honor, presented Gyges the choice to murder her husband, or even to die on the spot. Gyges then killed the king, succeeded him and married the queen.

The accession of Gyges, and with it the rise of folks of Mermnadae was dated around 675 BC. 647 BC Gyges fell in the battle against the Cimmerians. His son Ardys (647-605 BC) and his grandson Alyattes (600-555 BC.) followed him on the throne. Alyattes son, Croesus (555-541 BC) designated as the last ruler of Mermnadae in Sardis. With it the kingdom of Lydia endet.

The kingdom of Lydia was highly developed in crafts and trades and Sardis was the headquarter of production, which has centered on the preparation and dyeing delicate woolen material and of carpets. The statement that the small river Pactolus went on the market on golden sand, can be predicted as a metaphor for the wealth of the city, on the back the Greeks of the 6th century BC attacked for their gold supplies..; Gold mining and trade were the real sources of this wealth.

Sardis was also the starting point for 2,500 km long Persian king road to Persepolis. In 499 BC, Sardis and its temples were destroyed during the Ionian revolt of the Greeks, which was avenged in the subsequent of Persian wars.

Tissaphernes, by mediation of Alcibiades Satrap in Sardis since approximately 413 BC, supported the Spartans in the Peloponnesian War. 401 BC the powerful satrap of Sardis fought against the rebellious prince Cyrus, who was killed. With the victory of Alexander the Great in the Battle of the Granicus in 334 BC Sardis was introduced into the Hellenistic sphere.

This structure Artemis temple was “twice” as large as the Parthenon in Athens and was considered one of the seven largest Greek temples when it was first built in 334 BC. This was right after Sardis was liberated by Alexander the Great. As Artemis was the main goddess of fertility, the hunt, children and animals, people came from far and wide to worship in the mammoth 300’x150’ temple. In Roman times, Artemis became known as Diana, daughter of Zeus and twin of Apollo.  There is proof that Artemis was worshiped as early as the 6th century BC as there was a free standing altar of Artemis.

As with all of history due to wars, earthquakes, and other acts of men and God, the construction began and halted many times. Main construction resumed around 175 BC and sys then again abandoned. This was followed by much damage from the earthquake of 17 AD. Finally, the most impressive age of construction started during the Roman period about 150 AD.

Please read as well:

Sardes at Mount Timulus - Ancient Roman City

Aphrodisias - Sanctuary of Aphrodite

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