After Alexander's death in 323 B.C. Lydia became part of the eleucid kingdom, and following the battle of Magnesia in 189 B.C. it was awarded to Pergamum. in 129 B.C, after the end of the Pergamene kingdom, Sardis became part of the Roman prov-i-ıce of Asia. Sardis remained as prosperous under Roman rule as 't had been under the Persians, as much of the trade of Asia Minör -ontinued to pass through the city along the Royal Road. Along ith the other cities of western Asia Minör, Sardis reached its ak under the Romans in the second century A.D., when its popu-lation exceeded 100,000. During the reign of Diocletian (r. 284-305) Sardis became capital of the Roman province of Lydia, re-laining that distinction up until the reorganization of Asia Minör in Üıe medieval Byzantine era.
During the early Byzantine period Sardis became an important center of Christianity, another of the Seven Churches of Revelation, its first bishop being St. Clement. As we read in Revelation 3:1-6:Write to the angel of the church in Sardis and say, "Here is the message of the one who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars: I know ali about you: how you are reputed to be alive and yet are dead. Wake up; revive what little you have left: it is dying fast. So far I have failed to notice anything in the way you live that my God could possibly cali perfect, and yet do you remember how eager you were when you first heard the message? Hold on to that. Repent. | If you do not wake up I will come to you like a thief, without telling you at what hour to expect me. There are a few in Sardis, it is true, who have kept their robes from being dirtied, and they are fit to come with me, dressed in white. Those who prove victorious will be dressed, like these. in white robes: I shall not blot their names out of the book of life, but acknowledge their names in the presence of my Father and his angels. If anyone has ears to hear, let him listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches." Sardis was stili a considerable city during the early centuries of the Byzantine era, but then in 616 it was utterly destroyed by the Sassanid Persian king Chosroes II in his invasion of Asia Minör. Sardis never fully recovered from this catastrophe, and thenceforth it was reduced to the status of a provincial town, having lost for-ever its ancient splendor. During the remainder of the Byzantine period Sardis almost disappears from the pages of history, men-tioned only in passing by an occasional chronicler. Then in 1425 it became part of the Ottoman Empire, diminished to the status of a kaza, a mere administrative center in the province of Aydın. When Chandler visited Sardis in 1765 he reported that it had degenerated to a "miserable village" surrounded by the ruins of its illustrious past, its most conspicuous monument being the edifice now identi-fied as the temple of Artemis.
Opposite the car park near the temple we see the headquarters of the Harvard-Cornell Expedition, the archaeological team that is excavating Sardis. The first systematic excavation of Sardis, fo-cusing on the temple here by the Pactolus, was carried out in 1910-14 by the Princeton Expedition, headed by H. C. Butler. Nothing further was done until 1958, when the Harvard-Cornell Exploration project was begun under the direction of George M. A. Hanfmann, with the excavations continuing annually to the present day. The early excavators assumed that they were unearth-ing the temple of Cybele mentioned by Herodotus and other ancient writers, but inscriptions were soon discovered indicating that it was actually a temple of Artemis. Archaeologists have since discovered a shrine of Cybele elsewhere in the excavations, and thus it appears that both goddesses were worshipped in Sardis. But an historian of ancient religion would say that they were both different forms of the same deity, the great fertility goddess of Anatolia.
The original shrine of Artemis on this site was a large sand-stone altar dating from the end of the fifth century B.C., located just to the west of the present temple on its longitudinal axis. Early in the third century B.C., under the Seleucids, construction began on the first phase of a west-facing Ionic temple dedicated to Artemis, with the edifice incorporating the earlier altar at its west-
Beside the southeast corner of the temple we see the remains of a small Byzantine chapel of the fourth century known as Church M. This is one of five Byzantine churches unearthed on the archaeological site. Those who built Church M next to the temple of Artemis were aware that the earlier sanctuary was a sacred place of great antiquity, and they took pains to exorcise the evil spirits that they believed inhabited it. As Clive Foss writes in his Byzantine and Ottoman Sardis: "Crosses were carved on the temple of Artemis to nullify the power of the demons who, it was believed, dwelt in the material of pagan edifices."
The acropolis hill rises to a peak some
path, where one is reminded of the account that Herodotus gives of the difficulties that the Persians had here in their siege of Sardis in 546 B.C, writing that their final assault was made on *'a section of the central stronghold so precipitous as to be almost inacces-sible." There are remains of a Lydian defense wall on the acropo-lis dating back to at least the sixth century B.C., though most of the fortifications one sees there today are Byzantine works of the sixth or seventh century A.D. One of the lower terraces of the hill is riddled with underground tombs of the Roman period. One of these is the grave of a Roman named Flavius Chrysanthios, who decorated his tomb with garlands of flowers and a dedicatory in-scription; another is painted with a gorgeous depiction of a pea-cock, symbol of eternal life, along with bowls of fruit and flowers. The ruins on the summit of the acropolis hill also include the foundations of a palace of the archaic period, undoubtedly the imperial residence of the kings of the Mermnadae dynasty. The summit commands a panoramic view of the entire archaeological site, most of which is spread out along the east bank of the Pactolus and on both sides of the highway east of üıe village of Sartmustafa. Hamilton's description of the view reveals that the scene has suf-fered little change since his day; as he writes:
The view from this lofty summit was truly magnificent: to the north the Hermus. winding through its rich plain, was hacked by distant hills and the broad expanse of the Gygaean lake; stili farther to the west were the tumuli of the Lydian kings; while the continuation of the broken and rugged line of sand hills which skirt the base of Mount Tmolus was prolonged to the east and west of the spot on which we stood. To the south were the snow-capped peaks of Mount Tmolus; while the deep intermediate space was broken into many hills and dales, either cultivated or covered with flourishing brushwood.
Retuming to the temple of Artemis, we now head back along the river road toward the village. The main necropolis of ancient Sardis was across the river from the temple, where we see a num-
r of rock-hewn tombs ranging from the sixth century B.C. to the Roman era. There are also burials on the east side of the river. About halfway along the road, where it descends to cross a ravine, a path leads off to the right to the so-called Pyramid Tomb, which is halfway up the side of the gorge at a height of some
We now pass through the village to visit the part of the archaeological site across the highway to its east, where the excava-tions have unearthed an enormous Roman civic center. This was begun after a catastrophic earthquake in the year A.D. 17. Some of its most monumental structures were not completed for another two centuries, remaining in continual use from then on into the medieval Byzantine era. The eastern half of the complex was de-signed as a gymnasium, with the western half comprising its asso-ciated baths and athletic faciüties. The central area of this com-plex, the Marble Court, has now been reconstructed. its most im-pressive feature is the monumental two-storied arcade adorning the eastern propylon of the courtyard, where one passes from the palaestra, or exercise area, into the baths. An inscription över the columns records that this edifıce was dedicated in A.D. 211-12 to Julia Donma, wife of the Empeıoi Sepiinıiııs Severus (r. 193-211) and their sons Caracalla (r. 211-17) and Geta (r. 211-12). The Corinthian capitals of the columns have heads of gods, fauns and satyrs peering out from among the acanfhus leaves, a delightful feature found in no other Graeco-Roman building in Asia Minör. The Marble Court is an outstanding example of the Roman ba-roque style of architecture, which was beginning to appear in the early third century A.D. Most of the eastern half of the court was taken up with the palaestra. This huge colonnaded court, which has also been reconstructed, has a long süite of rooms at its south-ern end that apparently served as dressing chambers or lecture halis.
One particularly interesting discovery made by the Harvard-Cornell Expedition is the ancient Sardis synagogue, which in late Roman times occupied the long apsidal area in the gymnasium south of the palaestra. This is the largest ancient synagogue known, and its size and grandeur are evidence of the prosperity and emi-nence of the Jewish community in Roman Sardis. The building dates from the period A.D. 220-50, and it appears to have been erected as part of the gymnasium, only to be converted into a synagogue somewhat later. Evidence of a much earlier synagogue is given by the Jewish historian Josephus, writing in the latter half
of the first century A.D. He quotes decrees of both Julius Caesar and Augustus guaranteeing the Jews of Sardis the right, which apparently they had long enjoyed, of meeting in worship together in their own congregation. There is reason to believe that the Jewish community in Sardis dated back to the end of the Lydian period, to the days of Croesus. The Sardis synagogue has now been splendidly restored, an outstanding example of Roman architecture without parallel in Asia Minör.
The southern side of the gymnasium was converted into an arcade of vaulted shops early in the Byzantine period. The shops faced a similar arcade on the other side of the avenue, part of the Persian Royal Road, now covered by the modern highway. The twenty-nine structures that have been excavated here date from the fourth century A.D. These were ali used for commercial enter-prises, many of the establishments identified by inscriptions giv-ing the name of the owner. One of the shopkeepers, a man named Jacob, is also identified as an elder in the synagogue.The part of the archaeological site south of the highway here is known as the Lydian market area, since it appears to have been the agora of Sardis during the time of the Mermnadae, as evidenced by pottery shards of that period. it continued to be a commercial quarter for a full thousand years afterwards. The majör structure in this area is known as the House of the Bronzes, from the Iarge number of bronze objects found here. The most outstanding pieces are now exhibited in the Manisa Museum. The House of Bronzes has been dated to the mid-sixth century A.D. Liturgical objects and an altar found here have led to the suggestion that it was the home of a Christian dignitary, perhaps the Bishop of Sardis. Another recent discovery in this area is a stretch of the ancient Lydian city wall, a massive structure of unbaked brick some
Some travelers have too hastily concluded that this was the church of Sardis to which allusion is made in the Apocalypse, but besides that the expression can only have referred to the community of Chris-tians then established, the nature of the structure above described shows that its date must have been at least posterior to the overthrow of the Pagan religion and the destruction of the temples, towards the end of the fouıth century.