Sardis

Acropolis of Sardis from below

The Acropolis

Known biblically as the home of the church that received the fifth of letters to the seven churches in Revelation, Sardis was the capital of the Lydian empire and one of the greatest cities of the ancient world.

Located on the banks of the Pactolus River, Sardis was 60 miles inland from Ephesus and Smyrna.  The city was home to the famous bishop Melito in the 2nd century.

 

Temple of Artemis

Artemis was the main goddess of the city and the temple dedicated to her in Sardis was one of the seven largest Greek temples (more than double the size of the Parthenon).

Artemis, known as Diana by the Romans, was the daughter of Zeus and twin of Apollo.  She was the goddess of the hunt, the moon and fertility.

Temple of Artemis at Sardis

 

Sardis excavations, view from acropolis

Sardis Lower City

"And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write...I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God. Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If... thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief" (Rev 3:1-3)

 

Gymnasium-Bathhouse

A large complex built in center of the lower city in the 2nd century AD included a gymnasium and a bathhouse.  

The complex was over five acres in size and its western part was characterized by large vaulted halls for bathing.  The eastern part was a palaestra, a large open courtyard for exercise.

Sardis gymnasium

 

Sardis synagogue with bema

Synagogue

The synagogue of Sardis is notable for its size and location.  In size it is one of the largest ancient synagogues excavated.  In location it is found in the center of the urban center, instead of on the periphery as synagogues typically were.  This attests to the strength and wealth of the Jewish community in the city.  This synagogue came into use in the 3rd century AD.

Related Websites

The Archaeological Exploration of Sardis (Harvard University Art Museums)  Gives insight into the excavations taking place from a co-sponsor of the project.  Links offer information on visiting the site, the history of the city, and relevant publications.  Pictures of the excavation are available by clicking on links within the main text.

Sardis (Christian Travel Study Program)  The lengthy and informative text focuses on the historical background of this ancient city.

Sardis (Republic of Turkey, Ministry of Culture)  A brief encyclopedia-type article which discusses the history of the region.

Sardis (Cities of Revelation)  Summarizes the basic facts about Sardis in a user-friendly format.  Features several nice photographs.

Sardis (Focus Multimedia)  Highlights interesting and important facts about the city in a brief, reader-friendly format.

Sardis in History (Harvard Magazine)  Summarizes the history of the city by way of a concise timeline.

Sardes (The Catholic Encyclopedia)  Gives a brief, but rather technical history of the ancient city.  Text only, no pictures.

Jewish Sardis (Turkey) (Turkey Travel Planner)  Written by the author of the original Lonely Planet guide to Turkey, this site offers a practical look at Sardis, with an emphasis on Jewish roots.  He also has a more general description of Sardis.

Pictures of Sardis (ourfatherlutheran.net)  Features pictures of many of the archaeological remains at the site. 

Turkey and Seven Churches of Revelation Photo Album (ArcImaging, Rex Weissler)  Photographs from a tour of Turkey highlight important archaeological features of the city.  Scroll to "S" section or click on the appropriate photo tour at the top of the page.

The Search for Sardis (Harvard Magazine)  Tells the story of a professor's fascination with stories of Sardis, which, in time lead to the beginning of the Harvard-Cornell Archaeological Exploration of Sardis.  Reviews highlights of the dig and documents the progress after 40 years of digging.

The Ancient Synagogue at Sardis (The Cultured Traveler)  This lengthy article spotlights the largest synagogue ever excavated.

Greek Inscriptions of the Sardis Synagogue (Sacred Name Movement Errors)  Among other distinctive characteristics of the Synagogue at Sardis, more than eighty inscriptions add to its importance for archaeologists.

King Croesus' Gold (Cornell News)  Reviews the book in which Cornell University archaeologist documents one famous find from the Sardis expedition.