Anabatours - There Are Too Many Place To See Anabatours - There Are Too Many Place To See


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Topographical Introduction

Sardis is located about 100 km. (60-65 miles) due east of Izmir (Smyrna), where Boz dağı, the ancient Mt. Tmolus, rises from the broad plain of the Gediz River, the ancient Hermus. A mountain foothill that towers 300 m. above the plain was the citadel or Acropolis of the ancient city. Between the Acropolis and another prominent foothill to the west runs i sfream, Sart çayı, the ancient Pactolus, which issues from Tmolus and empties into the llermus.

     The city proper lay at the mouth of the Pactolus valley and along the north side of the Acropolis. A fortification wall of the 4th century A.D. (Fig. 3, no. 9) defines the formal limits of Sardis as it was in Late Roman times. The Temple of Artemis (Fig. 3, no. 17) always lay outside the city. The cemeteries were located in the hills and vallies on either side of the Pactolus stream.
     The city's satellite communities-villages, hamlets, and farms, some of whose ancient names (e.g., Tobalmoura, Metallon) and sites (e.g., at Dedemezan and Karadut) are known-were located in the surrounding plain and mountain slopes. On the far side of the plain is the Lydian royal cemetery, whose countless burial mounds or tumuli, visible from Sardis, give the place its name Bin Tepe, "Thousand Mounds. These are individual tombs of kings and royalty of the 7th and 6th centuries B.C. The largest mound (base diameter 350 in., height 60 in.), directly across from the Acropolis, was built for Alyattes, the father of Croesus. Just beyond Bin Tepe lies Marmara Gölu, the Gygaean Lake (visible from the Acropolis). By its shores there were settlements in the 3rd mulenium B.C. and in historical antiquity another famous temple of Artemis.These dramatic natural landmarks played a role in the folklore and legends of Sardis, which Greek and Latin literature preserves for us. Homer sang of the Gygaean Lake, "snowy Tinolus, and "eddying Hermus (Illiad2.864-866; 20.381-392). Tmolus was, according to some traditions, the birthplace of Dionysos and of Zeus (Euripides, Bacchae 460-464; Joannes Lydus, De Mensibus 4.71); and the personified Mountain judged the musical competition between Apollo and Pan ("shaklag the trees from his ears to hear the contestants; Ovid, Metamorphoses 11. 153-171). The Pactolus str'eain assumed Midas's Golden Touch when the Phrygian king bathed in its headwaters, and forever after flowed with gold (ibid., 11.134-145).

Anabatours - There Are Too Many Place To See

     The Acropolis was a magic fortress, impregnable wherever Lydia's King Meles carried around its slopes a lion "that his mistress bore him ; but he omitted the sheer cliffs to the south; and so, inevitably, the citadel was captured from that side when the empire of Croesus fell to the Persians, in ca. 547 B.C. (Herodotus 1.84). Crawford H Greenewalt, Jr. 1983

The Synagogue

This monumental synagogue, the largest known from antiquity, was the center of Jewish religious life at Sardis during the Late Roman period. It was built originally for secular purposes, as part of the larger bath-gymnasium complex, but was turned over to the Jewish community and extensively remodeled by it in the fourth century A.D. For almost 300 years thereafter, Jews gathered here to pray, to hear the reading of Scripture, and to make decisions about community matters. The synagogue served also as a school, probably as a dining hall on occasion, and perhaps as a lodging-place for Jewish travelers.

Anabatours - There Are Too Many Place To See The colonnaded Forecourt was roofed around the perimeter but open to the sky in the middle. The large urn or crater at the center of the court, a replica of the marble original, was a fountain at which eongregants washed their hands before prayer. Beyond is the Main Hall, an assembly room large enough to hold nearly a thousand people. Stone piers along both sides of the hall supported a clerestory, which rose to a height of about 14 m. above the floor. Two shrines built against the entrance wall, flanking the central door, must have housed the Torah, the Old Testament scrolls which constitute Jewish law.

     For readings, the scrolls probably were carried in ceremony to the huge marble table near the far end of the hall.Two pairs of marble lions (replicas) stand guard. Semicircular benches in the apse behind the table probably were reserved for the "elders. Fragments of a stone menorah, or seven-branched lampstand, were found nearby.

Anabatours - There Are Too Many Place To See     Marble laque incites with MENORAH, LULAV, and SHOFAR (right); and as found near the south shrine (left) Anabatours - There Are Too Many Place To See

Portions of the marble wall decoration have been restored. The restoration includes inlay panels of small, colored stones arranged in geometric patterns set within an architectonic frame.Other inlay panels had plant and animal designs. An incised plaque, depicting a seven-branched menorah, a lulav (palm branch), and shofar (ram's horn) was found at the base of one of the shrines. Upper parts of the walls or piers were faced with brightly-colored glass mosaics. The clerestory and ceiling may have been painted.

Anabatours - There Are Too Many Place To See
Inscription of the donor Memnonios, who gave the marble revetment of the nomophylakion, "the place that protects the law"

Inscriptions, written in Greek, record the names of people who donated the floor mosaics and wall decorations. Many of the donors held the honorary title "citizen. Several are identified as city councilors or holders of other government offices. One mosaic panel, at the very center of the Main Hall, was the gift of a "priest and teacher of wisdom. Stone bases around this panel supported four thin pillars or columns, probably marking the place from which the teacher taught. Another mosaic inscription nearby mentions a "count. A marble panel, not displayed, mentions the decoration of the nomophylakion, "the place that protects the Law.

Anabatours - There Are Too Many Place To See

    Only a few words written in Hebrew survived. One of these, on a broken marble plaque, says shalom ("peace ). The synagogue was abandoned along with much of the rest of the city after the destruction of A.D. 616 and slowly fell into ruin. The Jewish community apparently dispersed. There is no further evidence of Jews in the area until the fifteenth century A.D.
     There must have been an earlier synagogue at Sardis, perhaps near the Late Roman one. Jews first arrived in the city in the sixth century B.C. as refugees from the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem. This is suggested in Obadiah 20. where Sardis is called by its Semitic name, Sepharad. The Jewish community was well established at Sardis by the first century B.C., their rights confirmed by Roman decrees. One decree mentions their "place of assembly (Josephus, Jewish Antiquities 14.235). This earlier place of assembly has not been found.

  Reused in the Synagogue walls, piers, and foundations were marble architectural parts and sculpture from older buildings and monuments. Several may be identified with a sanctuary of a mother goddess of the sixth-through-third centuries B.C.: eight blocks from piers (antae) of a temple of the Mother, or metroon (as identified by an inscription on one of the blocks), and relief sculpture representing a goddess in her temple and Cybele and Artemis with worshippers. The sanctuary to which those items originally belonged may have been located near the Synagogue, and may have been the Sanctuary of Cybele mentioned by Herodotus (5.102) or the metroon mentioned by Plutarch (Life of Themistokles3 1.1), or both.

Anabatours - There Are Too Many Place To See

    Apse mosaic, with donors incription and peacocks, which were cut out in antiquity. Photograph taken during excavations, 1963.
(left); south shrined restored (right).

Anabatours - There Are Too Many Place To See

Anabatours - There Are Too Many Place To See
Marble MENORAH, given by the Sculptor Sokrates


To the church in Sardis

To the angel of the church in Sardis, write this:

The one who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars says this: I know your works, that you have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Be watchful and strengthen what is left, which is going to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. Remember then how you accepted and heard; keep it, and repent. If you are not watchful, I will come like a thief, and you will never know at what hour I will come upon you. However, you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their garments; they will walk with me dressed in white, because they are worthy.    The victor will thus be dressed in white, and I will never erase his name from the book of life but will ackn owl- edge his name in the presence of my Father and of his angels.
    Whoever has ears ought to hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
    The message of St John to the church in Sardis begins with the introduction of Christ as the one who possesses the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. The Spirit of God is symbolized as the seven spirits.

The seven stars are the angels of the Seven Churches. The abrubt manner in which St John begins admonishing the church in Sardis, contrasting their present state with the past, gives the impression that it has completely surrendered to the temptations against which St John tries to warn the Christians of the time. These were aposfasy or following the teaching of false prophets, worshipping the imperial cult or not embracing the faith hearffully. For this reason the church ef Sardis is regarded as dead. It exists only in name or materially. It is time that it wakes up from this dead state. Otherwise it will be punished without knowing when this will happen; the after bringing to mind the impregnable citadel of Sardis which was captured by surprise by Cyrus the Great or Antiochus Ill. This may be at night as the people of city are asleep, ignorant of the hour of arrival of the punishment. 
    Nevertheless, there are those few Christians in Sardis who have kept their faith. They are the conquerors. They have not defiled their garments; they have not fallen into heresy. They are worthy of being rewarded with white garments, the symbol of eternal bliss, and their names will be confessed before God and his angels. Their names will not be erased from the book of life like those who did not endure the persecutions. The after derives from Luke 1 0:20 where Christ tells the seventy-two men to rejoice because their names are written in heaven. It means they belong to God and Gods kingdom.The metaphor is found in the book of Daniel (Dn 12:1) where the people whose names found written in the book escape distress. In the book of Exodus (32:33) God answers Moses: only who has sinned against me will I strike out of my book. Philippians 4:3 also refers to the book of life. In the book of Revelation St John says that after the resurrection of the dead, the Last Judgement will take place and the people whose names are not found in the book will be cast into the lake of fire (Rv 20:15). The others (Rv 21:7) will be rewarded with eternal life on a new earth.

Anabatours - There Are Too Many Place To See
Marble font of reused material from the Byzantine shops situated next to the synagogue in Sardis. The shop is thought to have served ultimately as a baptistry. The crosses were superimposed over pagan inscriptions and decorations.

Christian Ruins in Sardis

Research has brought to light the ruins of several churches in Sardis. One of these - named M' by archaeologists - is situated next to the southeastern corner of the Temple of Artemis and was built to consecrate the pagan Temple and serve as a funerary chapel for a cemetery. Access to it was through the southern colonnade of the temple. The church building consisted of a simple apsidal hall with a window in the apse. It also had clerestory windows which were later filled.

Anabatours - There Are Too Many Place To See

Plan of Church M (A. R. Seager)

A. Northeast enclosure 5. Niche
B. Northwest enclosure 6. New retaining wall
C. East Apse 7. Old drain
D. West Apse 8. New drains
1. Fin wall 9. Destroyed foundation
2-4. Southeast Artemis
Temple column bases
10. Probable doorstep
A small door in its north wall led to a courtyard. The building had a marble floor of reused material. Its walls were of rubble alternating with brick courses. They were originally plastered over and decorated on the inner and outer sides. The altar consisted of a block of sandstone on a marble support and is one of the earliest altars discovered. The coins found just outside the courtyard door assured archaeologists that the church was built before 400. The larger outer apse with a triforium of the building was added in the sixth century. This part had a door leading to a service room on the north side and another door on the opposite side opened towards the cemetery.     Two churches to the right of the path leading to the Temple of Artemis have been uncovered. The older one (church EA) was larger and is thought to date from the middle of the fourth century, making it the oldest church discovered until now in western Anatolia. Its large size is interpreted as evidence for the existence of a large Christian communtly in Sardis. Although what has been excavated is in a very fragmentary condition it gives some idea of the general plan of the building; it consisted of a courtyard, narthex and nave with aisles. At present its eastern half is under the second church built on the same ground. The curved foundation of its apse with its supporting buttresses can be distinguished to the east side. However, the superstructure cannot be made out. Later, the building underwent various changes and constructions.
    The second church (E) which was raised on the ruins of the previous one was smaller and dates from the Lascarid period, It was partly built out of surviving material of the previous building and occupied its eastern end. If consisted of a narthex and nave with side aisles. The apse, which was smaller than that of the previous church, can be distinguished. Its exterior was decorated with friezes of hollow quatrefoils made of clay pipes inserted vertically into the wall surface. Its fallen dome still survives at the centre of its ruins.The five rectangular piers, preserved up to a height of ten metres and still partly buried in the field on the north side of fhe present highway, are thought to have belonged to the main church of Sardis (church D). It probably rose on the ground of an ancient temple. The piers were constructed with reused material and rubble with mortar and faced with irregular ashlar. Parts of pendentives and springing of sideways arches have survived. The building is thought to have continued to the north. Excavations are expected to give an idea about the plan of the building and about the person to whom it was dedicated.

Anabatours - There Are Too Many Place To See
Lydian goldworking installations in Sardis.

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