A New Look at Ancient Sardis
DAVID GORDON MITTEN
Fogg Art Museums, Harvard University
Few capitals of the ancient world can bogst so remarkable a record of fateful encounters between east and west as does Sardis. Its origins resch into the Bronze Age. During the 7th and 6th centuries B.C., its ambitious rulers exploited its strategic location and natural resources to make it the capital of western Asia Minor and its name a byword to the Greeks for wealth and luxury. Cyrus and his successors transformed it into their western capital, from which the Anatolian and Ionian satrapies of the Persian Empire were ruled and a eentury of intrigue and military operations against Greece was launched. Sardis remained a major administratiye center under Alexander and his suceessor rulers until it passed under Roman control. Shortly after the time of Christ, a deyastating earthquake inaugurated rebuilding of the city in a series of monumental architectural complexes which continued in use during the later Roman empire and the early centuries of Byzantine rufe. Sardis' existence as a city in the classical tradition was abruptly terminated early in the 7th century A.D. by inyading Sassanians; the subsequent inhabitants of the site oecupied a shrinking settlement whose descendants are the modern "Sarts," the Turkish yillages which cluster along the western edges of the ancient city.
The geographical Position of Sardis, one of great strategic importance, is also one of awesome seenic beauty. The broad, tilted spine of the Tmolus (Bozdag) Range, traditional birthplace of the Lydian Dionysos and probable source of much of the Lydians' gold, rears to the south, interposing an effectiye barrier to easy communication with areas farther south. To east
Heft, 39 Seiten.
Verlag: published by the American Schools of oriental Research 126 Inman Street Cambridge, mass..