Lydia

Summary

Lydia (Lydian: ‎𐤮𐤱𐤠𐤭𐤣𐤠, Śfarda; Aramaic: Lydia; Greek: Λυδία, Lȳdíā; Turkish: Lidya) was an Iron Age kingdom of western Asia Minor located generally east of ancient Ionia in the modern western Turkish provinces of Uşak, Manisa and inland Izmir. The ethnic group inhabiting this kingdom are known as the Lydians, and their language, known as Lydian, was a member of the Anatolian branch of the Indo-European language family. The capital of Lydia was Sardis.[1]

Lydia (Λυδία)
Ancient region of Anatolia
The Bath-Gymnasium complex at Sardis, late 2nd - early 3rd century AD, Sardis, Turkey (17098680002).jpg
The gymnasium complex of Sardis, the capital of Lydia
LocationWestern Anatolia, Salihli, Manisa, Turkey
State existed1200–546 BC
LanguageLydian
Historical capitalsSardis
Notable rulersGyges, Croesus
Persian satrapyLydia
Roman provinceAsia, Lydia
Map of the Lydian Kingdom in its final period of sovereignty under Croesus, c. 547 BC.

The Kingdom of Lydia existed from about 1200 BC to 546 BC. At its greatest extent, during the 7th century BC, it covered all of western Anatolia. In 546 BC, it became a province of the Achaemenid Persian Empire, known as the satrapy of Lydia or Sparda in Old Persian. In 133 BC, it became part of the Roman province of Asia.

Lydian coins, made of silver, are among the oldest coins in existence, dated to around the 7th century BC.[2][3]

Defining LydiaEdit

 
The temple of Artemis in Sardis.
 
Sardis Synagogue.

The endonym Śfard (the name the Lydians called themselves) survives in bilingual and trilingual stone-carved notices of the Achaemenid Empire: the satrapy of Sparda (Old Persian), Saparda, Babylonian Sapardu, Elamitic Išbarda, Hebrew סְפָרַד‎.[4] These in the Greek tradition are associated with Sardis, the capital city of King Gyges, constructed during the 7th century BC. Lydia is called Kisitan by Hayton of Corycus (in The Flower of the History of the East), a name which was corrupted to Quesiton in The Travels of Sir John Mandeville.

The region of the Lydian kingdom was during the 15th–14th centuries BCE part of the Arzawa kingdom. However, the Lydian language is usually not categorized as part of the Luwic subgroup, unlike the other nearby Anatolian languages Luwian, Carian, and Lycian.[5]

 
Portrait of Croesus, last King of Lydia, Attic red-figure amphora, painted ca. 500–490 BC.
 
Tripolis on the Meander is an ancient Lydian city in Turkey.
 
Tripolis on the Meander is an ancient Lydian city in Turkey.

GeographyEdit

 
Büyük Menderes River also known as Maeander is river in Lydia.

The boundaries of historical Lydia varied across the centuries. It was bounded first by Mysia, Caria, Phrygia and coastal Ionia. Later, the military power of Alyattes and Croesus expanded Lydia, which, with its capital at Sardis, controlled all Asia Minor west of the River Halys, except Lycia. After the Persian conquest the River Maeander was regarded as its southern boundary, and during imperial Roman times Lydia comprised the country between Mysia and Caria on the one side and Phrygia and the Aegean Sea on the other.

LanguageEdit

The Lydian language was an Indo-European language in the Anatolian language family, related to Luwian and Hittite. Due to its fragmentary attestation, the meanings of many words are unknown but much of the grammar has been determined. Similar to other Anatolian languages, it featured extensive use of prefixes and grammatical particles to chain clauses together.[6] Lydian had also undergone extensive syncope, leading to numerous consonant clusters atypical of Indo-European languages. Lydian finally became extinct during the 1st century BC.

HistoryEdit

Early history: Maeonia and LydiaEdit

Lydia developed after the decline of the Hittite Empire in the 12th century BC. In Hittite times, the name for the region had been Arzawa. According to Greek source, the original name of the Lydian kingdom was Maionia (Μαιονία), or Maeonia: Homer (Iliad ii. 865; v. 43, xi. 431) refers to the inhabitants of Lydia as Maiones (Μαίονες).[7] Homer describes their capital not as Sardis but as Hyde (Iliad xx. 385); Hyde may have been the name of the district in which Sardis was located.[8] Later, Herodotus (Histories i. 7) adds that the "Meiones" were renamed Lydians after their king Lydus (Λυδός), son of Atys, during the mythical epoch that preceded the Heracleid dynasty. This etiological eponym served to account for the Greek ethnic name Lydoi (Λυδοί). The Hebrew term for Lydians, Lûḏîm (לודים), as found in the Book of Jeremiah (46.9), has been similarly considered, beginning with Flavius Josephus, to be derived from Lud son of Shem;[9] however, Hippolytus of Rome (234 AD) offered an alternative opinion that the Lydians were descended from Ludim, son of Mizraim. During Biblical times, the Lydian warriors were famous archers. Some Maeones still existed during historical times in the upland interior along the River Hermus, where a town named Maeonia existed, according to Pliny the Elder (Natural History book v:30) and Hierocles (author of Synecdemus).

In Greek mythologyEdit

Lydian mythology is virtually unknown, and their literature and rituals have been lost due to the absence of any monuments or archaeological finds with extensive inscriptions; therefore, myths involving Lydia are mainly from Greek mythology.

For the Greeks, Tantalus was a primordial ruler of mythic Lydia, and Niobe his proud daughter; her husband Amphion associated Lydia with Thebes in Greece, and through Pelops the line of Tantalus was part of the founding myths of Mycenae's second dynasty. (In reference to the myth of Bellerophon, Karl Kerenyi remarked, in The Heroes of The Greeks 1959, p. 83. "As Lykia was thus connected with Crete, and as the person of Pelops, the hero of Olympia, connected Lydia with the Peloponnesos, so Bellerophontes connected another Asian country, or rather two, Lykia and Karia, with the kingdom of Argos".)

 
The Pactolus river, from which Lydia obtained electrum, a combination of silver and gold.

In Greek myth, Lydia had also adopted the double-axe symbol, that also appears in the Mycenaean civilization, the labrys.[10] Omphale, daughter of the river Iardanos, was a ruler of Lydia, whom Heracles was required to serve for a time. His adventures in Lydia are the adventures of a Greek hero in a peripheral and foreign land: during his stay, Heracles enslaved the Itones; killed Syleus, who forced passers-by to hoe his vineyard; slew the serpent of the river Sangarios (which appears in the heavens as the constellation Ophiucus)[11] and captured the simian tricksters, the Cercopes. Accounts tell of at least one son of Heracles who was born to either Omphale or a slave-girl: Herodotus (Histories i. 7) says this was Alcaeus who began the line of Lydian Heracleidae which ended with the death of Candaules c. 687 BC. Diodorus Siculus (4.31.8) and Ovid (Heroides 9.54) mentions a son called Lamos, while pseudo-Apollodorus (Bibliotheke 2.7.8) gives the name Agelaus and Pausanias (2.21.3) names Tyrsenus as the son of Heracles by "the Lydian woman". All three heroic ancestors indicate a Lydian dynasty claiming Heracles as their ancestor. Herodotus (1.7) refers to a Heraclid dynasty of kings who ruled Lydia, yet were perhaps not descended from Omphale. He also mentions (1.94) the legend that the Etruscan civilization was founded by colonists from Lydia led by Tyrrhenus, brother of Lydus. Dionysius of Halicarnassus was skeptical of this story, indicating that the Etruscan language and customs were known to be totally dissimilar to those of the Lydians. In addition, the story of the "Lydian" origins of the Etruscans was not known to Xanthus of Lydia, an authority on the history of the Lydians.[12]

Later chronologists ignored Herodotus' statement that Agron was the first Heraclid to be a king, and included his immediate forefathers Alcaeus, Belus, and Ninus in their list of kings of Lydia. Strabo (5.2.2) has Atys, father of Lydus and Tyrrhenus, as a descendant of Heracles and Omphale but that contradicts virtually all other accounts which name Atys, Lydus, and Tyrrhenus among the pre-Heraclid kings and princes of Lydia. The gold deposits in the river Pactolus that were the source of the proverbial wealth of Croesus (Lydia's last king) were said to have been left there when the legendary king Midas of Phrygia washed away the "Midas touch" in its waters. In Euripides' tragedy The Bacchae, Dionysus, while maintaining his human disguise, declares his country to be Lydia.[13]

Lydians, the Tyrrhenians and the EtruscansEdit

The relationship between the Etruscans of northern and central Italy and the Lydians has long been a subject of conjecture. While the Greek historian Herodotus stated that the Etruscans originated in Lydia, the 1st-century BC historian Dionysius of Halicarnassus, a Greek living in Rome, dismissed many of the ancient theories of other Greek historians and postulated that the Etruscans were indigenous people who had always lived in Etruria in Italy and were different from both the Pelasgians and the Lydians.[14] Dionysius noted that the 5th-century historian Xanthus of Lydia, who was originally from Sardis and was regarded as an important source and authority for the history of Lydia, never suggested a Lydian origin of the Etruscans and never named Tyrrhenus as a ruler of the Lydians.[14]

In modern times, all the evidence gathered so far by etruscologists points to an indigenous origin of the Etruscans.[15][16] The classical scholar Michael Grant commented on Herodotus' story, writing that it "is based on erroneous etymologies, like many other traditions about the origins of 'fringe' peoples of the Greek world".[17] Grant writes there is evidence that the Etruscans themselves spread it to make their trading easier in Asia Minor when many cities in Asia Minor, and the Etruscans themselves, were at war with the Greeks.[18] The French scholar Dominique Briquel also disputed the historical validity of Herodotus' text. Briquel demonstrated that "the story of an exodus from Lydia to Italy was a deliberate political fabrication created in the Hellenized milieu of the court at Sardis in the early 6th century BC."[19][20] Briquel also commented that "the traditions handed down from the Greek authors on the origins of the Etruscan people are only the expression of the image that Etruscans' allies or adversaries wanted to divulge. For no reason, stories of this kind should be considered historical documents".[21]

Archaeologically there is no evidence for a migration of the Lydians into Etruria.[15][16] The most ancient phase of the Etruscan civilization is the Villanovan culture, which begins around 900 BC,[22][23][24][25][26] which itself developed from the previous late Bronze Age Proto-Villanovan culture in the same region in Italy in the last quarter of the second millennium BC,[27] which in turn derives from the Urnfield culture of Central Europe and has no relation with Asia Minor, and there is nothing about it that suggests an ethnic contribution from Asia Minor or the Near East or that can support a migration theory.[28]

Linguists have identified an Etruscan-like language in a set of inscriptions on the island of Lemnos, in the Aegean Sea. Since the Etruscan language was a Pre-Indo-European language and neither Indo-European or Semitic,[29] Etruscan was not related to Lydian, which was a part of the Anatolian branch of the Indo-European languages.[29] Instead, Etruscan language and the Lemnian language are considered part of the pre-Indo-European Tyrrhenian language family together with the Rhaetian language of the Alps, which takes its name from the Rhaetian people.[30]

A 2013 genetic study suggested that the maternal lineages – as reflected in mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) – of western Anatolians, and the modern population of Tuscany had been largely separate for 5,000 to 10,000 years (with a 95% credible interval); the mtDNA of Etruscans was most similar to modern Tuscans and Neolithic populations from Central Europe. This was interpreted as suggesting that the Etruscan population were descended from the Villanovan culture.[31][32] The study concluded that the Etruscans were indigenous, and that a link between Etruria, modern Tuscany and Lydia dates back to the Neolithic period, at the time of the migrations of Early European Farmers from Anatolia to Europe.[31][32]

A 2019 genetic study published in the journal Science analyzed the autosomal DNA of 11 Iron Age samples from the areas around Rome concluding that Etruscans (900–600 BC) and the Latins (900–500 BC) from Latium vetus were genetically similar.[33] Their DNA was a mixture of two-thirds Copper Age ancestry (EEF + WHG; Etruscans ~66–72%, Latins ~62–75%) and one-third Steppe-related ancestry (Etruscans ~27–33%, Latins ~24–37%).[33] The results of this study once again suggested that the Etruscans were indigenous, and that the Etruscans also had Steppe-related ancestry despite continuing to speak a pre-Indo-European language.

First coinageEdit

 
Early 6th century BC Lydian electrum coin (one-third stater denomination).

According to Herodotus, the Lydians were the first people to use gold and silver coins and the first to establish retail shops in permanent locations.[34] It is not known, however, whether Herodotus meant that the Lydians were the first to use coins of pure gold and pure silver or the first precious metal coins in general.[35] Despite this ambiguity, this statement of Herodotus is one of the pieces of evidence most often cited on behalf of the argument that Lydians invented coinage, at least in the West, although the first coins (under Alyattes I, reigned c.591–c.560 BC) were neither gold nor silver but an alloy of the two called electrum.[36]

The dating of these first stamped coins is one of the most frequently debated topics of ancient numismatics,[37] with dates ranging from 700 BC to 550 BC, but the most common opinion is that they were minted at or near the beginning of the reign of King Alyattes (sometimes referred to incorrectly as Alyattes II).[38][39] The first coins were made of electrum, an alloy of gold and silver that occurs naturally but that was further debased by the Lydians with added silver and copper.[40]

Croeseids
 
Gold Croeseid, minted by king Croesus circa 561–546 BCE. (10.7 grams, Sardis mint).
 
Silver Croeseid, minted by king Croesus, circa 560–546 BCE (10.7 grams, Sardis mint)
The gold and silver Croeseids formed the world's first bimetallic monetary system circa 550 BCE.[41]

The largest of these coins are commonly referred to as a 1/3 stater (trite) denomination, weighing around 4.7 grams, though no full staters of this type have ever been found, and the 1/3 stater probably should be referred to more correctly as a stater, after a type of a transversely held scale, the weights used in such a scale (from ancient Greek ίστημι=to stand), which also means "standard."[42] These coins were stamped with a lion's head adorned with what is likely a sunburst, which was the king's symbol.[43] The most prolific mint for early electrum coins was Sardis which produced large quantities of the lion head thirds, sixths and twelfths along with lion paw fractions.[44] To complement the largest denomination, fractions were made, including a hekte (sixth), hemihekte (twelfth), and so forth down to a 96th, with the 1/96 stater weighing only about 0.15 grams. There is disagreement, however, over whether the fractions below the twelfth are actually Lydian.[45]

Alyattes' son was Croesus (Reigned c.560–c.546 BC), who became associated with great wealth. Croesus is credited with issuing the Croeseid, the first true gold coins with a standardised purity for general circulation,[41] and the world's first bimetallic monetary system circa 550 BCE.[41]

It took some time before ancient coins were used for commerce and trade. Even the smallest-denomination electrum coins, perhaps worth about a day's subsistence, would have been too valuable for buying a loaf of bread.[46] The first coins to be used for retailing on a large-scale basis were likely small silver fractions, Hemiobol, Ancient Greek coinage minted in Cyme (Aeolis) under Hermodike II then by the Ionian Greeks in the late sixth century BC.[47]

Sardis was renowned as a beautiful city. Around 550 BC, near the beginning of his reign, Croesus paid for the construction of the temple of Artemis at Ephesus, which became one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world. Croesus was defeated in battle by Cyrus II of Persia in 546 BC, with the Lydian kingdom losing its autonomy and becoming a Persian satrapy.

Autochthonous dynastiesEdit

According to Herodotus, Lydia was ruled by three dynasties from the second millennium BC to 546 BC. The first two dynasties are legendary and the third is historical. Herodotus mentions three early Maeonian kings: Manes, his son Atys and his grandson Lydus.[48] Lydus gave his name to the country and its people. One of his descendants was Iardanus, with whom Heracles was in service at one time. Heracles had an affair with one of Iardanus' slave-girls and their son Alcaeus was the first of the Lydian Heraclids.[49]

The Maeonians relinquished control to the Heracleidae and Herodotus says they ruled through 22 generations for a total of 505 years from c. 1192 BC. The first Heraclid king was Agron, the great-grandson of Alcaeus.[49] He was succeeded by 19 Heraclid kings, names unknown, all succeeding father to son.[49] In the 8th century BC, Meles became the 21st and penultimate Heraclid king and the last was his son Candaules (died c. 687 BC).[50][51]

The Mermnad EmpireEdit

GygesEdit

Available historical evidence suggests that Candaules was overthrown by a man named Gyges, of whose origins nothing is known except for the Greek historian Herodotus's claim that he was the son of a man named Dascylus.[52] Gyges was helped in his coup against Candaules by a Carian prince from Mylasa named Arselis,[53][54] suggesting that Gyges's Mermnad dynasty might have had good relations with Carian aristocrats thanks to which these latter would provide his rebellion with armed support against Candaules.[55] Gyges's rise to power happened in the context of a period of turmoil following the invasion of the Cimmerians, a nomadic people from the Pontic steppe who had invaded Western Asia, who around 675 BCE destroyed the previous major power in Anatolia, the kingdom of Phrygia.[56]

Immediately after Gyges had seized the Lydian throne, the oracle of the god Apollo at Delphi confirmed the legitimity of his kingship. To thank the oracle, Gyges offered it lavish offerings consisting of gold and silver. These offerings still stood at Delphi in the time of Herodotus, who referred to Gyges's dedications as the Gygadas (Ancient Greek: Γυγάδας Gugádas, from 𐤨𐤰𐤨𐤠𐤩𐤦𐤳 *Kukalis, meaning "of Kukas (Gyges)"), and remarked that most of the silver at Delphi was part of it. The most notable of these offerings were six craters made of gold and which collectively weighed thirty talents.[57][58]

 
Gyges tablet, British Museum

Gyges took advantage of the power vacuum created by the Cimmerian invasions to consolidate his kingdom and make it a military power, and, to this end, immediately after coming to power he attacked the Ionian Greek cities of Miletus, Smyrna, and Colophon.[56] Gyges was however unable to conquer Miletus and he made peace with the city,[59][60] following which Gyges accorded to the Milseians the privilege to colonise the coastal areas of Asia Minor under Lydian control.[61] Gyges's attempt to capture Smyrna likewise failed the inhabitants of the city were successfully able to repel his attacks, after which peaceful and friendly relations would be established between Lydia and this city, leading to the Lydians using the port of Smyrna to export their products and import grain, Lydian craftsmen being allowed to settle in Smyrniot workshops. These close ties between Smyrna and Lydia ended when Gyges's great-grandson Alyattes conquered Smyrna around 600 BCE. Gyges's attack on Colophon was more successful in that he was able to seize control of its lower city only, and Colophon soon regained its independence and would not be subjected to Lydian rule again until Alyattes conquered it.[55]

To the south, Gyges continued maintaining alliances with the dynasts of the various city-states of the Carians which required the Lydian and Carian rulers had to support each other, and his successors would continue to maintain these alliances and solidify them through matrimonial relations. These connections established between the Lydian kings and the Carian city-states ensured that the Lydians were able to control Caria through alliances with Carian dynasts ruling over fortified settlements, such as Mylasa and Pedasa, and through Lydian aristocrats settled in Carian cities, such as in Aphrodisias. In addition to diplomatic ties, the Lydians also shared strong cultural connections with the Carians, such as sharing the sanctuary of the god Zeus of Mylasa with the Carians and the Mysians because they believed these three peoples descended from three brothers.[55]

 
Lydian delegation at Apadana, circa 500 BC

Gyges entertained better relations with the leading Aeolian Greek city of Cyme, which had already established relations of friendship with Lydia during the preceding Heraclid dynasty, and with the Ionian Greek city of Ephesus, whose tyrant, Melas the Elder, married one of the daughters of Gyges. These friendly ties with Ephesus would be renewed by Gyges's son Ardys through the marriage of his daughter Lyde with Melas's grandson Miletus, and by Gyges's great-grandson Alyattes, who married one of his daughters to the Ephesian tyrant Melas the Younger, himself a descendant of both Melas the Elder and of Miletus. These friendly relations between Lydia and Ephesus would continue until they would be broken by Gyges's great-great-grandson Croesus.[55]

In 665 BCE, Gyges was faced with a war with the Cimmerians. Around the same time, according to Neo-Assyrian records, Gyges had a dream where the Assyrian god Aššur appeared to him and told him to seek help from Ashurbanipal and send him tribute. Gyges therefore contacted the Neo-Assyrian court by sending diplomats to Nineveh, but offered him presents only, rather than tribute, and therefore refused to become a vassal of Assyria. Gyges soon defeated the Cimmerian invaders without Assyrian help, and he sent Cimmerian soldiers captured while ravaging Lydian lands to Nineveh.[60][62]

After having repelled the Cimmerians, and with the leading Aeolian Greek city of Cyme already having good relations with Lydia, Gyges took advantage of the power vacuum caused by the destruction of the Phrygian kingdom by the Cimmerians to conquer the Troad region in northern Anatolia without facing much resistance, following which he installed Lydian settlers in the region and created a hunting reserve in Cyzicus. Under Lydian rule, the city of Ilium acquired an important position and became a local administrative centre from which the Lydians exerted their power over the whole Aegean coast of the Troad as well as the coast of the Hellespont where was located the cities of Achilleion, Abydos, and Neandreia. Furthermore, he Lydian rulers built connections with Illium so they could make profits out of the gold mines of Astyra. The southern part of the Troad, where were located Gargara, Antandrus, Assos, and Lamponeia to the south of Mount Ida and on the shore of the Edremit Gulf, was administered from Adrymettium.[55] In accordance with the monopoly of establishing colonies on lands ruled by the Lydians which Gyges had granted to Miletus, Greek settlers from that city founded the colony of Abydus.[61]

Gyges's extensive alliances with the Carian dynasts allowed him to recruit Carian and Ionian Greek soldiers to send overseas to assist the Egyptian king Psamtik I of the city of Sais, with whom he had established contacts around 662 BCE. With the help of these armed forces, Psamtik I united Egypt under his rule after eliminating the eleven other kinglets with whom he had been co-ruling Lower Egypt following Esarhaddon's and Ashurbanipal's invasions.[53][63][60][54]

Interpretations of these actions as an alliance between Lydia and Sais against Assyria, however, are inaccurate; Psamtik I's military activities were directed solely against the other local kinglets of Lower Egypt and not against Assyria, although Ashurbanipal disapproved of Psamtik I's actions since he knew he needed these kinglets' support to maintain Assyrian power in Egypt.[63] Moreover, not only had the Assyrians risen Sais into preeminence in Egypt after expelling the Saites' Kushite enemies from the country, but the two kings had signed a treaty with each other, and no hostilities between them is recorded. Thus Psamtik I and Ashurbanipal had remained allies ever since the former had been put in power with Assyrian military support. Furthermore, the silence of Assyrian sources concerning Psamtik I's expansion imply there was no hostility, whether overt or covert, between Assyria and Sais during Psamtik I's unification of Egypt under his rule.[63][60]

Likewise, Gyges's military support of Psamtik I was not directed against Assyria and is not mentioned as hostile to Assyria or allied with other countries against Assyria in Assyrian records;[63] the Assyrian disapproval of Gyges's support for Psamtik I was primarily motivated by Gyges's refusal to form an alliance with Assyria and his undertaking of these actions independently of Assyria, which the Assyrians interpreted as an act of arrogance, rather than by the support itself.[60]

Gyges's military support to Psamtik I lasted until 658 BCE, at which point he faced an impending Cimmerian invasion. The Cimmerians invaded Lydia again in 657 BCE, though not much is known about this attack except that Gyges survived it. This event is recorded in the Assyrian oracular reports, where it is called a "bad omen" for the "Westland", that is for Lydia.[60]

In 644 BCE, Lydia faced a third attack by the Cimmerians, led by their king Lygdamis. This time, the Lydians were defeated, Sardis was sacked, and Gyges was killed. Assyrian records blamed Gyges's defeat and death on his decision to act independently from Assyria by sending troops to Psamtik I, and his ending of diplomacy with Assyria, which the Assyrians interpreted as an act of arrogance.[63][60]

Ardys and SadyattesEdit

Gyges was succeeded by his son Ardys, who resumed diplomatic activity with Assyria and would also have to face the Cimmerians.[63][60] Ardys attacked the Ionian Greek city of Miletus and succeeded in capturing the city of Priene, after which Priene would remain under direct rule of the Lydian kingdom until its end.[64][55]

Ardys's reign was short-lived, likely due to the period of severe crisis Lydia was facing because of the Cimmerian invasions.[65] In 637 BCE, that is in Ardys's seventh regnal year, the Thracian Treres tribe who had migrated across the Thracian Bosporus and invaded Anatolia,[66] under their king Kobos, and in alliance with the Cimmerians and the Lycians, attacked Lydia.[60] They defeated the Lydians again and for a second time sacked the Lydian capital of Sardis, except for its citadel. It is probable that Ardys was killed during this Cimmerian attack.[65][67]

Ardys was succeeded by his son, Sadyattes, who had an even more short-lived reign:[65] although Herodotus claimed that Ardys had reigned for twelve years, modern estimates give him a much shorter reign of only two years.[65] Little is know about the reign of Sadyattes except that he began a war with the Ionian Greek maritime city of Miletus.[68]

Sadyattes died in 635 BCE. It is possible that, like his grandfather Gyges and maybe his father Ardys as well, he died fighting the Cimmerians.[65]

AlyattesEdit

Amidst extreme turmoil, Sadyattes was succeeded in 635 BCE by his son Alyattes, who would transform Lydia into a powerful empire.[69][65] Alyattes started his reign by continuing the hostilities with the Ionian city of Miletus started by Sadyattes. Alyattes's war with Miletus consisted largely of a series of raids to capture the Milesians' harvest of grain, which were severely lacking in the Lydian core regions. These hostilities lasted until Alyattes's sixth year (c. 630 BCE), when he finally made peace with the city's tyrant Thrasybulus, and a treaty of friendship as well as one of military alliance was concluded between Lydia and Miletus whereby, since Miletus lacked auriferous and other metallurgic resources while cereals were scarce in Lydia, trade of Lydian metal in exchange of Milesian cereal was initiated to seal these treaties, according to which Miletus voluntarily provided Lydia with military auxiliaries and would profit from the Lydian control of the routes in inner Anatolia, and Lydia would gain access to the markets and maritime networks of the Milesians in the Black Sea and at Naucratis. Herodotus's account of Alyattes's illness, caused by Lydian troops' destruction of the temple Athena in Assesos, and which was cured after he heeded the Pythia and rebuilt two temples of Athena in Assesos and then made peace with Miletus, is a largely legendary account of these events which appears to not be factual. This legendary account likely arose as a result of Alyattes's offerings to the sanctuary of Delphi.[55][70][52]

Unlike with the other Greek cities of Anatolia, Alyattes always maintained very good relations with Ephesus, to whose ruling dynasty the Mermnads were connected by marriage: Alyattes's great-grandfather had married one of his daughters to the Ephesian tyrant Melas the Elder: Alyattes's grandfather Ardys had married his daughter Lyde to a grandson of Melas the Elder named Miletus (Lyde would later marry her own brother Sadyattes, and Alyattes would be born from this marriage); and Alyattes himself married one of his own daughters to the then tyrant of Miletus, a descendant of Miletus named Melas the Younger, and from this union would be born Pindar of Ephesus. One of the daughters of Melas the Younger might have in turn married Alyattes and become the mother of his less famous son, Pantaleon. Thanks to these close ties, Ephesus had never been subject to Lydian attacks and was exempt from paying tribute and offering military support to Lydia, and both the Greeks of Ephesus and the Anatolian peoples of the region, that is the Lydians and Carians, shared in common the temple of an Anatolian goddess equated by the Greeks to their own goddess Artemis. Lydia and Ephesus also shared important economic interests which allowed Ephesus to hold an advantageous position between the maritime trade routes of the Aegean Sea and the continental trade routes going through inner Anatolia and reaching Assyria, thus acting as an intermediary between the Lydian kingdom which controlled access to the trade routes leading to the inside of Asia and the Greeks inhabiting the European continent and the Aegean islands, and allowing Ephesus to profit from the goods transiting across its territory without fear of any military attack by the Lydians. These connections in turn provided Lydia with a port through which it could have access to the Mediterranean Sea[55]

Like his great-grandfather Gyges, Alyattes also dedicated lavish offerings to the oracle of the god Apollo at Delphi. According to the Greek historian Herodotus, Alyattes's offerings consisted of a large silver crater and an iron crater-stand which had been made by welding by Glaucus of Chios, thus combining Lydian and Ionian artistic traditions.[71][52]

In the south, Alyattes continued what had been the Lydian policy since Gyges's reign of maintaining alliances with the city-states of the Carians, with whom the Lydians also had strong cultural connections, such as sharing the sanctuary of the god Zeus of Mylasa with the Carians and the Mysians because they believed these three peoples descended from three brothers. These alliances between the Lydian kings and the various Carian dynasts required the Lydian and Carian rulers had to support each other, and to solidify these alliances, Alyattes married a woman from the Carian aristocracy with whom he had a son, Croesus, who would eventually succeed him.[55]

Alyattes had inherited more than one war from his father, and soon after his ascension and early during his reign, with Assyrian approval[72] and in alliance with the Lydians,[73] the Scythians under their king Madyes entered Anatolia, expelled the Treres from Asia Minor, and defeated the Cimmerians so that they no longer constituted a threat again, following which the Scythians extended their domination to Central Anatolia[74] until they were themselves expelled by the Medes from Western Asia in the 590s BCE.[60] This final defeat of the Cimmerians was carried out by the joint forces of Madyes, who Strabo credits with expelling the Cimmerians from Asia Minor, and of Alyattes, whom Herodotus and Polyaenus claim finally defeated the Cimmerians.[75]

 
Lydia's borders under the reign of Alyattes's son Croesus

Immediately after this first victory of his over the Cimmerians, Alyattes expelled from the Lydian borderlands a final remaining pocket of Cimmerian presence who had been occupying the nearby city of Antandrus for one century, and to facilitate this he re-founded the city of Adramyttium in Aeolis. Alyattes installed his son Croesus as the governor of Adramyttium, and he soon expelled these last remaining Cimmerians from Asia Minor. Adramyttium was moreso an important site for Lydia because it was situated near Atarneus and Astyra, where rich mines were located.[55]

Alyattes turned towards Phrygia in the east. The kings of Lydia and of the former Phrygian kingdom had already entertained friendly relations before the destruction of the latter by the Cimmerians. After defeating the Cimmerians, Alyattes took advantage of the weakening of the various polities all across Anatolia by the Cimmerian raids and used the lack of a centralised Phrygian state and the traditionally friendly relations between the Lydian and Phrygian elites to extend Lydian rule eastwards to Phrygia. Lydian presence in Phrygia is archaeologically attested by the existence of a Lydian citadel in the Phrygian capital of Gordion, as well as Lydian architectural remains in northwest Phrygia, such as in Dascylium, and in the Phrygian Highlands at Midas City. Lydian troops might have been stationed in the aforementioned locations as well as in Hacıtuğrul, Afyonkarahisar, and Konya, which would have provided to the Lydian kingdom access to the produce and roads of Phrygia. The presence of a Lydian ivory plaque at Kerkenes Daǧ suggests that Alyattes's control of Phrygia might have extended to the east of the Halys River to include the city of Pteria, with the possibility that he may have rebuilt this city and placed a Phrygian ruler there: Pteria's strategic location would have been useful in protecting the Lydian Empire from attacks from the east, and its proximity to the Royal Road would have made of the city an important centre from which caravans could be protected. [76][52] Phrygia under Lydian rule would continue to be administered by its local elites, such as the ruler of Midas City who held Phrygian royal titles such as lawagetai (king) and wanaktei (commander of the armies), but were under the authority of the Lydian kings of Sardis and had a Lydian diplomatic presence at their court, following the framework of the traditional vassalage treaties used since the period of the Hittite and Assyrian empires, and according to which the Lydian king imposed on the vassal rulers a "treaty of vassalage" which allowed the local Phrygian rulers to remain in power, in exchange of which the Phrygian vassals had the duty to provide military support and sometimes offer rich tribute to the Lydian kingdom. The status of Gordion and Dascylium is however less clear, and it is uncertain whether they were also ruled by local Phrygian kings vassal to the Lydian king, or whether they were directly ruled by Lydian governors.[76]

In 600 BCE, Alyattes resumed his military activities in the west, and the second Ionian city he attacked was Smyrna despite the Lydian kings having previously established good relations with the Smyrniotes in the aftermath of a failed attack of Gyges on the city, leading to the Lydians using the port of Smyrna to export their products and import grain, Lydian craftsmen being allowed to settle in Smyrniot workshops, and Alyattes having provided funding to the inhabitants of the city for the construction of their temple of Athena. Alyattes was thus able to acquire a port which gave the Lydian kingdom permanent access to the sea and a stable source of grain to feed the population of his kingdom through this attack. Smyrna was placed under the direct rule of a member of the Mermnad dynasty, and Alyattes had new fortification walls built for Smyrna from around 600 to around 590 BCE. Although under direct Lydian rule Smyrna's temple of Athena and its houses were rebuilt and the city was not forced to provide the Lydian kingdom with military troops or tribute, Smyrna itself was in ruins, and it would only be around 580 BCE, under the reign of Alyattes's son Croesus, that Smyrna would finally start to recover.[55][70][52]

Alyattes also initially initiated friendly relations with the Ionian city of Colophon, which included a military alliance according to which the city had to offer the service of its famous and feared cavalry, which was itself made up of the aristocracy of Colophon, to the Lydian kingdom should Alyattes request their help. Following the capture of Smyrna, Alyattes attacked the Ionian city of Clazomenae, but the inhabitants of the city managed to successfully repel him with the help of the Colophonian cavalry. Following Alyattes's defeat, the Lydian kingdom and the city of Clazomenae concluded a reconciliation agreement which allowed Lydian craftsmen to operate in Clazomenae and allowed the kingdom of Lydia itself to participate in maritime trade, most especially in the olive oil trade produced by the craftsmen of Clazomenae, but also to use the city's port to export products manufactured in Lydia proper. Soon after capturing Smyrna and his failure to capture Clazomenae, Alyattes summoned the Colophonian cavalry to Sardis, where he had them massacred in violation of hospitality laws and redistributed their horses to Lydian cavalrymen, following which he placed Colophon itself under direct Lydian rule. The reason for Alyattes's breaking of the friendly relations with Colophon are unknown, although the archaeologist John Manuel Cook has suggested that Alyattes might have concluded a treaty of friendship and a military alliance with Colophon to secure the city's non-interference in his military operations against the other Greek cities on the western coast of Asia Minor, but Colophon first violated these agreements with Alyattes by supporting Clazomenae with its cavalry against Alyattes's attack, prompting the Lydian king to retaliate by massacring the mounted aristocracy of Colophon.[55][70]

The status of the other Ionian Greek cities on the western coast of Asia Minor, that is Teos, Lebedus, Teichiussa, Melie, Erythrae, Phocaea and Myus, is still uncertain for the period of Alyattes's reign.[55]

At some point in the later years of his reign, Alyattes conducted a military campaign in Caria, although the reason for this intervention is yet unknown. Alyattes's son Croesus, as governor of Adramyttium, had to provide his father with Ionian Greek mercenaries for this war.[55]

With the defeat of the Cimmerians having created a power vacuum in Anatolia, Alyattes continued his expansionist policy in the east, and of all the peoples to the west of the Halys River whom Herodotus claimed Alyattes's successor Croesus ruled over - the Lydians, Phrygians, Mysians, Mariandyni, Chalybes, Paphlagonians, Thyni and Bithyni Thracians, Carians, Ionians, Dorians, Aeolians, and Pamphylians - it is very likely that a number of these populations had already been conquered under Alyattes, especially since information is attested only about the relations between the Lydians and the Phrygians in both literary and archaeological sources, and there is no available data concerning relations between the other mentioned peoples and the Lydian kings. The only populations Herodotus claimed were independent of the Lydian Empire were the Lycians, who lived in a mountainous country which would not have been accessible to the Lydian armies, and the Cilicians, who had already been conquered by Neo-Babylonian Empire. Modern estimates nevertheless suggest that it is not impossible that the Lydians might have subjected Lycia, given that the Lycian coast would have been important for the Lydians because it was close to a trade route connecting the Aegean region, the Levant, and Cyprus.[76][77]

 
Bin Tepe royal funeral tumulus (tomb of Alyattes, father of Croesus), Lydia, 6th century BC.
 
Tomb of Alyattes.

Alyattes's eastern conquests extended the Lydian Empire till the Upper Euphrates according to the scholar Igor Diakonoff, who identified Alyattes with the Biblical Gog.[78] This expansionism brought the Lydian Empire in conflict in the 590s BCE with the Medes, an Iranian people who had expelled the majority of the Scythians from Western Asia after participating in the destruction of the Neo-Assyrian Empire. After the majority of the Scythians were expelled from Western Asia by the Medes and returned to the Pontic Steppe during that decade,[79] a war broke out between the Median Empire and another group of Scythians, probably members of a splinter group who had formed a kingdom in what is now Azerbaijan. These Scythians left Median-ruled Transcaucasia and fled to Sardis, because the Lydians had been allied to the Scythians. After Alyattes refused to accede to the demands of the Median king Cyaxares that these Scythian refugees be handed to him, a war broke out between the Median and Lydian Empires in 590 BCE which was waged in eastern Anatolia beyond Pteria. This war lasted five years, until a solar eclipse occurred in 585 BCE during a battle (hence called the Battle of the Eclipse) opposing the Lydian and Median armies, which both sides interpreted as an omen to end the war. The Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar II and the king Syennesis of Cilicia acted as mediators in the ensuing peace treaty, which was sealed by the marriage of Cyaxares's son Astyages with Alyattes's daughter Aryenis, and the possible wedding of a daughter of Cyaxares with either Alyattes or with his son Croesus. The border between the Lydian and Median empires was fixed at a yet undetermined location in eastern Anatolia; the Graeco-Roman historians' traditional account of the Halys River as having been set as the border between the two kingdoms appears to have been a retroactive narrative construction based on symbolic role assigned by Greeks to the Halys as the separation between Lower Asia and Upper Asia as well as on the Halys being a later provincial border within the Achaemenid Empire.[78][80][76][81]

Alyattes died shortly after the Battle of the Eclipse, in 585 BCE itself,[65] following which Lydia faced a power struggle between his son Pantaleon, born from a Greek woman, and his other son Croesus, born from a Carian noblewoman, out of which the latter emerged successful. The tomb of Alyattes is located in Sardis at the site now called Bin Tepe, in a large tumulus measuring sixty metres in height and of a diameter of two hundred and fifty metres. The tomb consisted of an antechamber and a chamber with a door separating them, was built of well fitted and clamped large marble blocks, its walls were finely finished on the inside, and it contained a now lost crepidoma. The tomb of Alyattes was excavated by the Prussian Consul General Ludwig Peter Spiegelthal in 1853, and by American excavators in 1962 and the 1980s, although by then it had been broken in and looted by tomb robbers who left only alabastra and ceramic vessels. Before it was plundered, the tomb of Alyattes would likely have contained burial gifts consisting of furniture made of wood and ivory, textiles, jewellery, and large sets of solver and gold bowls, pitchers, craters, and ladles.[52]

CroesusEdit

During Croesus's tenure as governor of Adramyttium itself, a rivalry had developed between his son Pantaleon, born from a Greek woman, who might have been intended by Alyattes to be his successor, and his other son Croesus, born from a Carian noblewoman. Following Alyattes's death in 585 BCE, this rivalry became an open succession struggle out of which Croesus emerged victorious.[55]

Once Croesus's position as king was secure, he immediately launched a military campaign against the Ionian city of Ephesus. The ruling dynasty of Ephesus had engaged with friendly relations with Lydia consolidated by diplomatic marriages from the reign of Gyges until that of Alyattes: the Ephesian tyrant Pindar, who had previously supported Pantaleon in the Lydian succession struggle, was the son of a daughter of Alyattes, and was thus a nephew of Croesus. After Pindar rejected an envoy by Croesus demanding Ephesus to submit to Lydia, the Lydian king started to pressure the city and demanded that Pindar leave it and go into exile. After Pindar accepted these terms, Croesus annexed Ephesus into the Lydian Empire. Once Ephesus was under Lydian rule, Croesus provided patronage for the reconstruction of the Temple of Artemis, to which he offered a large number of marble columns as dedication to the goddess.[55]

Meanwhile the Ionian city of Miletus had been willingly sending tribute to Lydia in exchange of being spared from Lydian attacks because the overthrow of the city's last tyrants, Thoas and Damasenor, and the replacement of the tyranny by a system of magistrates had annulated the relations of friendship initiated by Alyattes and the former Milesian tyrant Thrasybulus.[55]

Croesus continued his attacks against the other Greek cities of the western coast of Asia Minor until he had subjugated all of mainland Ionia, Aeolis, and Doris, but he abandoned his plans of annexing the Greek city-states on the islands and he instead concluded treaties of friendship with them, which might have helped him participate in the lucrative trade the Aegean Greeks carried out with Egypt at Naucratis.[55]

The Lydians had already conquered Phrygia under the rule of Alyattes, who took advantage of the weakening of the various polities all across Anatolia by the Cimmerian raids and used the lack of a centralised Phrygian state and the traditionally friendly relations between the Lydian and Phrygian elites to extend Lydian rule eastwards to Phrygia. Lydian presence in Phrygia is archaeologically attested by the existence of a Lydian citadel in the Phrygian capital of Gordion, as well as Lydian architectural remains in northwest Phrygia, such as in Dascylium, and in the Phrygian Highlands at Midas City. Lydian troops might have been stationed in the aforementioned locations as well as in Hacıtuğrul, Afyonkarahisar, and Konya, which would have provided to the Lydian kingdom access to the produce and roads of Phrygia. The presence of a Lydian ivory plaque at Kerkenes Daǧ suggests that Alyattes's control of Phrygia might have extended to the east of the Halys River to include the city of Pteria, with the possibility that he may have rebuilt this city and placed a Phrygian ruler there: Pteria's strategic location would have been useful in protecting the Lydian Empire from attacks from the east, and its proximity to the Royal Road would have made of the city an important centre from which caravans could be protected. [76][52] Phrygia under Lydian rule would continue to be administered by its local elites, such as the ruler of Midas City who held Phrygian royal titles such as lawagetai (king) and wanaktei (commander of the armies), but were under the authority of the Lydian kings of Sardis and had a Lydian diplomatic presence at their court, following the framework of the traditional vassalage treaties used since the period of the Hittite and Assyrian empires, and according to which the Lydian king imposed on the vassal rulers a "treaty of vassalage" which allowed the local Phrygian rulers to remain in power, in exchange of which the Phrygian vassals had the duty to provide military support and sometimes offer rich tribute to the Lydian kingdom.[76]

This situation continued under the rule of Croesus, with one inscription attesting of the presence of Croesus's son Atys at the court of one local ruler of Midas City himself named Midas. At Midas City, Atys held the position of priest of the sacred fire of the mother goddess Aryastin, and through him Croesus provided patronage to the building of the religious monument in the city now known as the Midas Monument.[76]

The presence of Atys at the court of this Midas might have inspired the legend recounted by Herodotus, according to which Croesus had a dream in which Atys was killed by an iron spear, after which he prevented his son from leading military activities, but Atys nevertheless found death while hunting a wild boar which was ravaging Lydia, during which he was accidentally hit by the spear thrown by the Phrygian prince Adrastus, who had previously exiled himself to Lydia after accidentally killing his own brother.[82]

Croesus also brought Caria, whose various city-states had since Gyges been allied to the Mermnad dynasty, and from where Croesus's own mother originated, under the direct control of the Lydian Empire.[55]

Thus, according to Herodotus, Croesus ruled over all the peoples to the west of the Halys River - the Lydians, Phrygians, Mysians, Mariandyni, Chalybes, Paphlagonians, Thyni and Bithyni Thracians, Carians, Ionians, Dorians, Aeolians, and Pamphylians. However information only about the relations between the Lydians and the Phrygians is attested in both literary and archaeological sources, and there is no available data concerning relations between the other mentioned peoples and the Lydian kings; moreover, given this was the situation detailed by Herodotus under the reign of Croesus, it is very likely that a number of these populations had already been conquered under Alyattes. The only populations Herodotus claimed were independent of the Lydian Empire were the Lycians, who lived in a mountainous country which would not have been accessible to the Lydian armies, and the Cilicians, who had already been conquered by Neo-Babylonian Empire. Modern estimates nevertheless suggest that it is not impossible that the Lydians might have subjected Lycia, given that the Lycian coast would have been important for the Lydians because it was close to a trade route connecting the Aegean region, the Levant, and Cyprus.[76] Modern studies also consider doubtful the Graeco-Roman historians' traditional account of the Halys River as having been set as the border between the Lydian and the Median kingdom, which appears to have been a retroactive narrative construction based on symbolic role assigned by Greeks to the Halys as the separation between Lower Asia and Upper Asia as well as on the Halys being a later provincial border within the Achaemenid Empire. The eastern border of the kingdom of Croesus would thus have instead been further to the east of the Halys, at an undetermined point in eastern Anatolia.[78][80][76][83][84]

Croesus continued the friendly relations with the Medes concluded by his father Alyattes and the Median king Cyaxares after five years of war in 585 BCE, shortly before both their respective deaths that same year. As part of the peace treaty ending the war between Media and Lydia, Croesus's sister Aryenis had married Cyaxares's son and successor Astyages, who thus became Croesus's brother-in-law, whole a daughter of Cyaxares might have been married to Croesus. Croesus continued these good relations with the Medes after he succeeded Alyattes and Astyages succeeded Cyaxares.[76]

Under Croesus's rule, Lydia continued its good relations started by Gyges with the Saite Egyptian kingdom, then ruled by the pharaoh Amasis II. Both Croesus and Amasis OO had common interests in fostering trade relations at Naucratis with the Greeks, including with the Milesians who were under Lydian authority. These trade relations also functioned as access point for Greek mercenaries serving the Saite pharaohs.[76]

Croesus also established trade and diplomatic relations with the Neo-Babylonian Empire of Nabonidus, which ensured the transition of Lydian products towards Babylonian markets.[76]

Croesus also continued the good relations between Lydia and the sanctuary of the god Apollo in Delphi on continental Greece first established by his great-great-grandfather Gyges and maintained by his father Alyattes, and just like his ancestors, Croesus offered the sanctuary rich presents in dedication, including a lion made of gold and weighing ten talents. In exchange for the offerings of Croesus to the sanctuary of Apollo, the Lydians obtained precedence in consulting its oracle, were exempt from taxes, were allowed to sit at the first rank, and were granted the permission the become Delphian priests. These exchanges of gifts for privileges in turn meant that strong relations of hospitality existed between Lydia and Delphi due to which the Delphians had the duty to welcome, protect, and ensure the well-being of Lydian ambassadors.[85][55]

Croesus further increased his contacts with the Greeks on the European continent by establishing relations with the city-state of Sparta, to whom he provided the gold they needed to gild a statue of the god Apollo after the oracle of Delphi told them they would obtain this gold from Croesus.[55]

In 550 BCE, Croesus's brother-in-law, the Median king Astyages, was overthrown by his own grandson, the Persian king Cyrus the Great.[76] In a likely legendary event recounted by Herodotus, Croesus responded by consulting the oracle of Delphi, who told him that he would "destroy a great empire" should he attack Cyrus. This answer of the Delphian oracle remains one of the famous oracular statements from Delphi.[76] Likely legendary were also the responses of the oracles of Delphi and Amphiaraus telling Croesus to ally with the strongest of all Greeks, whom Croesus found out to be the state to which he had previously offered the gold which they had used for the gilding of a statue of the god Apollo, Sparta, shortly after its victory over its fellow Greek city-state of Argos in 547 BCE. The claim of Herodotus that Croesus, Amasis, and Nabonidus formed a defensive alliance against Cyrus of Persia appears to have been a retroactive exaggeration of the existing diplomatic and trade relations between Lydia, Egypt, and Babylon.[76]

Croesus first attacked Pteria, the capital of a Phrygian state vassal to the Lydians which might have attempted to rebel against Lydian suzerainty and instead declare its allegiance to the new Persian Empire of Cyrus. Cyrus retaliated by intervening in Cappadocia and attacking the Lydians at Pteria in a battle in which Croesus was defeated. After this first battle, Croesus burnt down Pteria to prevent Cyrus from using its strategic location and returned to Sardis. However, Cyrus followed Croesus and defeated the Lydian army again at Thymbra before besieging and capturing the Lydian capital of Sardis, thus bringing an end to the rule of the Mermnad dynasty and to the Lydian Empire. Lydia would never regain its independence and would remain a part of various successive empires.[76]

Although the dates for the battles of Pteria and Thymbra and of end of the Lydian empire have been traditionally fixed to 547 BCE,[85] more recent estimates suggest that Herodotus's account being unreliable chronologically concerning the fall of Lydia means that there are currently no ways of dating the fall of Sardis; theoretically, it may even have taken place after the fall of Babylon in 539 BC.[85][86]

Croesus's fate after the Persian conquest of Lydia is uncertain: Herodotus, the poet Bacchylides and Nicolaus of Damascus claimed that Croesus either tried to commit suicide on a pyre or was condemned by the Persians to be burnt at the stake until a thunderstorm's rain water extinguished the fire after either his or his son's prayers to the god Apollo (or after Cyrus heard Croesus calling the name of Solon). In most versions of the story, Cyrus kept Croesus as his advisor, although Bacchylides claimed that the god Zeus carried Croesus away to Hyperborea. Xenophon similarly claimed that Cyrus kept Croesus as his advisor while Ctesias claimed that Cyrus appointed Croesus as the governor of the city of Barene in Media.[76][85]

 
Croesus at the stake. Side A from an Attic red-figure amphora, ca. 500–490 BC

A passage from the Nabonidus Chronicle was long held to have referred to a military campaign of Cyrus against a country whose name has been largely erased except for the first cuneiform character which had been interpreted as Lu, extrapolated to be the first syllable of an Akkadian name for Lydia. This passage in the Nabonidus Chronicle would thus have referred to a campaign by Cyrus against Lydia around 547 BCE during which "marched against the country, killed its king, took his possessions, and put there a garrison of his own". However, the verb used in the Nabonidus Chronicle could be used both in the sense "to kill" and "to destroy as a military power", making any precise deduction of the fate of Croesus from it impossible.[85][87] More recent studies have moreover concluded that the non-erased character was Ú/U₂, making untenable the interpretation of the text as talking of a campaign against Lydia, and instead suggesting that the campaign was against Urartu.[86][88][89]

The scholar Max Mallowan argued that there is no evidence that Cyrus the Great killed Croesus, in particular rejected the account of burning on a pyre, and interpreted Bacchylides' narration as Croesus attempting suicide and then being saved by Cyrus.[90]

The historian Kevin Leloux instead maintained the reading of the Nabonidus Chronicle as referring to a campaign of Cyrus against Lydia to argue that Croesus was indeed executed by Cyrus. According to him, the story of Croesus and the pyre would have been imagined by the Greeks based on the fires started during the Persian capture of Sardis throughout the lower city, where the buildings were made largely of wood.[76]

In 2003, Stephanie West has argued that the historical Croesus did in fact die on the pyre, and that the stories of him as a wise advisor to the courts of Cyrus and Cambyses are purely legendary, showing similarities to the sayings of Ahiqar.[91] A similar conclusion is drawn in a recent article that makes a case for the proposal that the Lydian word Qλdãnś, both meaning 'king' and the name of a god, and pronounced /kʷɾʲ'ðãns/ with four consecutive Lydian sounds unfamiliar to ancient Greeks, could correspond to Greek Κροῖσος, or Croesus. If the identification is correct it might have the interesting historical consequence that king Croesus chose suicide at the stake and was subsequently deified.[92]

Persian EmpireEdit

 
Lydia, including Ionia, during the Achaemenid Empire.
 
Xerxes I tomb, Lydian soldier of the Achaemenid army, circa 480 BC

In 547 BC, the Lydian king Croesus besieged and captured the Persian city of Pteria in Cappadocia and enslaved its inhabitants. The Persian king Cyrus The Great marched with his army against the Lydians. The Battle of Pteria resulted in a stalemate, forcing the Lydians to retreat to their capital city of Sardis. Some months later the Persian and Lydian kings met at the Battle of Thymbra. Cyrus won and captured the capital city of Sardis by 546 BC.[93] Lydia became a province (satrapy) of the Persian Empire.

Hellenistic EmpireEdit

Lydia remained a satrapy after Persia's conquest by the Macedonian king Alexander III (the Great) of Macedon.

When Alexander's empire ended after his death, Lydia was possessed by the major Asian diadoch dynasty, the Seleucids, and when it was unable to maintain its territory in Asia Minor, Lydia was acquired by the Attalid dynasty of Pergamum. Its last king avoided the spoils and ravage of a Roman war of conquest by leaving the realm by testament to the Roman Empire.

Roman province of AsiaEdit

 
Roman province of Asia
 
Photo of a 15th-century map showing Lydia

When the Romans entered the capital Sardis in 133 BC, Lydia, as the other western parts of the Attalid legacy, became part of the province of Asia, a very rich Roman province, worthy of a governor with the high rank of proconsul. The whole west of Asia Minor had Jewish colonies very early, and Christianity was also soon present there. Acts of the Apostles 16:14–15 mentions the baptism of a merchant woman called "Lydia" from Thyatira, known as Lydia of Thyatira, in what had once been the satrapy of Lydia. Christianity spread rapidly during the 3rd century AD, based on the nearby Exarchate of Ephesus.

Roman province of LydiaEdit

Under the tetrarchy reform of Emperor Diocletian in 296 AD, Lydia was revived as the name of a separate Roman province, much smaller than the former satrapy, with its capital at Sardis.

Together with the provinces of Caria, Hellespontus, Lycia, Pamphylia, Phrygia prima and Phrygia secunda, Pisidia (all in modern Turkey) and the Insulae (Ionian islands, mostly in modern Greece), it formed the diocese (under a vicarius) of Asiana, which was part of the praetorian prefecture of Oriens, together with the dioceses Pontiana (most of the rest of Asia Minor), Oriens proper (mainly Syria), Aegyptus (Egypt) and Thraciae (on the Balkans, roughly Bulgaria).

Byzantine (and Crusader) ageEdit

Under the Byzantine emperor Heraclius (610–641), Lydia became part of Anatolikon, one of the original themata, and later of Thrakesion. Although the Seljuk Turks conquered most of the rest of Anatolia, forming the Sultanate of Ikonion (Konya), Lydia remained part of the Byzantine Empire. While the Venetians occupied Constantinople and Greece as a result of the Fourth Crusade, Lydia continued as a part of the Byzantine rump state called the Nicene Empire based at Nicaea until 1261.

Under Turkish ruleEdit

Lydia was captured finally by Turkish beyliks, which were all absorbed by the Ottoman state in 1390. The area became part of the Ottoman Aidin Vilayet (province), and is now in the modern republic of Turkey.

ChristianityEdit

Lydia had numerous Christian communities and, after Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire in the 4th century, Lydia became one of the provinces of the diocese of Asia in the Patriarchate of Constantinople.

The ecclesiastical province of Lydia had a metropolitan diocese at Sardis and suffragan dioceses for Philadelphia, Thyatira, Tripolis, Settae, Gordus, Tralles, Silandus, Maeonia, Apollonos Hierum, Mostene, Apollonias, Attalia, Hyrcania, Bage, Balandus, Hermocapella, Hierocaesarea, Acrassus, Dalda, Stratonicia, Cerasa, Gabala, Satala, Aureliopolis and Hellenopolis. Bishops from the various dioceses of Lydia were well represented at the Council of Nicaea in 325 and at the later ecumenical councils.[94]

Episcopal seesEdit

 
Church of St John, Philadelphia (Alaşehir)

Ancient episcopal sees of the late Roman province of Lydia are listed in the Annuario Pontificio as titular sees:[95]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

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SourcesEdit

Further readingEdit

  • Reid Goldsborough. "World's First Coin".

External linksEdit

  •   Media related to Lydia at Wikimedia Commons
  • Livius.org: Lydia

Coordinates: 40°N 30°E / 40°N 30°E / 40; 30