Sardis (särˈdĭs) [key] or Sardes –dēz, ancient city of Lydia, W Asia Minor, at the foot of Mt. Tmolus, 35 mi (56 km) NE of the modern Izmir, Turkey. As capital of Lydia, it was the political and cultural center of Asia Minor from 650 B.C. until the death of Croesus (c.547 B.C.). The first gold and silver coins were minted there in the 6th cent. B.C. An almost impregnable citadel, Sardis was nevertheless captured in 499 by the Ionians in the Persian Wars. In 133 it passed to the Romans. After being destroyed by an earthquake in A.D. 17, it was rebuilt by the Romans. The city was destroyed by Timur in the 14th cent. The actual site of the city was not discovered until 1958. Excavations have uncovered the Roman baths and gymnasium, the Greek Temple of Artemis (dating from the 4th cent. B.C.), the walls of the city when it was under Lydian rule, and inscriptions in old Lydian.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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