Lydia, ancient country, W Asia Minor, N of Caria and S of Mysia (now NW Turkey). The tyrant Gyges was the founder of the Mermnadae dynasty, which lasted from c.700 b.c. to 550 b.c. The little kingdom grew to an empire in the chaos that had been left after the fall of the Neo-Hittite kingdom. Lydia was proverbially golden with wealth, and the capital, Sardis, was magnificent. To Lydian rulers is ascribed the first use of coined money in the 7th cent. b.c. Lydia had close ties with the Greek cities of Asia, which were for a time within the Lydian empire. Cyrus the Great of Persia defeated (c.546 b.c.) Croesus, Lydia's last ruler, and Lydia was absorbed into the Persian Empire.
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