TURKEY Between Two Worlds





The sanctuary of Artemis is a huge temple, with in it’s front the oldest part, an altar from the 5th century BC. Soon after 300 BC the temple construction was started, and building continued for centuries. The cults of Zeus and the Roman Imperial Family may have been conducted here also. This was concluded because the cella has been divided. In 17 AD an earth quake may have required restoration. After antiquity the site was abandoned and plundered for building materials. By the 20th century only two columns that are still standing raised their capitals above ground. Excavations took place between 1910-1914 (a crane is still on the site). Probably built in the 5th century AD a Christian chapel at far end of the temple almost touches the buildings from the old religion.


Temple of Artemis
Artemis was the main goddess of the city and the temple dedicated to her in Sardis was one of the seven largest Greek temples (more than double the size of the Parthenon).
Artemis, known as Diana by the Romans, was the daughter of Zeus and twin of Apollo. She was the goddess of the hunt, the moon and fertility.


Known biblically as the home of the church that received the fifth of letters to the seven churches in Revelation, Sardis was the capital of the Lydian empire and one of the greatest cities of the ancient world.
Located on the banks of the Pactolus River, Sardis was 60 miles inland from Ephesus and Smyrna. The city was home to the famous bishop Melito in the 2nd century.


The chapel



To the South of the palaestra (central square for sports) of the bath-gymnasium complex you will see a while later lies the Synagogue. It was built in 230-250 and rennovated in the 4th century. It was in the form of a basilica, ending in an apse. In front of this one can still see a table like construction for offering, with eagles on its sides and two double-lions standing at their flanks. At the other end of the basilica are some raised pediments for religious purposes. The whole has been restored to an extent where it is hard to decide what’s original. But it works.


The synagogue of Sardis is notable for its size and location. In size it is one of the largest ancient synagogues excavated. In location it is found in the center of the urban center, instead of on the periphery as synagogues typically were. This attests to the strength and wealth of the Jewish community in the city. This synagogue came into use in the 3rd c. A.D.



In the 7th and 6th century BC a Lydian road was found at two metres below the Roman road. The consecutive roads span 2500 years, only in 1950 the road was shifted slightly to the South. The Roman road was twice as wide as the present road, it was 18,5 metres wide, paved with marble blocks and had covered portico’s at the flanks, with mosaics on their floors. The Roman pavement visible now dates from the 4th-6th centuries AD.

The gymnasium-bath house complex, visible across the orad, covered 23.000 square metres. It’s built in the “Imperial Style”, implying that it is symmetrical along one axis, with at one end a central hot house (caldarium). It is supposed to have been completed in the middle of the second century AD . It has been repaired and modified through the following centuries, until it was abandoned following the Sassanid invasion in 616.


A large complex built in center of the lower city in the 2nd century A.D. included a gymnasium and a bathhouse.


Ornamen bath complex
The complex was over five acres in size and its western part was characterized by large vaulted halls for bathing. The eastern part was a palaestra, a large open courtyard for exercise.


Along Roman road


More of the shops lining the street, and of course the street itself. Many of the shops carry modern signs indicating whose shop is was, and what was sold there. Amazing the archeologists know after all those years.


Byzantine church, when walking from the bath-synagogue complex to the Artemis temple one passes a Byzantine chapel that has seen better days. The ground plan is still visible, as are some of the domes.


Pyramid grave

When walking from the bath-synagogue complex to the Artemis temple one passes a hill where the “pyramid burial monument” should be. I think I found it, but the top seems to have gone missing.


Byzantine houses

"And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write...I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God. Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If... thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief" (Rev 3:1-3)









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