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|Ancient Region of Anatolia|
|Byzantine shops at Sardis|
|Western Anatolia, Salihli, Manisa, Turkey|
|15-14th c. BC (as Arzawa) 1200-546 BC|
Lydia (Assyrian: Luddu; Greek: Λυδία) was an Iron Age kingdom of western Asia Minor located generally east of ancient Ionia in the modern Turkish provinces of Uşak, Manisa and inland İzmir. Its population spoke an Anatolian language known as Lydian.
At its greatest extent, the Kingdom of Lydia covered all of western Anatolia. Lydia (known as Sparda by the Achaemenids) was a satrapy (province) of the Achaemenid Empire, with Sardis as its capital. Tabalus, appointed by Cyrus the Great, was the first satrap (governor). (See: Lydia (satrapy)).
Lydia was later the name for a Roman province. Coins are thought to have been invented in Lydia around the 7th century BC.
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), Aramaic Saparda, Babylonian Sapardu, Elamitic Išbarda. These in the Greek tradition are associated with Sardis, the capital city of Gyges, constructed in the 7th century BC.
An Etruscan and Lydian connection has been a long-standing subject of conjecture. The Greek historian Herodotus stated that the Etruscans came from Lydia, repeated in Virgil's epic poem the Aeneid, and Etruscan-like language was found on the Lemnos stele. However, recent decipherment of Lydian and its classification as an Anatolian language mean that Etruscan and Lydian were possibly not even in the same language family. Nevertheless, a recent genetic study of likely Etruscan descendants in Tuscany found strong similarities with individuals in western Anatolia.Geography
The boundaries of historical Lydia varied across the centuries. It was first bounded by Mysia, Caria, Phrygia and coastal Ionia. Later on, the military power of Alyattes and Croesus expanded Lydia into an empire, with its capital at Sardis, which controlled all Asia Minor west of the River Halys, except Lycia. Lydia never again shrank back into its original dimensions. After the Persian conquest the Maeander was regarded as its southern boundary, and under Rome, Lydia comprised the country between Mysia and Caria on the one side and Phrygia and the Aegean on the other.Language
The Lydian language was an Indo-European language in the Anatolian language family, related to Luwian and Hittite. It used many prefixes and particles. Lydian finally became extinct during the 1st century BC.History Early history: Maeonia and Lydia
Lydia arose as a Neo-Hittite kingdom following the collapse of the Hittite Empire in the 12th century BC. In Hittite times, the name for the region had been Arzawa, a Luwian-speaking area. 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). Homer describes their capital not as Sardis but as Hyde (Iliad xx. 385); Hyde may have been the name of the district where Sardis stood. Later, Herodotus (Histories i. 7) adds that the "Meiones" were renamed Lydians after their king, Lydus (Λυδός), son of Atys, in the mythical epoch that preceded the rise of 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 Jeremiah 46.9, has been similarly considered, beginning with Flavius Josephus, to be derived from the eponymous Lud son of Shem; however Hippolytus of Rome (AD 234) offered an alternative view that the Lydians were descended from Ludim, son of Mizraim. In Biblical times, the Lydian warriors were also famous archers. Some Maeones still existed in historical times in the upland interior along the River Hermus, where a town called Maeonia existed, according to Pliny the Elder (Natural History book v:30) and Hierocles.Lydia in Greek mythology
Lydian mythology is virtually unknown, and their literature and rituals lost, in the absence of any monuments or archaeological finds with extensive inscriptions; therefore those myths involving Lydia are mainly in the realm of Greek mythology.
For the Greeks, Tantalus was a primordial ruler of mythic Lydia, and Niobe his proud daughter; her husband Zethos linked the affairs of Lydia with Thebes, and through Pelops the line of Tantalus was part of the founding myths of Mycenae's second dynasty.
In Greek myth, Lydia was also the first home of the double-axe, the labrys. 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; and captured the simian tricksters, the Cercopes. Accounts speak of at least one son born to Omphale and Heracles: Diodorus Siculus (4.31.8) and Ovid (Heroides 9.54) mention a son Lamos, while pseudo-Apollodorus (Bibliotheke 2.7.8) gives the name Agelaus, and Pausanias (2.21.3) names Tyrsenus son of Heracles by "the Lydian woman."
All three heroic ancestors indicate a Lydian dynasty claiming descent from Heracles. 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 recurring legend that the Etruscan civilization was founded by colonists from Lydia led by Tyrrhenus, brother of Lydus. However, Dionysius of Halicarnassus was skeptical of this story, pointing out that the Etruscan language and customs were known to be totally dissimilar to those of the Lydians. Later chronographers also ignored Herodotus's statement that Agron was the first to be a king, and included Alcaeus, Belus, and Ninus in their list of kings of Lydia. Strabo (5.2.2) makes Atys, father of Lydus and Tyrrhenus, to be a descendant of Heracles and Omphale. All other accounts place Atys, Lydus, and Tyrrhenus among the pre-Heraclid kings of Lydia. The gold deposits in the river Pactolus that were the source of the proverbial wealth of Croesus (Lydia's last historical 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 declares his country to be Lydia.First coinageEarly 6th century BC one-third stater coin.
According to Herodotus, the Lydians were the first people to introduce the use of gold and silver coin and the first to establish retail shops in permanent locations. It's not clear, however, whether Herodotus meant that the Lydians were the first to introduce coins of pure gold and pure silver or the first precious metal coins in general. Despite this ambiguity, this statement of Herodotus is one of the pieces of evidence often cited in behalf of the argument that Lydians invented coinage, at least in the West, even though the first coins were neither gold nor silver but an alloy of the two.
The dating of these first stamped coins is one of the most frequently debated topics in ancient numismatics, with dates ranging from 700 BC to 550 BC, but the most commonly held view is that they were minted at or near the beginning of the reign of King Alyattes (sometimes incorrectly referred to as Alyattes II), who ruled Lydia c. 610-550 BC. 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.
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 more correctly be referred to as a stater, after a type of a transversely held scale, the weights used in such a scale, (from ancient Greek ίστημι=to stand) and which also means "standard." These coins were stamped with a lion's head adorned with what's likely a sunburst, which was the king's symbol. 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.
Alyattes' son was Croesus, who became synonymous with wealth. 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 Dynasties Main article: List of Kings of LydiaMap of the Lydian Empire in its final period of sovereignty under Croesus, 6th century BC. (7th century BC boundary in red)
Lydia was ruled by three dynasties:
Atyads (1300 BC or earlier) - Heraclids (Tylonids) (to 687 BC) According to Herodotus the Heraclids ruled for 22 generations during the period from 1185 BC, lasting for 505 years). Alyattes was the king of Lydia in 776 BC. The last king of this dynasty was Myrsilos or Candaules.
The Battle of the Eclipse was the final battle in a five year war between Alyattes II of Lydia and Cyaxares of the Medes. It took place on May 28, 585 BC, and ended abruptly due to a total solar eclipse.
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 led to a stalemate, thus forcing the Lydians to retreat to their capital city of Sardis. Some months later the Persian and Lydian king met at the Battle of Thymbra. Cyrus won and captured the capital city of Sardis.Hellenistic Empire
Lydia remained a satrapy after Persia's conquest by the Macedonian king Alexander III of Macedon. When Alexander's empire fell apart after his death, Lydia went to the major Asian diadoch dynasty, the Seleucids, and when it was unable to maintain its territory in Asia Minor, Lydia fell to the Attalid dynasty of Pergamum. Its last king avoided the spoils and ravage of a Roman conquest war by leaving the realm by testament to the Roman Empire.Roman province of AsiaRoman province of AsiaPhoto of a 15th century map showing Lydia
When the Romans entered its 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 of 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" who came from Thyatira, in what had once been the satrapy of Lydia. Christianity spread rapidly in the 3rd century AD, centered on the nearby Exarchate of Ephesus.
Lydia had numerous Christian communities, and after Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire in the 4th century 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.Roman province of Lydia
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 secunda, Pisidia and the Insulae (Ionian islands), 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 and Thraciae (on the Balkans, roughly Bulgaria). 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 for Islam, forming the Sultanate of Ikonion, Lydia remained part of the Byzantine Empire. During the occupation of Constantinople in the Fourth Crusade, Lydia continued to be a part of the Byzantine orthodox 'Greek Empire' based at Nicaea.Under Turkish rule
Lydia finally fell to new Turkish beyliks, which were all absorbed by the Ottoman state in 1390. The area became part of the Ottoman Aydın Province (vilayet), ending up as the westernmost part of the modern republic of Turkey.Lydian gods
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