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Author: Laxman Burdak, IFS (R).
Map of Smyrna and other cities within the Lydian Empire.
Location of Sardis is near Ankara in Turkey
Sardis was capital of Lydia, shown on Map of Anatolia

Sardis (सरदिस) was an ancient city at the location of modern Sart (Sartmahmut before 19 October 2005) in Turkey's Manisa Province. Sardis was the capital of the ancient kingdom of Lydia,[1] one of the important cities of the Persian Empire, the seat of a proconsul under the Roman Empire, and the metropolis of the province Lydia in later Roman and Byzantine times. Its importance was due first to its military strength, secondly to its situation on an important highway leading from the interior to the Aegean coast, and thirdly to its commanding the wide and fertile plain of the Hermus.

Variants of name


Sardis was situated in the middle of Hermus valley, at the foot of Mount Tmolus, a steep and lofty spur which formed the citadel. It was about 4 kilometres south of the Hermus. Today, the site is located by the present day village of Sart, near Salihli in the Manisa province of Turkey, close to the Ankara - İzmir highway (approximately 72 kilometres from İzmir).

Jat clans


The Greek historian and father of history, Herodotus, notes that the city was founded by the sons of Hercules, the Heraclides.The earliest reference to Sardis is in The Persians of Aeschylus (472 BC); in the Iliad, the name Hyde seems to be given to the city of the Maeonian (i.e. Lydian) chiefs and in later times Hyde was said to be the older name of Sardis, or the name of its citadel. It is, however, more probable that Sardis was not the original capital of the Maeonians, but that it became so amid the changes which produced the powerful Lydian empire of the 8th century BC.

The city was captured by the Cimmerians in the 7th century BC, by the Persians in the 6th, by the Athenians in the 5th, and by Antiochus III the Great at the end of the 3rd century BC. In the Persian era, Sardis was conquered by Cyrus the Great and formed the end station for the Persian Royal Road which began in Persepolis, capital of Persia. During the Ionian Revolt, the Athenians burnt down the city. Sardis remained under Persian domination until it surrendered to Alexander the Great in 334 BC.

The early Lydian kingdom was very advanced in the industrial arts and Sardis was the chief seat of its manufactures. The most important of these trades was the manufacture and dyeing of delicate woolen stuffs and carpets. The stream Pactolus which flowed through the market-place "carried golden sands" in early antiquity, which was in reality gold dust out of Mount Tmolus. It was during the reign of King Croesus that the metallurgists of Sardis discovered the secret of separating gold from silver, thereby producing both metals of a purity never known before.[2] This was an economic revolution, for while gold nuggets panned or mined were used as currency, their purity was always suspect and a hindrance to trade. Such nuggets or coinage were naturally occurring alloys of gold and silver known as electrum and one could never know how much of it was gold and how much was silver. Sardis now could mint nearly pure silver and gold coins, the value of which could be — and was — trusted throughout the known world. This revolution made Sardis rich and Croesus' name synonymous with wealth itself. For this reason, Sardis is famed in history as the place where modern currency was invented.

Disaster came to the great city under the reign of the emperor Tiberius, when in AD 17, Sardis was destroyed by an earthquake, but it was rebuilt with the help of ten million sesterces from the Emperor and exempted from paying taxes for five years.[3] It was one of the great cities of western Asia Minor until the later Byzantine period.

Later, trade and the organization of commerce continued to be sources of great wealth. After Constantinople became the capital of the East, a new road system grew up connecting the provinces with the capital. Sardis then lay rather apart from the great lines of communication and lost some of its importance. It still, however, retained its titular supremacy and continued to be the seat of the metropolitan bishop of the province of Lydia, formed in AD 295. It was enumerated as third, after Ephesus and Smyrna, in the list of cities of the Thracesion thema given by Constantine Porphyrogenitus in the 10th century. However, over the next four centuries it was in the shadow of the provinces of Magnesia-upon-Sipylum and Philadelphia, which retained their importance in the region.

After 1071, the Hermus valley began to suffer from the inroads of the Seljuk Turks but the Byzantine general John Doukas reconquered the city in 1097, the successes of the general Philokales in 1118 relieved the district from later Turkish pressure and the ability of the Comneni dynasty together with the gradual decay of the Seljuk Sultanate of Rum meant that it remained under Byzantine dominion. When Constantinople was taken by the Venetians and Franks in 1204 Sardis came under the rule of the Byzantine Empire of Nicea. However once the Byzantines retook Constantinople in 1261, Sardis with the entire Asia Minor was neglected and the region eventually fell under the control of Ghazi (Ghazw) emirs, the Cayster valleys and a fort on the citadel of Sardis was handed over to them by treaty in 1306. The city continued its decline until its capture (and probable destruction) by the Turco-Mongol warlord Timur in 1402.

Jat History

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 Persian Empire, with Sardis as its capital. Tabalus, appointed by Cyrus the Great, was the first satrap (governor).

H. W. Bellew[4] writes....Herodotus gives some other instances of the transplanting of nations and tribes by king Darius after his return from the Skythian expedition. He says (Bk. v.) that, " Darius commanded Magabazus, whom he had left as his general in Thrakia, to remove the Paionoi from their abodes, and to bring to him themselves, their children, and their wives. "Magabazus accordingly

[Page-54]: invaded Paionia, and took- possession of their towns, and the Paionoi immediately gave themselves up to the Persians. Thus the Siropaionoi and Paioplai, and the tribes of the Paionoi as far as the Lake Prasias were removed from their abodes, and transported into Asia. But those about Mount Pangaius and near the Doberoi, the Agrianai, Odomantoi, and those who inhabit Lake Prasias itself, were not at all subdued by Megabazus. . . . Those of the Paionoi then who were subdued were taken to Asia. . . . Megabazus, leading with him the Paionoi, arrived at the Hellespont, and having crossed over from thence, came to Sardis, bringing the Paionoi with him. . . . The Paionoi, who had been carried away captive by Megabazus from the river Strymon, occupied a tract in Phrygia, and a village by themselves." The tribes named as thus transported into Phrygia are the Paioni, the Paioplai, and the Doberi. The Paioni on the river Strymon, not far from the Hellespont, were a branch of the Panni, or Pannoni, who gave their name to the country called Pannonia.

Dr S.M. Yunus Jaffery writes that under the same entry, the quotation of Adib Peshawar has also been given. Probably he has written about the Jats in Afghanistan:

“They are a clan of Hindus, now most of them have been honoured to adopt the Islamic faith. In the verbal history I have been told that people of Panni clan in Afghanistan are Jats in their origin. There are some small pockets of Jats in towns like Roudsar".[5]

Ch 1.24 Alexander in Lycia and Pamphylia

Arrian[6] writes....Some of the Macedonians who served in Alexander's army had married just before he undertook the expedition. He thought that he ought not to treat these men with neglect, and therefore sent them back from Caria to spend the winter in Macedonia with their wives. He placed them under the command of Ptolemy, son of Seleucus, one of the royal body-guards, and of the two generals Coenus, son of Polemocrates, and Meleager, son of Neoptolemus, because they were also newly married. He gave these officers instructions to levy as many horse and foot soldiers as they could from the country, when they returned to him and brought back the men who had been sent away with them. By this act more than by any other Alexander acquired popularity among the Macedonians. He also sent Cleander, son of Polemocrates, to levy soldiers in Peloponnesus,[1] and Parmenio to Sardis, giving him the command of a regiment of the Cavalry Companions, the Thessalian cavalry, and the rest of the Grecian allies. He ordered him to take the wagons to Sardis and to advance from that place into Phrygia.

He himself marched towards Lycia and Pamphylia, in order to gain command of the coast-land, and by that means render the enemy's fleet useless. The first place on his route was Hyparna, a strong position, having a garrison of Grecian mercenaries; but he took it at the first assault, and allowed the Greeks to depart from the citadel under a truce. Then he invaded Lycia and brought over the Telmissians by capitulation; and crossing the river Xanthus, the cities of Pinara, Xanthus, Patara, and about thirty other smaller towns were surrendered to him.[2] Having accomplished this, though it was now the very depth of winter, he invaded the land called Milyas,[3] which is a part of Great Phrygia, but at that time paid tribute to Lycia, according to an arrangement made by the Great King. Hither came envoys from the Phaselites,[4] to treat for his friendship, and to crown him with a golden crown; and the majority of the maritime Lycians also sent heralds to him as ambassadors to treat for the same object. He ordered the Phaselites and Lycians to surrender their cities to those who were despatched by him to receive them; and they were all surrendered. He soon afterwards arrived himself at Phaselis, and helped the men of that city to capture a strong fort which had been constructed by the Pisidians to overawe the country; and sallying forth from which those barbarians used to inflict much damage upon the Phaselites who tilled the land.[5]

1. See Arrian, ii. 20 infra.

2. The Marmarians alone defended their city with desperate valour. They finally set fire to it, and escaped through the Macedonian camp to the mountains. See Diodorus (xvii. 28). As to Xanthus the river, see Homer (Iliad, ii. 877; vi. 172); Horace (Carm., iv. 6, 26).

3. Lycia was originally called Milyas; but the name was afterwards applied to the high table in the north of Lycia, extending into Pisidia. See Herodotus, i. 173.

4. Phaselis was a seaport of Lycia on the Gulf of Pamphylia. It is now called Tekrova.

5. He also crowned with garlands the statue of Theodectes the rhetorician, which the people of Phaselis, his native city, had erected to his memory. This man was a friend and pupil of Aristotle, the tutor of Alexander. See Plutarch (Life of Alex., 17); Aristotle (Nicom. Ethics, vii. 7).


Ch 1.17 Alexander in Sardis and Ephesus

Having appointed Calas to the post of viceroy of the territory which had been under the rule of Arsites, and having commanded the inhabitants to pay to him the same tribute which they had paid to Darius, he ordered as many of the natives as came down from the mountains and surrendered to him to depart to their several abodes. He also acquitted the people of Zeleia[1] of blame, because he knew they had been compelled to assist the Persians in the war. He then despatched Parmenio to occupy Dascylium,[2] which he easily performed; for the garrison evacuated it. He himself advanced towards Sardis; and when he was about 70 stades[3] distant from that city, he was met by Mithrines, the commandant of the garrison in the Acropolis, accompanied by the most influential of the citizens of Sardis. The latter surrendered the city into his hands, and Mithrines the fortress and the money laid up in it. Alexander encamped near the river Hermus,[4] which is about twenty stades[5] distant from Sardis; but he sent Amyntas, son of Andromenes, to occupy the citadel of Sardis.[6] He took Mithrines with him, treating him with honour; and granted the Sardians and other Lydians the privilege of enjoying the ancient laws of Lydia, and permitted them to be free. He then ascended into the citadel, which was garrisoned by the Persians. And the position seemed to him a strong one; for it was very lofty, precipitous on every side, and fenced round by a triple wall. He therefore resolved to build a temple to the Olympian Zeus on the hill, and to erect an altar in it; but while he was considering which part of the hill was the most suitable site, suddenly a winter storm arose, though it was the summer season, loud claps of thunder were heard, and rain fell on the spot where the palace of the kings of Lydia had stood. From this Alexander thought that the deity had revealed to him where the temple to Zeus ought to be built; and he gave orders accordingly. He left Pausanias, one of the Companions, to be superintendent of the citadel of Sardis, Nicias to supervise the collection of the tribute and taxes, and Asander, son of Philotas, to be superintendent of Lydia and the rest of the dominion of Spithridates, giving him as large a number of cavalry and light-armed infantry as seemed sufficient for present emergencies. He also sent Galas and Alexander, son of Aëropus, into the country of Memnon,[7] in command of the Peloponnesians and most of the other Grecian allies, except the Argives, who had been left behind to guard the citadel of Sardis.

Meantime, when the news of the cavalry battle was spread abroad, the Grecian mercenaries who formed the garrison of Ephesus, seized two of the Ephesian. triremes and set off in flight. They were accompanied by Amyntas,[8] son of Antiochus, who had fled from Alexander out of Macedonia, not because he had received any injury from the king, but from ill-will to him, and thinking it not unlikely that he should suffer some ill treatment from him (on account of his disloyalty). On the fourth day Alexander arrived at Ephesus, where he recalled from exile all the men who had been banished from the city on account of their adherence to him; and having broken up the oligarchy, he established a democratical form of government there. He also ordered the Ephesians to contribute to Artemis[9] all the tribute which they were in the habit of paying to the Persians. When the people of Ephesus were relieved of their dread of the oligarchs, they rushed headlong to kill the men who had brought Memnon into the city, as also those who had pillaged the temple of Artemis, and those who had thrown down the statue of Philip which was in the temple, and those who had dug up and carried off from the tomb in. the market place the bones of Heropythus, the liberator of their city. They also led Syrphax and his son Pelagon, and the sons of Syrphax's brothers out of the temple and stoned them to death. But Alexander prevented them making any further quest of the rest of the oligarchs for the purpose of wreaking their vengeance upon them; for he knew that if the people were not checked, they would kill the innocent along with the guilty, some from hatred, and others for the sake of seizing their property. At this time Alexander gained great popularity both by his general course of action and especially by what he did at Ephesus.

1.A city at the foot of Mount Ida.

2. A city of Bithynia, on the Propontis.

3. About eight miles.

4. This river flows through Phrygia and Lydia, and falls into the gulf of Smyrna. Its present name is Kodus-Chai. See Vergil (Georg., ii. 137); Silius, i. 159; Claudian (Raptus Proserpinae, ii. 67).

5.Nearly two-and-a-half miles.

6. For a description of this fortress, see Herodotus, i. 84.

7. Memnon had succeeded his brother Mentor as governor for the Persian king of the territory near the Hellespont. See Diodoras, xvii. 7.

8. This man took refuge with Darius, and distinguished himself at the battle of Issus. See Plutarch (Alex., 20); Curtius, iii. 28. He met with his death soon after in Egypt. See Arrian, ii. 6 and 13; Diod., xvii. 48.

9. The temple of Artemis at Ephesus had been burnt down by Herostratus in the night on which Alexander was born (Oct. 13-14, B.C. 356), and at this time was being restored by the joint efforts of the Ionian cities. See Strabo, xiv. 1. Heropythus and Syrphax are not mentioned by any other writers.


External links

See also


  1. Rhodes, P.J. A History of the Classical Greek World 478-323 BC. 2nd edition. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010, p. 6.
  2. A. Ramage, P. Craddock, "King Croesus' Gold: Excavations at Sardis and the History of Gold Refining. Archaeological Exploration of Sardis", Arch. Expl. Sardis (2001)
  3. Tacitus, The Annals 2.47
  4. An Inquiry Into the Ethnography of Afghanistan,p.53-54
  5. Dr S.M. Yunus Jaffery:The Jats - Their Role and Contribution to the Socio-Economic Life and Polity of North and North West India, Vol.I, 2004. Page 38, Ed. by Dr Vir Singh, Publisher - M/S Originals (an imprint of low priced publications), A-6, Nimri commercial Centre, Near Ashok Vihar, Phase-IV, Delhi-110052.
  6. Arrian:The Anabasis of Alexander/1b, Ch.24