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Ancient Region of Anatolia
Lydia (Λυδία)
Byzantine shops at Sardis
Location Western Anatolia
State existed: 15-14th c. BC (as Arzawa)
1200-546 BC
Language Lydian
Historical capitals Sardis
Famous rulers Gyges, Croesus
Persian satrapy Lydia
Roman province Asia, Lydia
Location of Lydia within Anatolia

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 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 was later the name for a Roman province. Coins were invented in Lydia around 610 BC.


Defining Lydia

Aside from a legend related by Herodotus,[1] who states that the name Lydia came from king Lydus at the time of the fall of Troy (the Bronze Age), and that Lydus' brother Tyrrhenus led the Tyrrhenians (Etruscans) to Italy, the name Lydia is limited to Greek and Assyrian records and Biblical passages no earlier than the 8th century BC. It seems to be associated with Guggu of Luddu (Gyges) in Assyrian records,[2] who acceded to the throne about 680 BC as the first of the Mermnad Dynasty.

Despite events portrayed as historic in Virgil's epic poem the Aeneid, the Bronze Age Sea People called the Teresh and the Etruscan-like language of the Lemnos stele, the recent decipherment of Lydian and its classification as an Anatolian language mean that Etruscan and Lydian were not even in the same language family; moreover, there is no substantial evidence of Etruscans in Lydia. Since Ionia was between historical Lydia and the sea, the Lydians had no coastline from as early as at least the 10th century BC from which to launch and maintain fleets[citation needed]. Historic Lydia was not a maritime power, and there is no documentary evidence of any state or people possibly called Luddu before the 8th century BC.

While the Hebrew Bible mentions Lud in three different places, scholars of various religions are not agreed as to whether all these represent the same entity. The only instance generally agreed to refer to the Anatolian Lydia occurs in Isaiah 66:19 where Lud is listed with Javan (Ionia) as being one of the people "that draw the bow" who have not heard of God.

The name Lydia and its Biblical and Assyrian forms appear to have been or were derived from an exonym assigned by the Ionian Greeks (who invaded the coastal part of their country) on the basis of some now unknown understanding[citation needed]. The endonym survives in a larger and more official body of records inscribed in bilingual and trilingual stone-carved notices of the Achaemenid Empire: Lydian Śfard, the satrapy of Sparda (Old Persian), Aramaic Saparda, Babylonian Sapardu, Elamitic Išbarda.[3] These in the Greek tradition are associated with Sardis, the capital city of Gyges, constructed in the 7th century BC. The inscriptions mean, however, the entire state; moreover, the entire people[citation needed].

This array of names evidences the development of the Lydian language itself: Anatolian p became f and there was extensive syncope of vowels. Saparda must precede Śfard. If the Sepharad of the Hebrew Bible is Śfard that word can be dated to at least as early as 600 BC, before the Persians invaded Lydia[citation needed].

Like the Lydian language, the names Lydia and Śfard seem to have appeared out of the Greek Dark Ages without documentation of their immediate precedents or any known connections to the historical records of the Bronze Age[citation needed]. The cultural ancestors appear to have been associated with or part of the Luwian political entity of Arzawa and yet Lydian is not part of the Luwian subgroup (as is Carian and Lycian). The ancestral population was Anatolian but not Luwian[citation needed]. In this gap the Greeks placed the Maeonians of the Trojan Battle Order but the connections are essentially legendary; no documents illuminate them.


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.


The Lydian language was an Indo-European language in the Anatolian language family, related to Luwian and Hittite. It used many prefixes and particles.[4] Lydian finally became extinct during the first century BC.


Early history: Maeonia and Lydia

Lydia arose as a Neo-Hittite kingdom following the collapse of the Hittite Empire in the twelfth 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 (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.[5] Later, Herodotus (Histories i. 7) adds that the "Meiones" were renamed Lydians after their king, Lydus (Λυδός), son of Attis, 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, is similarly considered to be derived from the eponymous Lud son of Shem; 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.[6]

In Greek myth, Lydia was also the first home of the double-axe, the labrys.[7] 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;[8] 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.

First coinage

Early 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.[9] 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.[10]

The dating of these first stamped coins is one of the most frequently debated topics in ancient numismatics,[11] 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.[12] 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.[13]

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, which means "standard."[14] These coins were stamped with a lion's head adorned with what's likely a sunburst, which was the king's symbol.[15] 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.[16]

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

Map of the Lydian Empire in its final period of sovereignty under Croesus, 6th century BC.

Lydia was ruled by three dynasties:

Atyads (1300BC 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[17]. The last king of this dynasty was Myrsilos or Candaules.

  • Candaules - After ruling for seventeen years he was assassinated by his former friend Gyges, who succeeded him on the throne of Lydia.


  • Gyges, called Gugu of Luddu in Assyrian inscriptions (687-652 BC or (690-657 BC) - Once established on the throne, Gyges devoted himself to consolidating his kingdom and making it a military power. The capital moved from Hyde to Sardis. Barbarian Cimmerians sacked many Lydian cities, except for Sardis. Gyges was the son of Dascylus, who, when recalled from banishment in Cappadocia by the Lydian king Mursylos — called Candaules "the Dog-strangler" (a title of the Lydian Hermes) by the Greeks — sent his son back to Lydia instead of himself. Gyges turned to Egypt, sending his faithful Carian troops along with Ionian mercenaries to assist Psammetichus in shaking off the Assyrian yoke. Some Bible scholars believe that Gyges of Lydia was the Biblical figure of Gog, ruler of Magog, who is mentioned in the Book of Ezekiel and the Book of Revelation.
  • Sadyattes (621-609BC) or (624-610BC) - Herodotus wrote (in Inquiries) that he fought with Cyaxares, the descendant of Deioces, and with the Medes, drove out the Cimmerians from Asia, took Smyrna, which had been founded by colonists from Colophon, and invaded Clazomenae and Miletus.
  • Alyattes II (609 or 619-560BC) - one of the greatest rulers of Lydia. When Cyaxares attacked Lydia, the kings of Cilicia and Babylon intervened and negotiated a peace in 585 BC, whereby the Halys was established as the Medes' frontier with Lydia. Herodotus writes:
"On the refusal of Alyattes to give up his supplicants when Cyaxares sent to demand them of him, war broke out between the Lydians and the Medes, and continued for five years, with various success. In the course of it the Medes gained many victories over the Lydians, and the Lydians also gained many victories over the Medes."

The Battle of the Eclipse was the final battle in a fifteen-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.

  • Croesus (560-546 BC) - the expression "rich as Croesus" came from this king. The Lydian Empire came to an end when Croesus attacked the Persian Empire of Cyrus II and was defeated in 546 BC.

Persian Empire

In 546 BC, the Achaemenid king Cyrus II the Great captured Sardis and Lydia became his satrapy.

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 Asia

Roman province of Asia
Photo 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.

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


  1. ^ Book I Chapter 7.
  2. ^ Gmirkin, Russell E. (2006). Berossus and Genesis, Manetho and Exodus: Hellenistic Histories and the Date of the Pentateuch. London, New York: Continuum International Publishing Group. pp. 143. ISBN 0567025926. 
  3. ^ Tavernier, J. (2007). Iranica in the Achaemenid period (ca. 530-330 B.C.): Lexicon of Old Iranian Proper Names and Loanwords, attested in Non-Iranian Texts. Peeters. pp. 91. ISBN 9042918330. 
  4. ^ Lydia
  5. ^ See Strabo xiii.626.
  6. ^ In reference to the myth of Bellerophon, Karl Kerenyi remarked, in The Heroes of The Greeks 1959, p. 83. "As Lykia was thus connected with Crete, and as the person of Pelops, the hero of Olympia, connected Lydia with the Peloponnesos, so Bellerophontes connected another Asian country, or rather two, Lykia and Karia, with the kingdom of Argos."
  7. ^ Sources noted in Karl Kerenyi, The Heroes of the Greeks 1959, p. 192.
  8. ^ Thus appearing in the heavens as the constellation Ophiucus (Hyginus, Astronomica ii.14).
  9. ^ Herodotus. Histories, I, 94.
  10. ^ Carradice and Price, Coinage in the Greek World, Seaby, London, 1988, p. 24.
  11. ^ N. Cahill and J. Kroll, "New Archaic Coin Finds at Sardis," American Journal of Archaeology, Vol. 109, No. 4 (October 2005), p. 613.
  12. ^ A. Ramage, "Golden Sardis," King Croesus' Gold: Excavations at Sardis and the History of Gold Refining, edited by A. Ramage and P. Craddock, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 2000, p. 18.
  13. ^ M. Cowell and K. Hyne, "Scientific Examination of the Lydian Precious Metal Coinages," King Croesus' Gold: Excavations at Sardis and the History of Gold Refining, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 2000, pp. 169-174.
  14. ^ L. Breglia, "Il materiale proveniente dalla base centrale dell'Artemession di Efeso e le monete di Lidia," Istituto Italiano di Numismatica Annali Vols. 18-19 (1971/72), pp. 9-25.
  15. ^ E. Robinson, "The Coins from the Ephesian Artemision Reconsidered," Journal of Hellenic Studies 71 (1951), p. 159.
  16. ^ M. Mitchiner, Ancient Trade and Early Coinage, Hawkins Publications, London, 2004, p. 219.
  17. ^ Lydian Period of Anatolia

See also


External links

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

LYDIA, in ancient geography, a district of Asia Minor, the boundaries of which it is difficult to fix, partly because they varied at different epochs. The name is first found under the form of Luddi in the inscriptions of the Assyrian king Assurbani-pal, who received tribute from Gyges about 660 B.C. In Homer we read only of Maeonians (Il. ii. 865, v. 43, x. 431), and the place of the Lydian capital Sardis is taken by Hyde (Il. xx. 385), unless this was the name of the district in which Sardis stood (see Strabo xiii. p. 626). 1 The earliest Greek writer who mentions the name is Mimnermus of Colophon, in the 37th Olympiad. According to Herodotus (i. 7), the Meiones (called Maeones by other writers) were named Lydians after Lydus, the son of Attis, in the mythical epoch which preceded the rise of the Heraclid dynasty. In historical times the Maeones were a tribe inhabiting the district of the upper Hermus, where a town called Maeonia existed (Pliny, N.H. v. 30; Hierocles, p. 670). The Lydians must originally have been an allied tribe which bordered upon them to the north-west, and occupied the plain of Sardis or Magnesia at the foot of Tmolus and Sipylus. They were cut off from the sea by the Greeks, who were in possession, not only of the Bay of Smyrna, but also of the country north of Sipylus as far as Temnus in the pass (boghaz), through which the Hermus forces its way from the plain of Magnesia into its lower valley. 2 In a Homeric epigram the ridge north of the Hermus, on which the ruins of Temnus lie, is called Sardene. Northward the Lydians extended at least as far as the Gygaean Lake (Lake Coloe, mod. Mermereh), and the Sardene range (mod. Dumanli Dagh). The plateau of the Bin Bir Tepe, on the southern shore of the Gygaean Lake, was the chief burial-place of the inhabitants of Sardis, and is still thickly studded with tumuli, among which is the "tomb of Alyattes" (260 ft. high). Next to Sardis the chief city was Magnesia ad Sipylum (q.v.), in the neighbourhood of which is the famous seated figure of "Niobe" (Il. xxiv. 614-617), cut out of the rock, and probably intended to represent the goddess Cybele, to which the Greeks attached their legend of Niobe. According to Pliny (v. 31), Tantalis, afterwards swallowed up by earthquake in the pool Sale or Saloe, was the ancient name of Sipylus and "the capital of Maeonia" (Paus. vii. 24; Strabo xii. 579). Under the Heraclid dynasty the limits of Lydia must have been already extended, since according to Strabo (xiii. S90), the authority of Gyges reached as far as the Troad. Under the Mermnads Lydia became a maritime as well as an inland power. The Greek cities were conquered, and the coast of Ionia included within the Lydian kingdom. The successes of Alyattes and of Croesus finally changed the Lydian kingdom into a Lydian empire, and all Asia Minor westward of the Halys, except Lycia, owned the supremacy of Sardis. Lydia never again shrank back into its original dimensions. After the Persian conquest the Maeander was regarded as its southern boundary, and in the Roman period it comprised the country between Mysia and Caria on the one side and Phrygia and the Aegean on the other.

Lydia proper was exceedingly fertile. The hill-sides were clothed with vine and fir, and the rich broad plain of Hermus produced large quantities of corn and saffron. The climate of the plain was soft but healthy, though the country was subject to frequent earthquakes. The Pactolus, which flowed from the fountain of Tame - in the Tmolus mountains, through the centre of Sardis, into the Hermus, was believed to be full of golden sand; 1 Pliny (v. 30) makes it the Maeonian name.

See Sir W. M. Ramsay in the Journal of Hellenic Studies, ii. 2.

and gold mines were worked in Tmolus itself, though by the time of Strabo the proceeds had become so small as hardly to pay for the expense of working them (Strabo xiii. 591). Maeonia on the east contained the curious barren plateau known to the Greeks as the Katakekaumene ("Burnt country"), once a centre of volcanic disturbance. The Gygaean lake (where remains of pile dwellings have been found) still abounds with carp.

Herodotus (i. 171) tells us that Lydus was a brother of Mysus and Car. The statement is on the whole borne out by the few Lydian, Mysian and Carian words that have been preserved, as well as by the general character of the civilization prevailing among the three nations. The race was probably a mixed one, consisting of aborigines and Aryan immigrants. It was characterized by industry and a commercial spirit, and, before the Persian conquest, by bravery. The religion of the Lydians resembled that of the other civilized nations of Asia Minor. It was a nature worship, which at times became wild and sensuous. By the side of the supreme god Medeus stood the sun-god Attis, as in Phrygia the chief object of the popular cult. He was at once the son and bridegroom of Cybele (q.v.) or Cybebe, the mother of the gods, whose image carved by Broteas, son of Tantalus, was adored on the cliffs of Sipylus (Paus. iii. 22). The cult may have been brought westward by the Hittites who have left memorials of themselves in the pseudo-Sesostris figures of Kara-bel (between Sardis and Ephesus) as well as in the figure of the Mothergoddess, the so-called Niobe. At Ephesus, where she was adored under the form of a meteoric stone, she was identified with the Greek Artemis (see also Great Mother Of The Gods). Her mural crown is first seen in the Hittite sculptures of Boghaz Keui (see Pteria and Hittites) on the Halys. The priestesses by whom she was served are depicted in early art as armed with the double-headed axe, and the dances they performed in her honour with shield and bow gave rise to the myths which saw in them. the Amazons, a nation of woman-warriors. The preHellenic cities of the coast - Smyrna, Samorna (Ephesus), Myrina, Cyme, Priene and Pitane - were all of Amazonian origin, and the first three of them have the same name as the Amazon Myrina, whose tomb was pointed out in the Troad. The prostitution whereby the Lydian girls gained their dowries (Herod. i. 93) was a religious exercise, as among the Semites, which marked their devotion to the goddess Cybele. In the legend of Heracles, Omphale takes the place of Cybele, and was perhaps her Lydian title. Heracles is here the sun-god Attis in a new form; his Lydian name is unknown, since E. Meyer has shown (Zeitschr. d. Morg. Gesell. xxxi. 4) that Sandon belongs not to Lydia but to Cilicia. By the side of Attis stood Manes or Men, identified later with the Moon-god.

According to the native historian Xanthus (460 B.C.) three dynasties ruled in succession over Lydia. The first, that of the Attiads, is mythical. It was headed by a god, and included geographical personages like Lydus, Asies and Meles, or such heroes of folk-lore as Cambletes, who devoured his wife. To this mythical age belongs the colony which, according to Herodotus (i. 94), Tyrsenus, the son of Attis, led to Etruria. Xanthus, however, puts Torrhebus in the place of Tyrsenus, and makes him the eponym of a district in Lydia. It is doubtful whether Xanthus recognized the Greek legends which brought Pelops from Lydia, or rather Maeonia, and made him the son of Tantalus. The second dynasty was also of divine origin, but the names which head it prove its connexion with the distant East. Its founder, a descendant of Heracles and Omphale, was, Herodotus tells us (i. 7), a son of Ninus and grandson of Belus. The Assyrian inscriptions have shown that the Assyrians had never crossed the Halys, much less known the name of Lydia, before the age of Assur-bani-pal, and consequently the theory which brought the Heraclids from Nineveh must be given up. But the Hittites, another Oriental people, deeply imbued with the elements of Babylonian culture, had overrun Asia Minor and established themselves on the shores of the Aegean before the reign of the Egyptian king Rameses II.

The subject allies who then fight under their banners include the Masu or Mysians and the Dardani of the Troad, while the Hittites have left memorials in Lydia. G. Dennis discovered an inscription in Hittite hieroglyphics attached to the figure of "Niobe" on Sipylus, and a similar inscription accompanies the figure (in which Herodotus, ii. 106, wished to see Sesostris or Rameses II.) in the pass of Karabel. We learn from Eusebius that Sardis was first captured by the Cimmerii 1078 B.C.; and since it was four centuries later before the real Cimmerii (q.v.) appeared on the horizon of history, we may perhaps find in the statement a tradition of the Hittite conquest. As the authority of the Hittite satraps at Sardis began to decay the Heraclid dynasty arose. According to Xanthus, Sadyattes and Lixus were the successors of Tylon the son of Omphale. After lasting five hundred and five years, the dynasty came to an end in the person of Sadyattes, as he is called by Nicolas of Damascus, whose account is doubtless derived from Xanthus. The name Candaules, given him by Herodotus, meant "dog strangler" and was a title of the Lydian Hermes. Gyges (q.v.) put him to death and established the dynasty of the Mermnads, 687 B.C. Gyges initiated a new policy, that of making Lydia a maritime power; but towards the middle of his reign the kingdom was overrun by the Cimmerii. The lower town of Sardis was taken, and Gyges sent tribute to Assur-bani-pal, as well as two Cimmerian chieftains he had himself captured in battle. A few years later Gyges joined in the revolt against Assyria, and the Ionic and Carian mercenaries he despatched to Egypt enabled Psammetichus to make himself independent. Assyria, however, was soon avenged. The Cimmerian hordes returned, Gyges was slain in battle (652 B.C.), and Ardys his son and successor returned to his allegiance to Nineveh. The second capture of Sardis on this occasion was alluded to by Callisthenes (Strabo xiii. 627). Alyattes, the grandson of Ardys, finally succeeded in extirpating the Cimmerii, as well as in taking Smyrna, and thus providing his kingdom with a port. The trade and wealth of Lydia rapidly increased, and the Greek towns fell one after the other before the attacks of the Lydian kings. Alyattes's long reign of fifty-seven years saw the foundation of the Lydian empire. All Asia Minor west of the Halys acknowledged his sway, and the six years' contest he carried on with the Medes was closed by the marriage of his daughter Aryenis to Astyages. The Greek cities were allowed to retain their own institutions and government on condition of paying taxes and dues to the Lydian monarch, and the proceeds of their commerce thus flowed into the imperial exchequer. The result was that the king of Lydia became the richest prince of his age. Alyattes was succeeded by Croesus (q.v.), who had probably already for some years shared the royal power with his father, or perhaps grandfather, as V. Floigl thinks (Geschichte des semitischen Alterthums, p. 20). He reigned alone only fifteen years, Cyrus the Persian, after an indecisive battle on the Halys, marching upon Sardis, and capturing both acropolis and monarch (546 B.C.). The place where the acropolis was entered was believed to have been overlooked by the mythical Meles when he carried the lion round his fortress to make it invulnerable; it was really a path opened by one of the landslips, which have reduced the sandstone cliff of the acropolis to a mere shell, and threaten to carry it altogether into the plain below. The revolt of the Lydians under Pactyas, whom Cyrus had appointed to collect the taxes, caused the Persian king to disarm them, though we can hardly credit the statement that by this measure their warlike spirit was crushed. Sardis now became the western capital of the Persian empire, and its burning by the Athenians was the indirect cause of the Persian War. After Alexander the Great's death, Lydia passed to Antigonus; then Achaeus made himself king at Sardis, but was defeated and put to death by Antiochus. The country was presented by the Romans to Eumenes, and subsequently formed part of the proconsular province of Asia. By the time of Strabo (xiii. 631) its old language was entirely supplanted by Greek.

The Lydian empire may be described as the industrial power of the ancient world. The Lydians were credited with being the inventors, not only of games such as dice, huckle-bones and ball (Herod. i. 94), but also of coined money. The oldest known coins are the electrum coins of the earlier Mermnads (Madden, Coins of the Jews, pp. 19-21), stamped on one side with a lion's head or the figure of a king with bow and quiver; these were replaced by Croesus with a coinage of pure gold and silver. To the latter monarch were probably due the earliest gold coins of Ephesus (Head, Coinage of Ephesus, p. 16). The electrum coins of Lydia were of two kinds, one weighing 168.4 grains for the inland trade, and another of 224 grains for the trade with Ionia. The standard was the silver mina of Carchemish (as the Assyrians called it) which contained 8656 grains. Originally derived by the Hittites from Babylonia, but modified by themselves, this standard was passed on to the nations of Asia Minor during the period of Hittite conquest, but was eventually superseded by the Phoenician mina of 11,225 grains, and continued to survive only in Cyprus and Cilicia (see also Numismatics). The inns, which the Lydians were said to have been the first to establish (Herod. i. 94), were connected with their attention to commercial pursuits. Their literature has wholly perished. They were celebrated for their music and gymnastic exercises, and their art formed a link between that of Asia Minor and that of Greece. R. Heberdey's excavations at Ephesus since 1896, like those of D. G. Hogarth in 1905, belong to the history of Greek and not native art. The ivory figures, however, found by Hogarth on the level of the earliest temple of Artemis show Asiatic influence, and resemble the so-called "Phoenician" ivories from the palace of Sargon at Calah (Nimrud). For a description of a pectoral of white gold, ornamented with the heads of animals, human faces and the figure of a goddess, discovered in a tomb on Tmolus, see Academy, January 15, 1881, p. 45. Lydian sculpture was probably similar to that of the Phrygians. Phallic emblems, for averting evil, were plentiful; the summit of the tomb of Alyattes is crowned with an enormous one of stone, about 9 ft. in diameter. The tumulus itself is 281 yds. in diameter and about half a mile in circumference. It has been partially excavated by G. Spiegelthal and G. Dennis, and a sepulchral chamber discovered in the middle, composed of large well-cut and highly polished blocks of marble, the chamber being ft. long, nearly 8 ft. broad and 7 ft. high. Nothing was found in it except a few ashes and a broken vase of Egyptian alabaster. The stone basement which, according to Herodotus, formerly surrounded the mound has disappeared.

BIBLIOGRAPHY.-A. von Offers, Uber die lydischen Konigsgraber bei Sardes (1858); H. Gelzer in the Rheinisches Museum (1874); R. Schubert, Geschichte der Keinige von Lydien (1884); G. Perrot and C. Chipiez, Histoire de l'art dans l'antiquite, v. (1890); O. Radet, La Lydie et le monde grec au temps des Mermnades (1893); G. Maspero, Dawn of Civilization, pp. 232-301 (1892) and Passing of the Empires, pp. 339, 388, 603-621 (1900); J. Keil and A. von Premerstein, Bericht fiber eine Reise in Lydien (1908). (A. H. S.)

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary




Ancient Greek Λυδία, said to be named for a king Λυδός (Lydus).


Proper noun




  1. A historic region of SW Asia Minor.
  2. (Biblical) A woman converted by Paul; presumably named for ancestry or residence in Lydia.
  3. A female given name of biblical origin.


  • 1611 King James Version of the Bible: Acts 16:14:
    And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul.

Derived terms

Related terms



  • Anagrams of adily
  • daily


Proper noun


  1. (Biblical) Lydia.
  2. A female given name.


Proper noun


  1. A female given name, a Latinized variant of Lydie.


Proper noun


  1. (Biblical) Lydia.
  2. A female given name.


Proper noun


  1. (Biblical) Lydia.
  2. A female given name.


Proper noun


  1. (Biblical) Lydia.
  2. A female given name.

Bible wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From BibleWiki

The Apostle Paul was on his second missionary journey when he travelled to Philippi in Macedonia to preach the gospel. It was here that he met Lydia from the city of Thyatira. Thyatira was in an area that Paul had been forbidden to enter. Lydia became Paul's first European convert and the first European baptized.

Lydia was an entrepeneur who dealt in scarlet and purple-dyed goods. The purple dye, made from a certain type of mollusk (purpura murex), was extremely expensive. It was used for the stripes in the togas of Roman senators. She had relocated her business from Thyatira to a major thoroughfare on the Gangas River in Philippi and supplied textiles to both the Romans and the Persians. It was Lydia's customers who imprisoned Paul and Silas.

Lydia was a religious woman, a proselyte of the Hebrew faith, who gathered with other women for prayer but was still lost. Proselytes were pagans who accepted the ethical monotheism of Judaism and attended synagogue, but who did not feel obligated to keep the whole Jewish law. They did worship the only true God and did so with specific acts.

One sabbath Paul and his followers left the city to preach by a river. It was there that the Lord opened her heart. She and her household were baptized, and she invited Paul and his other companions, to make her house their church in Philippi. From this humble beginning, this church grew and became an active Christian community, evangelizing, sharing its resources and sending their own people to aid Paul in his work and when he was imprisoned. Paul returned to this church on three different occasions.

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