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 peak times for Lydians and their capital city Sardis was over 150 years from 7th century till 546BC. Sardis was a very rich capital where Greek and Oriental cultures meet. Sardis was a city which is known with a sculpturing school. Aeolian and and Ionian cities was under rule of Lydians till 546 BC. Then, The Persians controlled the city. The city was the satrapy (government) center during the Persian rule. During the Ionian rebellion, the city was destroyed by the Greeks. The city continued to flourish through the periods of Alexander the Great, Romans and Byzantines until it was inhabited by the Turks and then deserted.
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 hunting, the moon and fertility.
Gymnasium is a large ‘Imperial Type’ complex consisting of a palaestra next to the synagogue, colonnades on three sides and the main building with the recently-restored ornate facade. According to its inscription, it was built in the 2nd century AD and dedicated by the people of Sardes to Geta and Caracalla, the sons of Septimus Severus and to their mother Julia Domna. It was a complex of symmetrically arranged rooms. Around the gymnasium, one can notice the shops as paint shop and hardware shop. And also the part of the Royal road which is 30 feet wide. Bath consists of Apodyterium, Frigidarium, Tepidarium and Caldarium sections.
Synagogue: The synagogue of Sardes 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 century AD.
Sardes is believed to have gained its Jewish community in the 3rd century BC, as that was when King Antiochus III (223-187 BC) encouraged Jews from various countries, including Babylonia, to move to Sardes. Josephus Flavius wrote of a decree from Lucius Antonius, a Roman protestor of 50-49 BC: “Lucius Antonius…to [the Sardian people], sends greetings. Those Jews, who are fellow citizens of Rome, came to me, and showed that they had an assembly of their own, according to their ancestral laws. [They had this assembly] from the beginning, as also a place of their own, wherein they determined their suits and controversies with one another. Therefore, upon their petition to me, so that these might be lawful for them, I ordered that their privileges be preserved, and they be permitted to do accordingly.”1 (Ant., XIV:10, 17). “A place of their own” is generally taken as a reference to the synagogue at Sardis. Josephus Flavius noted that Caius Norbanus Flaccus, a Roman proconsul at the end of the 1st century BCE, upheld the rights of Sardis Jews to practice their religion, including the right to donate to the Temple in Jerusalem. (Ant., XVI:6,6).