Sardis was an ancient city of wealth and commerce. Its wealth came from the gold found in its river and from its textiles. It was the first city where gold and silver coins were issued. It thrived under the rule of King Croesus before falling to the Persians, the Greeks, the Seleucids and the Romans in succession. Today, the ruins of Sardis sit just outside the small town of Sart.
Temple and Synagogue
Paganism flourished in Sardis. The Christian community was small and weak, and many returned to their original religions. The temple dedicated to Artemis in Sardis was one of the seven largest Greek temples. The synagogue, one of the largest ancient synagogues ever excavated, is found in the heart of the city instead of on the periphery as synagogues typically were. This attests to the strength and wealth of the Jewish community in Sardis.
The Spiritually Dead Church
Sardis was the fifth of the Seven Churches to receive a letter from Apostle John. There were no commendations, only condemnation that the church had a reputation for being alive when they were dead. But there was encouragement for the congregation to wake up and strengthen what remained of their community.
Points of Interest
The Bath-Gymnasium at Sardis is the most prominent public structure that combines the gymnasium, a Greek institution, with the Roman bath and a colonnaded palestra where athletes would train. Next to it is a striking two-storey building called the Marble Court of the Hall of the Imperial Cult. There is also a row of Byzantine shops that belonged to the Jewish merchants and artisans.
- Sardis was a city that had endured two surprise attacks despite its fortifications.
- The floors of the synagogue were paved with ornate mosaics and its walls covered with multi-coloured marble panels of floral and animal designs.
- Imperial cult refers to the practice in the Roman Empire of worshipping the emperor and certain members of the imperial family.