Monday, February 08, 2010
We visited Sardis where archaeologists have uncovered Hellenistic and Roman structures. Outside the city lies a Temple of Artemis in a glorious setting at the foot of the acropolis, begun in the early third century BCE. The ruins of the Artemision belong to a twin temple dedicated by Emperor Antoninus Pius to Artemis and to his wife Annia Faustina. A Byzantine church was added around 400 CE (front lower left). While the section of the temple dedicated to Artemis can only be guessed at by observing its foundations, the two remaining columns of the portico which preceded the section dedicated to Annia Faustina give a better idea of the gigantic dimensions of the sanctuary, especially when compared to the tiny Byzantine church.
Within the ancient city itself are second century CE baths next door to which is a sixth century Synagogue, the largest in Asia Minor, converted from one of the halls flanking the palaestra of the gymnasium. In the forecourt is a fountain which seems to have been one of the public fountains. The Synagogue is 85 meters long and 20 meters wide, able to accommodate 1,000 people. Along the adjacent street to the south are a colonnaded row of Jewish and Christian shops suggesting co-existence.
A commercial and residential neighborhood south and southeast of the Gymnasium remained prosperous into the sixth century. By the early seventh century, however, the city had been substantially abandoned.