Sardis, or Sardes, a city of ancient and medieval Asia Minor. It was established about 2600 B.C. and existed for some 4,000 years; since 1958 its site has been the scene of extensive archeological work.
The city stood on the Pactolus River, 48 miles (77 km) east of present-day Izmir (Smyrna), Turkey. Beginning about 680 B.C. the city became famous as the capital of Lydia and its powerful and wealthy kings. During this period gold discovered in the sands of the Pactolus gave the city great wealth. The last of the Lydian kings was Croesus, who was defeated by Cyrus the Great of Persia in 546 B.C.
The Persians made Sardis the western terminus of their Royal Highway from Susa, and the city became a thriving commercial center. Its prosperity continued under Macedonian and Roman rule. The Christian congregation at Sardis was one of the seven churches addressed by John in the Book of Revelation. In the Byzantine era the city's population was about 100,000. Sardis declined rapidly after its conquest by the Seljuk Turks in the 11th century and was destroyed by Tamerlane's Tatars in 1402. The site was eventually abandoned.