LYDIA, Sardes

AE17. 5.53gm, 16.6mm
MINTED: LYDIA, Sardes, circa 2nd-1st centuries BC
REF: SNG Cop 476
OBVERSE: Laureate head of Apollo right.

REVERSE: ΣΑΡΔΙ-ΑΝΩΝ, club within oak wreath, monogram (SNG Cop type 18) in right field.



Very Fine. Partially cleaned with much original earthen deposits.


Historical Notes:

Sardes, located in the Hermus valley, was the capital of the ancient Lydian kingdom, which flourished in western Anatolia between the 7th and 6th centuries BC.  Going back even further, the Greek historian Herodotus maintained that the city was founded and thereafter ruled by the descendants of the legendary Herakles for 505 years, beginning from around 1200 BC.

The ancient Lydians were most famous for having given the western world its first coinage, with the river Pactolus and other streams providing a bountiful source of electrum,  an alloy of gold and silver.  The electrum coinage eventually developed into to the world's first bi-metallic coins, when Lydian smiths working for King Croesus began separating the alloy to produce coins of both pure gold and silver.  This coinage made Croesus so wealthy that the expression "as rich as Croesus" is still used today to indicate immense wealth.  

Around 547 BC, the Persian king Cyrus the Great defeated Croesus and captured Sardes, bringing an end to the Lydian kingdom.  Sardes then became the western capital of the Persian Empire until the Alexander the Great of Macedonia defeated the Persians at the Battle of Granicus in 334 BC.

Sardes was part of the Kingdom of Pergamon when its last king, Attalus III, died in 133 BC and bequeathed his entire kingdom to the Romans.  Given its wealth, strategic location and loyalty to Rome, Sardes was accorded special privileges within the Republic and later on the Empire, and when the city was devastated by an earthquake in 17 BC, Emperor Tiberius gave ten million sesterces for its reconstruction.  As late as the 4th century AD, Sardes was still a large and important city with a population of more than 100,000.

LYDIA, Sardes . 2nd-1st centuries BC . AE17 . Apollo / Club in wreath

SKU: 838
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