The Synagogue at Sardis, Turkey

by David Padfield

Synagogue at Sardis, Turkey


Sardis, the capital of Lydia, was the commercial center of the western Mediterranean for several centuries before Christ. It was located on a highway east of Smyrna. In the Old Testament, Sardis was probably the place called Sepharad where the exiles from Jerusalem were taken (Obadiah 19-21).

Croesus was king of Sardis from 560 to 546 B.C., and his name is still associated with wealth. Croesus was famous for his rich offerings to the sanctuaries of Delphi. He made the mistake of fighting against the Persian King Cyrus, by whom he was defeated and taken prisoner.

In 1958 excavations in Sardis revealed a third century A.D. Jewish synagogue; its mosaic paving was largely intact when it was uncovered.