What is…

Greek: Σάρδεις —transliteration: Sardeis

also known as: Sardes

Sardis. Photo by Peter Cobb.
Sardis—The Hermus River valley (modern Gediz) as seen from the southern edge of the Bin Tepe Lydio-Persian tumulus burial ground, looking south towards Sardis, with the Tmolus mountains (modern Bozdağ) behind.
Photo by Peter Cobb (2014). Licensed by CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Sardis was the luxurious metropolis of the ancient kingdom of Lydia (the eastern half of modern Turkey) in Asia Minor. It stood on the river Pactolus which empties into the large Gediz River (in ancient times known as Hermus or Hermos). Sardis is near the foot of Mount Tmolus. Its ruins are under the modern town of Sart, Turkey (once called Sert-Kalessi). In ancient times, the city was blessed with lucrative deposits of electrum (a natural alloy of gold and silver) which could be separated into gold and silver of exceptionally high purity. The legendary King Midas is associated with this river. This very wealthy city also had an important dyeing industry (fine wool products and carpets) and coin mint.

visible archaeological ruins of ancient Sardis—satellite view

Here was one of the 7 Asiatic churches described in the Book of Revelation (Rev. 3:1-6). This is the only time this city is mentioned in Scripture. It was an almost completely dead church, filled with sinful unregenerate people.

See the Christian archaeological video which describes this city and the cultural context surrounding the early Church: On the Early Church (“The Salt of the Earth,” part of the Faith Lessons video series). “The apostle John used the example of Sardis, a city that overlooked its weak points and thereby enabled invading armies to conquer it, to warn Christians to be alert to their weakness so that they would not compromise their faith.”

Article Version: August 29, 2019