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Early 8th century-546 BCE

Ancient World /
Other names: Mĉonia (Greek)


1. Economy
2. Society and Culture
3. Religion
4. Language
5. History

Lydia in the 6th century

Lydia: Mountains near Sardis

First known real coin from the reign of Lydian king Croesus

All dates BCE
Ardysus 1 797- 761
Alyattes 1 761- 747
Meles 747- 735
Candaules 735- 718
Gyges 718- 680
Ardysus 2 680- 631
Sadyattes 631- 619
Alyattes 2 619- 560
Croesus 560- 546

Ancient kingdom in western Asia Minor (now Anatolia, Turkey), lasting from the beginning of the 8th century-546 BCE, altogether 240-250 years.
At its largest, Lydia covered the western half of Anatolia, west of the Halys river (now Kizilirmak river) except the lands of Lycia.
The central region of Lydia were the lands from the Aegean Sea to the valleys of Hermus and Cayster rivers, now called Gediz and B˙ükmederes. The region had a fertile soil as well as rich deposits of gold and silver.

The Lydians are told to have been the first people to coin money, made from silver and gold. With the use of money did the Lydians spark a commercial revolution, and by this they had much influence on the Greek civilization from the 6th century and onwards.
The main economic activities of Lydia were agriculture and mining of silver and gold, as well as the manufacture and dyeing of delicate woollen stuffs and carpets. But with the kingdom's aggressiveness towards its neighbours, looting of foreign peoples brought in substantial wealth to the royal court.
The capital of Lydia was Sardis, which by its time's standards was unusually rich and beautiful.

Society and Culture
There are many legends of Lydia, but a couple of them relates to liberal sexual attitudes. One tells that prostitution was accepted as a way for a young girl to earn her dowry. Another tells about king Candaules who was so proud of his wife's body that he allowed one bodyguard, Gyges to see her naked. As she raged over this offence, she forced Gyges to kill her husband and marry her. So he did, the legend tells, and he became king.

Lydian religion largely shares the characterstics of Anatolian relgions at large, with a great focus on the divine mother.
Nature was in focus with the worship, the supreme god was Medeus. More important to rituals was the sun-god Attis, who was both son and husband of Cybele, the divine mother.
Still, the main focus of Lydian religion was that of Cybele. In her honour extensive rituals were acted out by dedicated priestesses who were armed with double axes. It is quite possible that is from this cult that the legends of the Amazons were derived.
The rituals of the priestesses involved dancing, whereas ordinary girls (unmarried) acted out a type of rituals that was a form of prostitution. By these rituals, the girls also earned their dowry.

Prior to the emergence of Lydia, the same region was known as Arzawa.
Early 7th century: Phrygia is destroyed by the Cimmerians, leaving Lydia the strongest nation to control western Anatolia.
685: The rise of the Mermnadae dynasty marks the beginning of the great period of Lydia.
654 or 652: The Cimmerians attacks Lydia, killing king Gyges and causing great destruction to Sardis.
620's: Final battle between Lydia and the Cimmerians, results in victory for Lydia.
619: Alyattes becomes king of Lydia.
590: Lydia resists invasions from Media and by the Cimmerians. They conquer large lands, especially in Ionia, and the state develops into an empire.
585: Peace is arranged with Media, and the Halys River is set as the border between the two kingdoms.
546: Sardis is captured by the Persians under the leadership of Cyrus 2 the Great. Lydia is incorporated into the Persian Empire.
334: The lands of Lydia is conquered by Alexander the Great, and comes under Greco-Macedonian control.
133: Lydia becomes part of the Roman province of Asia.

By Tore Kjeilen