|Ancient Region of Anatolia|
|State existed:|| 15-14th c. BC (as Arzawa)|
|Famous rulers||Gyges, Croesus|
|Roman province||Asia, Lydia|
Lydia (Assyrian: Luddu; Greek: Λυδία) was an Iron Age kingdom of western Asia Minor located generally east of ancient Ionia in Turkey's modern provinces of Manisa and inland İzmir. Its population spoke an Anatolian language known as Lydian.
Despite events portrayed as historic in Virgil's epic poem the Aeneid, the Bronze Age Sea People called the Teresh and the Etruscan-like language of the Lemnos stele, the recent decipherment of Lydian and its classification as an Anatolian language mean that Etruscan and Lydian were not even in the same language family; moreover, there is no substantial evidence of Etruscans in Lydia. Since Ionia was between historical Lydia and the sea, the Lydians had no coastline from as early as at least the 10th century BC from which to launch and maintain fleets. Historic Lydia was not a maritime power, and there is no documentary evidence of any state or people possibly called Luddu before the 8th century BC.
While the Hebrew Bible mentions Lud in three different places, scholars of various religions are not agreed as to whether all these represent the same entity. The only instance generally agreed to refer to the Anatolian Lydia occurs in Isaiah 66:19 where Lud is listed with Javan (Ionia) as being one of the people "that draw the bow" who have not heard of God.
The name Lydia and its Biblical and Assyrian forms appear to have been or were derived from an exonym assigned by the Ionian Greeks (who invaded the coastal part of their country) on the basis of some now unknown understanding. The endonym survives in a larger and more official body of records inscribed in bilingual and trilingual stone-carved notices of the Achaemenid Empire: Lydian Śfard, the satrapy of Sparda (Old Persian), Aramaic Saparda, Babylonian Sapardu, Elamitic Išbarda. These in the Greek tradition are associated with Sardis, the capital city of Gyges, constructed in the 7th century BC. The inscriptions mean, however, the entire state; moreover, the entire people.
This array of names evidences the development of the Lydian language itself: Anatolian p became f and there was extensive syncope of vowels. Saparda must precede Śfard. If the Sepharad of the Hebrew Bible is Śfard that word can be dated to at least as early as 600 BC, before the Persians invaded Lydia.
Like the Lydian language, the names Lydia and Śfard seem to have appeared out of the Greek Dark Ages without documentation of their immediate precedents or any known connections to the historical records of the Bronze Age. The cultural ancestors appear to have been associated with or part of the Luwian political entity of Arzawa and yet Lydian is not part of the Luwian subgroup (as is Carian and Lycian). The ancestral population was Anatolian but not Luwian. In this gap the Greeks placed the Maeonians of the Trojan Battle Order but the connections are essentially legendary; no documents illuminate them.
The boundaries of historical Lydia varied across the centuries. It was first bounded by Mysia, Caria, Phrygia and coastal Ionia. Later on, the military power of Alyattes and Croesus expanded Lydia into an empire, with its capital at Sardis, which controlled all Asia Minor west of the River Halys, except Lycia. Lydia never again shrank back into its original dimensions. After the Persian conquest the Maeander was regarded as its southern boundary, and under Rome, Lydia comprised the country between Mysia and Caria on the one side and Phrygia and the Aegean on the other.
Lydia arose as a Neo-Hittite kingdom following the collapse of the Hittite Empire in the twelfth century BC. In Hittite times, the name for the region had been Arzawa, a Luwian-speaking area. According to Greek source, the original name of the Lydian kingdom was Maionia (or Maeonia): Homer (Iliad ii. 865; v. 43, xi. 431) refers to the inhabitants of Lydia as Maiones (Μαίονες). Homer describes their capital not as Sardis but as Hyde (Iliad xx. 385); Hyde may have been the name of the district where Sardis stood. Later, Herodotus (Histories i. 7) adds that the "Meiones" were renamed Lydians after their king, Lydus (Λυδός), son of Attis, in the mythical epoch that preceded the rise of the Heracleid dynasty. This etiological eponym served to account for the Greek ethnic name Lydoi (Λυδοί). The Hebrew term for Lydians, Lûḏîm (לודים), as found in Jeremiah 46.9, is similarly considered to be derived from the eponymous Lud son of Shem; in Biblical times, the Lydian warriors were also famous archers. Some Maeones still existed in historical times in the upland interior along the River Hermus, where a town called Maeonia existed, according to Pliny the Elder (Natural History book v:30) and Hierocles.
For the Greeks, Tantalus was a primordial ruler of mythic Lydia, and Niobe his proud daughter; her husband Zethos linked the affairs of Lydia with Thebes, and through Pelops the line of Tantalus was part of the founding myths of Mycenae's second dynasty.
In Greek myth, Lydia was also the first home of the double-axe, the labrys. Omphale, daughter of the river Iardanos, was a ruler of Lydia, whom Heracles was required to serve for a time. His adventures in Lydia are the adventures of a Greek hero in a peripheral and foreign land: during his stay, Heracles enslaved the Itones, killed Syleus who forced passers-by to hoe his vineyard; slew the serpent of the river Sangarios; and captured the simian tricksters, the Cercopes. Accounts speak of at least one son born to Omphale and Heracles: Diodorus Siculus (4.31.8) and Ovid (Heroides 9.54) mention a son Lamos, while pseudo-Apollodorus (Bibliotheke 2.7.8) gives the name Agelaus, and Pausanias (2.21.3) names Tyrsenus son of Heracles by "the Lydian woman."
All three heroic ancestors indicate a Lydian dynasty claiming descent from Heracles. Herodotus (1.7) refers to a Heraclid dynasty of kings who ruled Lydia, yet were perhaps not descended from Omphale. He also mentions (1.94) the recurring legend that the Etruscan civilization was founded by colonists from Lydia led by Tyrrhenus, brother of Lydus. However, Dionysius of Halicarnassus was skeptical of this story, pointing out that the Etruscan language and customs were known to be totally dissimilar to those of the Lydians. Later chronographers also ignored Herodotus's statement that Agron was the first to be a king, and included Alcaeus, Belus, and Ninus in their list of kings of Lydia. Strabo (5.2.2) makes Atys, father of Lydus and Tyrrhenus, to be a descendant of Heracles and Omphale. All other accounts place Atys, Lydus, and Tyrrhenus among the pre-Heraclid kings of Lydia. The gold deposits in the river Pactolus that were the source of the proverbial wealth of Croesus (Lydia's last historical king) were said to have been left there when the legendary king Midas of Phrygia washed away the "Midas touch" in its waters.
According to Herodotus, the Lydians were the first people to introduce the use of gold and silver coin, and the first to establish retail shops in permanent locations. It is believed that these first stamped coins were minted around 650-600 BC. The first coin was made of electrum, a naturally occurring alloy of gold and silver. It was made in the 1/3 stater (trite) denomination, meaning that it weighed 4.76 grams. It was stamped with a lion's head, the king's symbol. 14.1 grams of electrum was one stater (meaning "standard"). A stater was about one month's pay for a soldier. To complement the stater, fractions were made: the trite (third), the hekte (sixth), and so forth, including 1/24 of a stater, and even down to 1/48th and 1/96th of a stater. The 1/96 stater was only about 0.14 to 0.15 grams. The name of Croesus of Lydia became synonymous with wealth. Sardis was renowned as a beautiful city. Around 550 BC, Croesus paid for the construction of the temple of Artemis at Ephesus, one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world. Croesus was beaten by Cyrus II of Persia in 546 BC, and the kingdom became a satrapy.
Lydia was ruled by three dynasties:
Atyads (1300BC or earlier) - Heraclids (Tylonids) (to 687 BC) According to Herodotus the Heraclids ruled for 22 generations during the period from 1185 BC, lasting for 505 years). Alyattes was the king of Lydia in 776 BC. The last king of this dynasty was Myrsilos or Candaules.
The Battle of the Eclipse was the final battle in a fifteen-year war between Alyattes II of Lydia and Cyaxares of the Medes. It took place on May 28, 585 BC, and ended abruptly due to a total solar eclipse.
When the Romans entered its capital Sardis in 133 BC, Lydia, as the other western parts of the Attalid legacy, became part of the province of Asia, a very rich Roman province, worthy of a governor of the high rank of proconsul. The whole west of Asia Minor had Jewish colonies very early, and Christianity was also soon present there. Acts of the Apostles 16:14-15 mentions the baptism of a merchant woman called "Lydia" who came from Thyatira, in what had once been the satrapy of Lydia. Christianity spread rapidly in the 3rd century AD, centered on the nearby Exarchate of Ephesus.