Report 8: Ordinary Lydians at Home: The Lydian Trenches of the House of Bronzes and Pactolus Cliff at Sardis (2021)

by Andrew Ramage and Nancy H. Ramage

Chapter 6. Lydian II (Early to Third Quarter of the Seventh Century B.C.)

The Western Edge of the Lydian Trench

Nowhere else in Sardis do we get such a good sense for a Lydian town as we do in the Lydian II level at HoB. The best-preserved structures from this period are in the western part of the Lydian Trench;1 they form a group, of which several are physically linked to an enclosure wall (Fig. 6.1).

Buildings H, G, and K are connected by a long, gently curving north–south wall that continues for a length of roughly 20 meters (Fig. 6.2; see Fig. 2.3) along Buildings H and G. At the northwest corner of G, there is a curious triple bond between two of G’s walls and the enclosure wall (Fig. 6.3). The enclosure wall then turns slightly to the northwest for another eight meters before turning a corner to the east2 to form the north and east walls of Building K. There are no constructions attached to the outside (or the west side) of this long wall.

The maximum preserved height of the stone socle is ca. 2.0 m at the south end, dropping to ca. 0.60 at the north. Floors slope too, reflecting a fall in ground level that was still visible at the time of excavation.3 The width of the wall is uneven, averaging ca. 0.70 m. Both because there are no projections on the west side and because of its size, the wall is interpreted as a perimeter enclosure of an area of small houses or workshops (see Fig. 6.4). The southwest corner of Building H is the corner of the enclosure (see Fig. 6.5).4

The three rooms attached to the enclosure wall are of comparable size (H: 8 × 3.12 m; G: 6.5 × 4 m; K: 7 × 4 m), and finds from the floors suggest that all of them were built and occupied in the mid-seventh century B.C., although their floor levels vary by up to a meter, following the natural slope just mentioned.5 They have similar interior features, such as the stone foundations found in the corners of both Buildings G and H. The purpose of these interior constructions is unknown, but several others have been found in Lydian structures of this period and later;6 they may have been storage containers.

Buildings H and G are better preserved than K and the roughly contemporary L, which are lower in elevation and have a street running between them. It looks as though a flood might have destroyed the lower buildings (K and L), while the higher survived for a little while longer. The floodwaters may have run down the street between K and L, knocking out both the stone socle and mudbrick walls to either side.

The fragmentary Building O is included within the group of Lydian II houses at the western edge of the trench because it is aligned with Buildings K and L, and shares the passageway between them (see Fig. 6.2). Although only the corner of a building is represented by O, its date and finds, as well as the wall type and apparent function, are closely related to the other four buildings in the area.

Each structure and its associated finds will be described in detail in the following sections.

Building H

There is no doubt that the doorway of Building H was toward the northern end of its east side7 because the stones of the wall, of which only one course remains, are fitted to make a squared end. The opening for the doorway was 0.60 m, a frequent size for Lydian doors.8 There are no traces of any walls joined to the east wall of H, so we may conclude that it was a single independent unit except insofar as it is tied to G and K by the enclosure wall. The walls of the building show a neat packing of stones that were mostly small and irregular in shape, but with a few larger stones at or near the bottom of the wall. Part of the west wall was laid in quite regular horizontal rows, while at the southern end the layering of stones becomes more irregular. The southwest corner of H was distinctly rounded (Figs. 6.4, 6.5).

A large mass of mudbrick that had evidently fallen from the walls was found in and around Building H. Some of this material had been described as blocks of potters’ clay when excavated, but it is now clear that these are mudbricks.9 Some of the bricks remained on the north wall to a height of up to three courses, apparently from a repair, since that section was found in the middle part of the wall, at a lower level than the stones at the ends of the wall (visible in Fig. 6.4). Conceivably this repair might have collapsed into a window opening, since the north side is an especially suitable location for windows in climates where light, but not heat, is required, and there is no sign of any breakage in the other walls. The idea of a repair or conversion is suggested by the haphazard nature of the bond. In many cases the joins were located over one another, whereas it would have been better for them to be offset, as reconstructed with the same bricks (Fig. 6.6). The sizes of individual bricks in situ could be determined (roughly 0.40 × 0.25 × 0.08 m), and these measurements match the size that recurs in the bricks of K and elsewhere, as well as in the city wall built nearby.10

A number of features in Building H indicate the presence of interior furniture of sorts. Attached to the west wall was a raised bench-like structure made of stones, ca. 2.0 × 0.50 m and about 0.15–0.20 m higher than the floor (Figs. 6.7, 6.8). Behind it, up to the wall, was earth fill. It would have provided a useful working surface for someone squatting on his or her haunches.11 On the north side of the bench and just beside it was an oven with two compartments made of hard, burned red clay, and to the north of that was the stone foundation of a storage bin, also divided into roughly equal compartments (visible in Fig. 6.9). It was 1.0 m long by 0.75 m deep and survived to a height of ca. 0.30 m. The stones may be supports for a wooden cupboard or chest, or perhaps they were storage containers for household items in themselves. Thus, on the west side, there was a long narrow working platform or bench, an oven, and a double storage bin nearby.

Just over the storage bin12 was a narrow slit in the exterior wall, perhaps a channel for a wooden fitting or timber framing. At the south end of H, in its east and west walls, were two matching vertical grooves, 1.25 and 1.50 m from the south wall (Fig. 6.10). A line running between them is more or less parallel to the south wall. They are too close to the south wall to have served for a useful room partition and are more likely to have been for built-in furniture like a counter or shelves. Also at the southern end of H was another bench-like structure, 0.20 m high and made of stones and clay.13 It was approximately 0.50 m in width, widening toward the southeast corner, where there seems to have been another cupboard foundation 0.75 m long by 0.50 m deep and 0.20 m higher than the bench.

Many of the finds in Building H were actually on the floor or close to it; others were on the benches. We can, therefore, be confident that the artifact assemblage represents a grouping that was in use in the building at the time of the flood or whatever event put an end to occupation in this period. Several of the better-preserved pieces can be given exact positions within the room, and others at least general indications of their original whereabouts. A number of finds indicate or imply activities in the building. In the southwest corner, apparently on the bench or partly knocked off it, was a collection of fourteen knucklebones. Six of them were from sheep and the rest from cattle (HoB 424). Some of them were ground on both faces and one of each kind had a hole drilled in it. Several were found close together, but there was no indication of a container to suggest a standard set that could have been used for a game.14 In the southeast corner were many fragments of a large cooking pot, oddly an amphora in shape but made of cooking pot fabric, with a perforated base (HoB 417). The holes were made after firing. The condition of the blackened external surface suggests that it saw service as a regular boiling vessel before being turned into a strainer or steamer.15 Either way, the narrow base would have fit well in the mouth of a cooking pot such as that found on the floor of L (HoB 460), acting much like a double boiler.

Roughly between the vertical grooves in the east and west walls, in the middle of the room, was a standard Lydian Waveline amphora (HoB 410). A group of smaller vessels was found further to the north, also in the middle of the room (Fig. 6.10 and Fig. 6.11): a Bichrome jug (HoB 407) on the upper floor; and, on a slightly lower floor, a small Gray Ware bowl (HoB 413) and a large, coarse stemmed dish (HoB 412). In the northeast corner was the neck of a Gray Ware amphora (HoB 415) as well as several loom weights and a large iron implement (HoB 423) that was over a meter in length.16 It was a spit that was presumably meant to be used in the hearth/oven in the northwest corner of the room. In the middle of the room, opposite the hearth and other fixtures, were a cooking pot (HoB 418) and the foot of a plain krater or stand (HoB 416). In addition to these pots and the spit, some catalogued items were not precisely located, although they were definitely associated with H: many joining pieces of a Gray Ware jug (HoB 414) and about half of a red streaked skyphos with a reserved band and handle (HoB 404). A considerable number of miscellaneous but typical potsherds also help in providing a firmer base for our picture of a Lydian house or workshop and its contents.

As illustrated by Figure 6.11, the character of the finds in H is both local and ordinary. No imported pottery is mentioned in the fieldbooks as coming from the floor itself,17 nor was much of note found in the fill above the floor except the base of a small Protocorinthian closed shape (miniature oinochoe HoB 420).18 Apart from the Waveline amphora (HoB 410), there were no obvious Lydian imitations of imports like bird bowls or stemmed kraters. Skyphoi are present, but neither abundant nor varied in decoration. The most common single fabric is Gray Ware, mostly fragments from vessels like jugs, amphorae, or kraters, and although there is some variety in the painted wares, they are not represented in quantity. The most obvious difference from the previous level (Lydian III) is the much lower incidence of Lydian Geometric (Black on Red or Brown on Buff) and of pithos sherds, although some of the Buff Ware is decidedly coarse and thick. The Waveline amphora (HoB 410) and an amphora or oinochoe with pendent hooks (HoB 411), considered together, indicate a date solidly in the seventh century, which fits with the finds in the other attached buildings of Lydian II. But if the pottery represents equipment for a household industry in addition to the regular complement of domestic wares (i.e., dishes, a bowl, two skyphoi, and a jug),19 the lack of fine ornamental tableware is more understandable.

Many pieces of iron were found here, two of which were quite well preserved: a sickle (HoB 422)20 and the spit mentioned already (HoB 423); and two others of significant size but uncertain purpose. There were also ten other pieces “sent to the lab,” but not characterized as to size or shape nor later reported as artifacts. The installation beside the small stone foundation for a storage bin on the west side21 was likely an oven, even though it is basically the same shape as the furnaces in the gold refinery area in the sector Pactolus North.22 Similar examples were found nearby and in the sector Northeast Wadi, a Lydian occupation area near the Temple of Artemis (see Fig. 2.2: no. 16).23 The presence of loom weights adds to the domestic feeling, although knucklebones can, presumably, be enjoyed anywhere.

Building H and the other linked buildings could all be living spaces with some domestic industry within them, as would be completely normal in this period. Perhaps they even belonged to a compound of small houses inhabited by related people.

Building G

Building G, which is separated from Building H by a space of about five meters, is almost a mirror image of H in its main internal arrangements. Where H has a stone foundation in the northwest corner and then an oven or furnace just to its south, G has a stone foundation in the southwest corner. The floor levels of the two units were close: H at *99.0–98.8, and G at *98.5.24 The two units (G and H), as well as the space between them and the area immediately to the east, should be considered together (Fig. 6.12).

Building G had no benches, nor matching vertical grooves across the room, but two grooves were found in the west wall, separated by a distance of 1.2 m. The southern-most was 2.2 m from the southwest corner and lay just beyond the storage bin (Fig. 6.13). They can be interpreted as provision for built-in furniture, like shelves. Certainly the size of the slots in the wall, with a width of ca. 0.10 m, is insufficient for them to have been structural elements of the building itself, and the fragmentary state of the east wall did not show anything to match. Another groove in the south face of the north wall, near the line of the east wall, might have served as a place to site a doorpost. There must have been a door in the east wall, but the gap there now is too wide for any typical Lydian door.

Construction and layout, in reverse, connect H and G, as well as their shared west enclosure wall, but there is nothing among the finds to unite them in terms of specific function. Several pieces of iron were found in G, but it was unclear whether they were finished artifacts. There was a smaller number of potsherds than in H, but three whole or nearly complete pots were found together (Fig. 6.14)—a cream-buff jug, HoB 431; a gray jug, HoB 432; and a small gray jar, HoB 433 (not pictured in the figure)—as well as a fragment of a quern. A Black on Red stemmed dish (HoB 425) with an iron dagger sheath in it (HoB 438) that left a stain on the surface of the pot was found beside the wall just to the east of the stone foundation (Fig. 6.15).25 Farther to the north in the room were several other pots, including a gray stemmed dish (HoB 430); the base of a gray jar (HoB 434); and an elaborately patterned but rather worn white-slipped sherd of Ephesian type (HoB 426). The relative dearth of finds may be attributed to the more serious damage suffered by the north and east walls, which were preserved only to a height of about 0.30 m.

A piece of bird bowl of early type, datable to 675–650 B.C.26 (HoB 437), was found in the area between Buildings G and H, as was an almost intact jug with banded decoration (HoB 409) that lay close to the enclosure wall by H.

Building K

Building K (Fig. 6.16) is about four meters to the north of G. Its northwest corner marks an entrance to the complex of buildings on the western edge of the Lydian Trench, since the enclosure wall does not continue but turns abruptly to the east to form the northwest wall of K.

To the southwest of K, a thick wall (0.50–0.65 m wide and about 6.5 m long), roughly parallel to the enclosure wall, may have defined a street and controlled the entrance to the enclosed space (see Fig. 6.2). A hole ca. 0.20 m wide at the foot of this wall27 is presumably for drainage, for the enclosure wall stops here. Its general alignment is continued by the west wall of Building L, which has been only partially excavated (again, Fig. 6.2). The adjacent walls of K and L are roughly parallel and form an alley or street about 1.5 m wide that leads into the enclosed area.

The southwest and northwest walls of Building K are part of the enclosure system, and K may first have been brought into existence by building a return in the enclosure wall.28 An alley was formed by the short piece of wall base parallel to the northeast wall of K (see Fig. 6.16); this wall is part of Building O, which is described below (p. 83).

The most interesting feature of both Buildings K and L is the large amount of mudbrick (about three courses) preserved in situ. On the northeast and southeast walls of K it rests on a low socle (Fig. 6.17); no mudbrick was preserved on the other two walls. The bricks are a common size (0.40 × 0.25 × 0.08 m)29 and laid as headers. In the bench area at the southwest, some of the bricks were larger, measuring 0.40 × 0.40 m. The matrix—that is, the fill—is repeatedly described as sand that surrounds large chunks of mudbrick.

Building K had a low bench (0.30 m high) faced with clay at its southwestern end, like that at the southern end of H. It was about 0.70 m wide and extended from the southeast wall (missing here; perhaps a doorway) across the width of the room almost to the corner between the northwest and southwest walls. On the inside of the southeast wall of K was a built structure of mudbrick rising about 0.45 m from the floor and measuring ca. 1.2 m wide × 0.60 m deep. This may well be a variant form of the rectangular stone foundations for a storage bin that have already been noted elsewhere. It is unlikely that it is the complete form, since there is no front wall; the excavator himself preferred the idea of a table. It is, however, more suitable for holding boxes or basins than for storage. It was not thought to be a hearth or oven because of the absence of reddening or sooty deposits.

Elaborate precautions were taken to protect the exposed corners of G, K, and L against the strength of the flood-waters that must have struck the buildings and run down the street between them. These safeguards took the form of a large boulder set against the external west face of the enclosure wall where it meets the corner of G (see Fig. 6.3); another placed at the northwest corner of K; and yet another opposite at the southern corner of L (Fig. 6.18). The analogy of modern village precautions against damage from turning carts could not apply here because the alley was too narrow for a wheeled vehicle of any kind. Beyond, past Building O, some other boulders were found, but whether they were protecting J, further to the east, or had been moved there by the floodwaters is unclear. Another sign of the catastrophic nature of the flooding is the abrupt difference in the preserved height of the enclosure wall at the corner of G. It must have been washed away to form part of the great pile of rubble just to the east of K (Fig. 6.19); and the same fate probably affected the upper courses of the socle of G. Presumably torrential runoff would have streamed down the hill and indeed, in the end, must have destroyed the building despite these efforts to protect it.

Despite the survival of three courses of mudbrick on the northeast wall, most of the walls of Building K were not so well preserved as those of G and H, and much of the southeast wall had disappeared due to the rains, as described. There were no whole pots in the room, but a few large fragments remained in the eastern corner and by the bench on the southeast wall.30 Perhaps most of the contents of K were removed before the final abandonment, given that the difference in quantity compared to G and H is so striking. Among the finds, the most obvious imports were fragments of bowls, a small piece of a Protocorinthian linear kotyle, and two pieces of East Greek pottery (HoB 449 and HoB 450). The most common Lydian painted wares were dishes of red Bichrome (HoB 439, HoB 442). Gray Ware kraters and bowls were noted, and there were several pieces of a large lebes in cooking ware comparable to HoB 460 from Building L. On or near the floor were fragments of three large Gray Ware skyphos kraters, each with different profiles.31 And the fact that two fragments of HoB 446 found in 1968 join another piece found in 196432 some 25 meters away suggests action of floodwaters rather than casual transport after breakage.

A large amount of pottery, including a complete cooking pot (HoB 436) and fragments of a large white Bichrome amphora (HoB 445), was found in the space directly between G and K and rather to the east of them. There was a considerable layer of stones in this area, which might have been debris from K deposited by the flood, or the remains of a wall in its own right (see Fig. 6.19). In the character of its finds, this space is closely linked with G and K and should be thought of as an associated activity area, if not an additional establishment. It also corresponds in the general floor level, identified over several seasons at roughly *98.5. It had much evidence of heavy use, as witnessed by the finds from patches of occupation debris and frequent mention of areas like hearths, despite the fact that it was not heavily built over.

At first sight one might propose that the distinct differences in level among H, G, and K reflected a temporal subdivision or sequence. But the evidence for the physical linking of three buildings and the close association of at least five, including L and O, whose floors range in level from *98.9 to *97.3 over a distance of 30–35 meters, suggests that these buildings should indeed be linked in terms of chronology and common use. Smaller areas just beyond them had no defining walls and were isolated in the gravel, so it is not clear how they were associated. The pattern of finds beyond the buildings is much the same as that within, and there are no implements that are clearly specialized,33 nor many caches of items to suggest stocks of goods ready for customers. There is a good chance that all objects found here were meant for domestic purposes.

Building L

Although Building L was only partially excavated and only one corner is fixed, its external dimensions have been determined to have been more than 7.5 × 4.5 m, making it therefore comparable or even equivalent in size to K (see Fig. 6.2). However, its floor is 0.50 m lower than that of K.34 The level of the alley running along its southeast side corresponds to the higher level of the floor in K. The alley was worn in such a way that the center of it was lower than the edges, reflecting the fact that people walked down the middle of it, and the edges remained remarkably sloped upwards toward the walls at the sides (Fig. 6.21).

Building L’s east and south walls are 0.70 m wide, with bricks the same size as those of K but without good bonding across the wall. Of the five courses that were exposed, the upper two of the outer face are set in a few centimeters from the line of those below, as visible in Figure 6.21. The inner face of the south wall was covered, right down to the floor, with smooth mud plaster (seen in the center of Fig. 6.20), which itself bore a thin white coating. This coating was sufficiently thick to have been a limey plaster rather than salt encrustation leached out from the wall, but there is no record of its having been tested.35 In the northwest corner a similar finish was found on what may be part of a mudbrick work station or platform, 0.60 m in height, similar to the one described in K (Fig. 6.22).36 It was higher than the benches in H.

In some ways L showed the effects of flooding more than the other buildings, although its structure was not so much damaged. This is best seen on the inner face of the southeast wall, where there are three large gaps in the surface and a considerable amount of the interior packing had been lost (see Fig. 6.20). These gaps are at regular intervals of about one meter, an observation that indicated to the excavator that something in the design of the building was responsible for the pattern. He suggested that a series of window openings might have offered an easy path to the rush of floodwaters, which removed parts of the inner face of the wall as they fell to floor level. The level of the alley was higher than the level of the floor in L, so one can easily imagine the waters rushing in through the windows, swirling around inside, and removing some of the surface of the interior walls. Certainly the lowest level of fill within the building was composed of disintegrated wall material, indicated by the finer-textured layer under the thick gravel, which is much coarser. It is also noteworthy that the wall of L and the corresponding wall of K were sheared off evenly at the same level.

There is not much independent record for the placement of windows in Lydian buildings. One can, however, see structures in Mediterranean towns and villages today where the street level has almost reached the sills of the ground-floor windows, and one must descend into the house, as was evidently necessary at the west end of L. A situation like that would offer an easy path to the water running down the alley.

Besides producing damage to the walls, the abrupt flooding resulted in even fewer fragments of pots and other artifacts that could be directly associated with the floor in L than in G or H. One piece that miraculously escaped destruction is a large, double-handled cooking pot (HoB 460). It was intact except for the lost upper part of one handle and the detached narrow flat base. Its overall shape, with two handles, is somewhat unusual, and the potter took the trouble to decorate it with incised horizontal lines on the shoulder and belly. It was found within the room,37 but unfortunately rather close to the edge of the trench, and there were no associated finds. Elsewhere in Building L, Gray Ware and painted ware fragments, including two pieces of white-slipped Ephesianizing dishes found on the floor (HoB 453 and HoB 454), were found in approximately equal numbers. A fragment from a small closed shape (HoB 457), decorated with brown paint over a smooth, thick white slip, belongs to the same tradition.38 It is close to the Geometric tradition and to Anatolian patterns.

A date for the floor is suggested by a piece of a bird bowl (HoB 461) with a nicked rim, steep profile, and delicate bird. These features, and in particular the arc and circle painted at the right of the bird, put it in Coldstream’s Group II, which is dated around the second quarter of the seventh century.39 More weight is attached to the bird bowl than to the white-slip pieces because they are local, and easily confused with borders of pieces from Greek Orientalizing wares that are normally dated later. Similar additional objects, such as Lydian painted pieces and the two-handled cooking pot, recovered while the foundations of the southwest wall of the room were cleared, come from within L and from quite near the floor.40 Additional material consisted of numerous fragments,41 including six Gray Ware pieces that joined to form half the neck of an amphora (HoB 459),42 and one fragment of a large white Bichrome stand (HoB 458).

A probe in 1983 below the east–west passageway between K and L revealed no occupation level there that corresponded to the Lydian III level43 further east and south. But bands of sand and gravel continued in this trench and in another nearby44 to levels corresponding to the earlier (Lydian IV) levels of the deep soundings. This association was also confirmed by finds from the Lydian IV floors,45 which included an Iron Age cooking pot (HoB 295).

It is quite clear that this area belongs to the complex of related buildings of the Lydian II period. One is tempted to speculate, in fact, that additional buildings in HoB were similarly organized to the north and west. Note that many of the Lydian buildings and walls at both lower and higher levels have a similar orientation.

Building O

About a meter beyond the east wall of K and aligned with its north wall stands the corner of Building O (see Fig. 6.2), with a pithos (HoB 463) placed within the angle of the northwest corner (Fig. 6.23). The neck of the pithos and the base of the walls were at approximately the same level,46 and, in spite of the absence of a hard surface in this area, we can imagine that it projected a little above the floor. A hearth with a cooking pot (HoB 462) lay near a roughly cobbled “pavement” at a comparable level five meters to the east (Fig. 6.24).47 It is situated close to a rather flimsy socle that may indicate an apsidal end to the building; conceivably it was a repair or temporary solution. A structure of roughly 4 × 6 m is proposed, and one that would have been much less solid than the other buildings described. This would allow some space between O and J (still further to the east), and brings both J and the early floors under D into the general organization of the buildings of Lydian II.

The pithos within the building was 1.20 m high, with a maximum diameter of 0.95 m. Inside it were 24 pieces of Lydian painted pottery, as well as 12 gray, 10 plain buff, and 2 cooking pot fragments, and one piece of breadtray. Among the painted wares were the rims of a red Bichrome krater and of a white Bichrome plate, both solid indicators of the Lydian II period, as is the general quantitative distribution, if such a small sample has much validity. In a trench beside the pithos—in other words, below the floor level—were about 60 waterworn sherds, many of them Gray Ware. This suggests that the material in the fill below the floor belongs to Lydian III, although no floor was reached.48

Building J

Building J is a slightly irregular rectangular building 5 × 8 m on the exterior (Fig. 6.25) that stands further east than the associated Buildings H, G, K, L, and O.49 Several quite large stones, ca. 0.35 m long, were used in its walls, but they are not uniform, nor is their use regular. Along the west wall is a long narrow bench of four meters,50 and against the south wall, at the southeast corner, a three-sided rectangular feature built of small stones.51 These features exactly parallel those in Building H. Most of the north side was missing a wall, but a semicircular depression of about 0.10 m in depth seems to have filled the space where a wall might have been.

Both the southeast and the southwest corners of J were carelessly built. It is conceivable that the stones were purposely laid in a fanlike fashion, but there is no precedent for this. A finished opening a meter wide in the west side appears to be a door with a threshold of small stones. A gap of about 0.50 m in the east wall seems to have been unintentional, since the ends are not finished. There exists no sign of a wall to the northeast that would join J to other buildings.

Building J is an example of a simple freestanding building within the complex, such as became common in the next period of occupation. Its main floor52 is comparable to the elevations of the floors and surfaces to the west, if we exclude Building L as being a special case. The abundant pottery from inside the building suggests a date in the middle of the seventh century. The proportion of Gray Ware is considerable (30 percent over about ten boxes), mixed with both red and white Bichrome, including a substantial portion of a large Lydian red Bichrome skyphos (HoB 466). In addition, nine fragments of a Late Protocorinthian linear kotyle (HoB 467)53 suggest a date in the second quarter of the seventh century, or probably more toward the middle of the century.54 Many shoulder fragments of an imported jug (HoB 468), most of which were found in the fill, have been dated not earlier than 630 B.C. by Nezih Aytaçlar and Michael Kerschner, but these should be from the next phase of the building.55 A Carian graffito with four letters on a Lydian Buff Ware fragment,56 also found in the fill above the floor, is an early example of writing from Sardis. Considerable remains of drinking vessels and plates turned up, but not many pithos or breadtray fragments. Directly to the north of J,57 and lying on the floor, was a complete iron spit about 0.71 m long (HoB 469).

At a level about 60 centimeters higher than the floor of Building J was another floor (at *98.4) that falls between Lydian I and Lydian II (see p. 101 for discussion). From around this floor came a deposit of sherds and a loom weight (HoB 470HoB 476). One of the sherds, a Protocorinthian linear kotyle (HoB 473), dated in the early to middle seventh century, is earlier than the rest of this group, and may belong in the context of Building J. The deposit also includes a late seventh-century Late Transitional or Early Corinthian base (HoB 472); a rim sherd of a small bowl with a nicked rim and chevron patterns (HoB 475), which belongs to the East Greek or Island tradition;58 and another rim sherd of a bird bowl (HoB 474).

In general, among the simple Lydian painted wares, there is more streaky and Waveline ware than there had been in Lydian III, and more simple painted bands in dark but not lustrous red and black paint. The polychrome ware is equal parts black and red, and black and white types. Of the twenty-three skyphos sherds from Building J, seventeen have no paint on their outside (except for a fine band at the rim in three cases) and rather weak-looking streaky paint inside; the others are painted solid on both sides. The general proportions of pottery from the Lydian II level in Building J show the change that has been noted elsewhere: Gray Ware has decreased and skyphoi have increased. For this area of Building J, the actual figures from two boxes at the Lydian II level are 25 percent simple Lydian painted, 25 percent Gray Ware, 15 percent Bichrome, 15 percent Lydian Buff Ware, 10 percent cooking pots, and 5 percent each of skyphoi, pithoi, and breadtray.

Other objects from Building J included a small piece of an incised pithos sherd (HoB 471) and a lumpy four-sided loom weight (HoB 476); and from the corner of a hearth or oven: baked mudbrick 0.10 × 0.125 × 0.027–0.034 m with brown clay on the underside and a top that was smooth and gray. There were also five pieces of iron. This mixture of proportions fits well with the buildings of Lydian II at the west side of the trench, and with objects specifically associated with Building J.

To the northeast of Building J, at W10/S89, level *98.13, a round circle was filled with clay, as if the inhabitants were trying to dry the clay for some further use (Figs. 6.1 and 6.26). Perhaps it was the base of a later pit that had been dug in from above.

The assemblage of eating and drinking vessels, together with the freestanding nature of the building, makes one wonder if Building J might have been a wine shop or eating establishment.

  • Şek. 6.1

    (Telif hakkı Sart Amerikan Hafriyat Heyeti / Harvard Üniversitesi)

  • Şek. 6.2

    (Telif hakkı Sart Amerikan Hafriyat Heyeti / Harvard Üniversitesi)

  • Şek. 2.3

    (Telif hakkı Sart Amerikan Hafriyat Heyeti / Harvard Üniversitesi)

  • Şek. 6.3

    (Telif hakkı Sart Amerikan Hafriyat Heyeti / Harvard Üniversitesi)

  • Şek. 6.4

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South Side and Central Area: Bothroi

A great many roughly circular pits were encountered in the course of excavating between levels *98 and *97 (see Fig. 6.1). Their sizes vary from as little as one meter to as much as three meters in diameter. We have referred to them as bothroi, or storage pits, although it is not clear whether all had the same use or even whether storage was their main function.

Most were dug through the thick gravel layer separating the occupation level of Lydian II from the clayey level covering the burned floor of Lydian III. The bottoms of many bothroi coincide with that clayey layer or were just cut into it, as if the makers were looking for a solid base after digging through as much as a meter of gravel. Thus, some of the bottoms of the bothroi went through to Lydian III, but they have mostly been shown on our plan of Lydian II, because that is when they were dug and used.

The gravel was so loose that some of the contents of the bothroi had to be excavated in reverse, that is, after the surrounding, previously undisturbed gravel had been pulled away (Fig. 6.27). In most cases, the contents were much the same kinds of pottery as the finds in the surrounding gravel, although in several cases the fill had taken on a distinctive greenish cast, which often indicates the presence of organic matter.

We were not able to determine what these bothroi were used for. Some of the pits were lined with a whitish plaster-like material (Fig. 6.28), but this did not survive well enough in any particular instance to help with the question of purpose and use. There was nothing that would mark them specifically as storage bins rather than vats for industrial purposes such as clay settling or dye making.

Intersecting bothroi are more common in the northern part of the Central Area, which had in the previous period at least one specialized activity centered around a small oven or furnace. In the South Side corner of the trench, however, bothroi were usually single, even though a few were intersecting here too. At least one here has a high elevation (*99.02) and might be as late as Lydian I.

One of the bothroi, and possibly more, appears to have been used as a rubbish pit. This one was located just to the east of Building G,59 an area that showed many signs of occupation, as alluded to already. The whole collection of pits in both the South Side and the Central Area could have been part of a pattern of refuse tipping by the occupants of the floors of Lydian II. Curiously enough, however, many of the pottery finds in this bothros east of G were not obviously rubbish at all. Several were unbroken pots in good condition, perhaps victims of changing taste or overzealous spring cleaning. Without internal stratification, it is hard to reconstruct what accident or circumstances resulted in the deposit of this group of twenty-one pieces; however, it is of some value as a well-preserved group of pots contemporary with the housing complex associated with the enclosure wall.

  • HoB 477 Ephesianizing stemmed dish
  • HoB 478 Black on Red stemmed dish
  • HoB 479 Black on Red stemmed dish
  • HoB 480 round-mouthed jug
  • HoB 481 small trefoil-mouth oinochoe
  • HoB 482 squat trefoil-mouth oinochoe
  • HoB 483 trefoil-mouth banded oinochoe
  • HoB 484 neck of red Bichrome amphora
  • HoB 485 neck of Waveline amphora
  • HoB 486 small squat Black on Red jar
  • HoB 487 small squat jar
  • HoB 488 round-profile trefoil-mouth oinochoe
  • HoB 489 squat Gray Ware round-mouthed jug
  • HoB 490 neck of Gray Ware amphora
  • HoB 491 large coarse cooking pot
  • HoB 492 breadtray
  • HoB 493 rim of a small serving bowl, Aeolic (?)
  • HoB 494 imitation Protocorinthian ovoid aryballos
  • HoB 495 rim and neck of a Protocorinthian aryballos
  • HoB 496 imitation Protocorinthian aryballos
  • HoB 497 loom weights

Beside this group of catalogued items, the proportion of pottery in one box from the pit was: 30 percent cooking ware; 30 percent plain and pithos; 20 percent gray; 20 percent painted. Painted wares included Waveline, streaky, and early Lydian Geometric.

This hoard has been treated as coming from the pit and as belonging to Lydian II proper because, although it was described as a “heap,” it was also “embedded in brown earth, and rested on gravel about 20 cm above the heavy clay surface. Gravel beds at sides and above.” The location of the pit is so close to G that there is every reason to suppose that the people who used G were presumably engaged in the activities that brought them to dump pots in the bothros nearby.

The connection with the Lydian II level is reinforced by the fact that the Ephesianizing stemmed dish (HoB 477) from this hoard is composed of several pieces, many of which come from a considerably higher level, at *98.65–98.55, corresponding well to the floor level of G. When one characterizes the whole assemblage, the overwhelming impression is that this is mostly local material, just as was the case for the pottery found in H (see Fig. 6.11) and associated buildings. Nonetheless, several pieces60 are either actual Greek imports or are close enough to indicate a preference for the style. One piece, the rim of a small serving bowl, is thought to be Aeolic (HoB 493). The fragment from a large Greek bowl with a nicked rim, from slightly above the group but below the *98.6 floor level (HoB 503), is probably from Euboea,61 and is similar to, but much finer than its Lydian imitator from the contemporary floor (HoB 500). Some of the other pieces, like Waveline and banded fragments, are of a local fabric but have a generic relationship to Greek wares in their decoration. A third category also has a local flavor but shows a relationship to southwest Anatolian wares, in particular the “delicate” style.62 These connections fit well not only with the pottery found in G, with which the group belongs, but also with the pottery from the other buildings of the Lydian II complex.

A sherd with unusual elongated S designs (HoB 427) from a round-mouthed jug is intriguing for its decoration.63 In the area yet further to the east64 there were a few pottery finds (HoB 501)65 as well as a decorated bone roundel or chape carved in the Animal Style (HoB 507).66 The bone disk, and another one that was found nearby,67 could have been made by a Lydian or a foreigner. Yet another bone disk was found at the same level, but in the northern part of the trench, in the area of Building J (HoB 506). Perhaps these were taken off opposing dead soldiers.68 It is interesting that in close proximity we have evidence of the Animal Style as well as a Carian graffito and Lydian pottery en masse. It must have been a cosmopolitan place.

In the absence of additional structures or an obvious pattern to the artifacts, no specific activities may be recognized. Maybe it was an informally shared space, such as that frequently seen in modern villages near the well or on a common path outside the buildings.

  • Şek. 6.1

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East End

No preserved remains of structures at the east of the Lydian Trench balance that remarkable planned group at the west side; on the east side, only traces of buildings and nearby occupation debris were found. In particular, a floor, and a “nest” of pots associated with it,69 is from the mid-seventh century. It included Lydian Geometric, Bichrome, and monochrome, as well as a piece of an imitation East Greek stemmed dish (HoB 510); the neck of a white Bichrome jar decorated with concentric pendent hooks between horizontal bands (HoB 508); and just to the west, several nonjoining pieces of a large closed red Bichrome jar (HoB 509). Over the whole level, where floors were preserved, potsherds were consistently associated with Lydian II characteristics.

The pattern of walls in this area is difficult to reconstruct because the structures may have been dismantled to provide room or materials for those that followed. In these cases the floor areas and finds must be presented as postscripts to the descriptions of whole buildings of the Lydian II period. This gives them rather more reality in terms of location, insofar as they are not merely anonymous collections of grid coordinates, but adjuncts to actual structures or living spaces.

Although the concentration of coherent buildings from Lydian II is located in HoB south of S87, finds from this level were identified too in the small excavations dug in the northernmost part of the trench under the Roman House of Bronzes. In the “Lydian Room” (pp. 91–92), a floor that showed much evidence of burning was identified at *96.7.70 It was found 1.5 m below the level of Lydian I, from which it was separated by waterlaid sand and gravel. Only small sections of wall survived in this area, but many fragments of pottery were found among the remains of ash and charcoal (see p. 92). Below the “Lydian Shop” there was unmistakable evidence of Lydian II as well (pp. 90–91).


During Lydian II, the people of Sardis flourished sufficiently to set up and maintain a complex of small buildings in a denser configuration and with more substantial walls than the architectural remains from the previous levels had shown. The simple structures of this period have been taken as some form of housing in which household industry or home manufacture would have taken place. Much of the importance of the housing complex, besides its architectural interest, derives from the fact that at least three of the rooms (H, G, and K), having been relatively undisturbed, produced a considerable number of objects that were either stored on shelves or already on the floor when the structures were abandoned.

The circumstances point to something sudden bringing occupancy to an end, but human violence seems less likely than flooding, which, as mentioned in the introduction (pp. 29–30), was frequent but not always on a grand scale. An explanation such as this might help to account for the lack of small objects (other than pots), which could have been swept into a knapsack at short notice. We might also speculate that the inhabitants or workers in this area did not have much in the way of personal possessions.

The evidence for the decoration and shapes of pottery in Lydian II helps us to form an assessment of the Lydians’ interest in both Greek and Anatolian pottery, especially that from Gordion. The borrowings from the east can be seen perhaps in a revival of taste for round-mouthed jugs, especially those with flaring necks (Lydian III prototype: HoB 376; Lydian II imitation: HoB 427), following the Phrygian model.71 It is of considerable significance that the Lydian II level shows such a sparse number of imports,72 while the earlier level below (Lydian III) and the later level above (Lydian I) had a much higher proportion.

Although the historical record in the literary sources claims that the Kimmerian attack on Sardis occurred ca. 652 B.C., which falls within the period when the houses of Lydian II were standing, the evidence from this level does not reveal the kind of disastrous burning and destruction seen in Lydian III, and we cannot point to clear marks of their attack.73 There has been a great deal of discussion of the Kimmerians in the Sardis literature,74 but the evidence does not show a catastrophic fire in Lydian II. Nor do we find evidence in HoB of the Persian attack in the following century.

It is now time to turn to the higher levels, where the remains of Lydian I lie above and sometimes directly upon the constructions of earlier periods.


  • 1Especially between W15 and W40.
  • 2At W34–36, the enclosure wall runs from S128 to S107, as the west walls of H and G, then turns northwest and continues as far as W39/S100, the northwest corner of Building K.
  • 3The base level of the precinct wall, however, shows less variation. It is ca. *98.4 at the south and *98.1 at the north.
  • 4Its east–west wall has not been traced beyond W24. The south wall of H appears to continue to the east, but that continuation is from a much later period.
  • 5The two floor levels of H are at *99.0 and ca. *98.8; of G, at *98.4; and of K, at *97.9.
  • 6For example, in Buildings J, A, and D.
  • 7At W31.5 between S122 and 123.
  • 8Ramage, Sardis M5, p. 6.
  • 9The earlier assumption was not entirely unreasonable: there was little experience with actual mudbricks up to that time and certainly no notion that some of them might be almost as plastic as potters’ clay. It required the excavation of the Lydian city wall to show the variety of composition in mudbricks.
  • 10The saved mudbricks from Building H (all of them with stone inclusions) had the following dimensions: (1) a complete one: L. 0.40, W. 0.25, Th. 0.07–0.08; (2) a complete one: L. 0.38, W. 0.25–26, Th. 0.07–0.09; (3) a partial one: pres. L. 0.32, W. 0.26, Th. 0.08; (4) a half-brick: L. 0.210–0.225, Th. 0.07–0.08; (5) one uneven across the top: Th. 0.07. For sizes and use of mudbricks at Old Smyrna, Nicholls 1959, pp. 100–106; for bricks in the city wall at Sardis, Greenewalt, Rautman, and Meriç, “Sardis 1983,” p. 27, n. 14.
  • 11Compare the benches in the Lydian houses in MMS-I: Greenewalt et al., “Sardis 1986,” pp. 146, 153.
  • 12At W35.5/S120.5.
  • 13Second “bench-like structure”: W. ca. 0.50, H. 0.20 m.
  • 14Others were found in Building D; see p. 98. Compare to 1985 finds; mid-sixth-century group in a domestic context: Greenewalt, Rautman, and Cahill, “Sardis 1985,” p. 84. On the supposed invention of the game of knucklebones in Lydia, see Kurke 1999.
  • 15The holes were quite clearly knocked into it after firing, and not very skillfully either.
  • 161.07 m long (Waldbaum, Sardis M8, cat. no. 215).
  • 17One sherd from the floor (HoB 419) may be an imported Anatolian Black on Red.
  • 18Sardis M10, cat. Cor 30, fig. 13 (Middle Protocorinthian to Late Protocorinthian).
  • 19See HoB 403HoB 407, HoB 413.
  • 20Waldbaum, Sardis M8, cat. no. 119. Waldbaum dated the sickle to the sixth century, but given its context, it must be seventh century in date.
  • 21At W34–35/S121.5–122.5.
  • 22Hanfmann, Waldbaum et al., “Sardis 1968, 1969,” p. 23; Ramage and Craddock, Sardis M11, pp. 83–87.
  • 23Hanfmann and Waldbaum, Sardis R1, pp. 118–25.
  • 24A second floor at *98.3, mentioned in Hanfmann, “Sardis 1965,” p. 12, has been reinterpreted as a layer of mudbrick.
  • 25Waldbaum, Sardis M8, cat. no. 7, pl. 1 (seventh century B.C.). The sheath shows clearly in the photograph of the bowl in situ (Fig. 6.15), and the stain it left is visible on the surface of the bowl.
  • 26Second quarter of the seventh century, or about 650, not later, based on parallels with Akpınar necropolis, Klazomenai, according to N. Aytaçlar and M. Kerschner (personal communication, Sardis 2016).
  • 271.20 m from the west end of the wall.
  • 28At W39/S100.
  • 29See p. 74, note 10 for variation in brick sizes.
  • 30The floor level was about *97.90.
  • 31HoB 446, HoB 447, and HoB 448. HoB 447 has a flat rim and sloping shoulder, quite unlike those of the usual gray or Waveline containers.
  • 321968: at W35–37/S99–100; 1964: at W20–25/S119–115.
  • 33However, a double axe (HoB 452) was found on the floor near the east corner of Building K at W29/S99. See also Waldbaum, Sardis M8, cat. no. 129; Hanfmann and Thomas, “Sardis 1970,” p. 9.
  • 34At *97.3.
  • 35It seems quite probable that the substances would be chemically similar and one would be no wiser.
  • 36It does not look like the return of the wall, and it had a smoothed upper surface, but, in making the estimate of the overall width for the building, we have assumed that it was attached to a northwest wall.
  • 37At W37/S93.
  • 38E. Dusinberre reports (Dusinberre, Lynch, and Voigt 2019) that Brown on Buff ware turns up at Gordion in post–Destruction Level contexts, but seems to die out by the late seventh or early sixth century. Cf. Sams 1994, pp. 166–67.
  • 39Coldstream, GGP, pp. 299–300.
  • 40At the time of excavation there was some uncertainty about the level to which this wall belonged, because of its depth, but the plan and the water damage elsewhere leave no doubt.
  • 41Including 18 Gray Ware, 8 painted, and 4 buff fragments.
  • 42Gray Ware amphora dimensions: pres. H. 0.158 m, exterior diameter 0.24; int. 0.20.
  • 43At ca. *97.
  • 44W34–36/S92–94.
  • 45Greenewalt, Rautman, and Meriç, “Sardis 1983,” pp. 18–19.
  • 46*97.5.
  • 47The recorded findspot of HoB 462 places it outside the area of the cobbled floor and Building O. We have not been able to reconcile the fieldbook notes of G. F. Swift and the architectural plan made at the time.
  • 48By *96.5.
  • 49At W14–22/S89–98. The east wall is between 0.50 and 0.45 m thick, the north wall at the northeast corner is 0.40, and the average is ca. 0.45 m.
  • 500.20 m high, 0.50 wide.
  • 51Ca. 0.96 × 0.72 m.
  • 52At ca. *97.85.
  • 53This piece is dated late in Transitional or early in Early Corinthian by Schaeffer (Sardis M10, cat. Cor 75), who followed a rather late dating of kotylai by C. Brokaw (1964). In Sardis M10, this piece is identified as coming from G, but it actually came from J. There was some confusion in the labeling of the buildings early on.
  • 54As per discussion with Michael Kerschner and Nezih Aytaçlar (personal communication, July 1–2, 2016).
  • 55One fragment was recorded as found on the floor, but we regard this as an error, since all the rest were in the fill above; and the rest of the finds were in the fill above as well.
  • 56P66.52 (=IN66.32): Hanfmann, “Sardis 1966,” fig. 7. See also P61.179: Hanfmann and Masson 1967; Gusmani, Sardis M3, C II 2 (b); and Gusmani 1982, pp. 128–29.
  • 57At W16/S89 *98.3.
  • 58Cf. Boardman 1967, no. 159 for decoration, referencing Friis-Johansen 1958, p. 121 for skyphoi in general. Also Popham and Sackett 1968, pl. 50: 200–204. See now Kerschner and Schlotzhauer 2005.
  • 59At W29–30/S114 *98.2–97.6.
  • 60HoB 494, HoB 495, and HoB 496.
  • 61Popham, Sackett, and Themelis 1979, vol. I, p. 63 and pl. 46.
  • 62HoB 478, HoB 479, and especially HoB 486.
  • 63It is less closely fixed for findspot but was probably from a bothros.
  • 64Beyond a line at W25.
  • 65Including P12.140.
  • 66This is one of four bone roundels found in the Lydian Trench. For other Animal Style roundels, see the discussion of Building F, p. 100.
  • 67Greenewalt, Cahill et al., “Sardis 1986,” p. 166 and fig. 35.
  • 68Two other bone pieces were found in the Lydian I level; they were being reworked and may be trophies from this event. The bronze horse trapping with the head of a hawk (HoB 735), found six years earlier in about the same area, also comes from a later Lydian level.
  • 69At E5.5/S97.5 *99.0–98.8.
  • 70At the time, it was called Lydian level II B. Hanfmann, “Sardis 1959,” p. 30.
  • 71Young 1981, pp. 114–21 (bronzes) and 224–27 (pottery); Sams 1994, pp. 176, 178, 188.
  • 72Sardis M10, pp. 3–4.
  • 73Another instance of an attack in which the large fires described in the historical record do not appear in the stratigraphic record, without undermining our confidence that it actually took place, is the attack of the Ionians in 499 B.C. See Herodotus V.101 (Sardis M2, no. 282).
  • 74Hanfmann and Mierse, SPRT, pp. 29, 68.
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