Day Five, Thyatira, Sardis, Turkey

November 17, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

I really covered a lot of ground today. In fact, I visited three of the seven churches of Revelation. First I visited Thyateira then Sardis and finally Philadelphia.


Thyatira, modern Akhisar, is located 42 mi. [67 km.] inland from the Aegean Sea. In early Christian times, Thyateira was home to a significant Christian church, mentioned as one of the seven Churches of the Book of Revelation. According to Revelation, a woman named Jezebel (who called herself a prophetess) taught and seduced the Christians of Thyateira to commit sexual immorality and to eat things sacrificed to idols. (Revelation 2:18–29)

Near the center of what was Thyateira (now Akhisar), visible archaeological remains are located in a fenced off rectangular city block. From coins it is evident that guilds of bakers, bronze smiths, wool workers, potters, linen weavers and tanners were active in the city. Such guilds would often hold banquets that included the eating of food offered to idols and participation in immoral sexual acts. (Revelation 2:20–24)

The Apostle Paul and Silas might have visited Thyateira during Paul's second or third journey, although the evidence is entirely circumstantial. They visited several small unnamed towns in the general vicinity during the second journey. While in Philippi, Paul and Silas stayed with a woman named Lydia from Thyateira, who continued to help them even after they were jailed and released. (Acts 16:11–15)


Here is an image that may remind you of an animated or movie character...




Revelation 3:1-6
"And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: These are the words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars:

"I know your works; you have a name of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is on the point of death, for I have not found your works perfect in the sight of my God. Remember then what you received and heard; obey it, and repent. If you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you. Yet you have still a few persons in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes; they will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. If you conquer, you will be clothed like them in white robes, and I will not blot your name out of the book of life; I will confess your name before my Father and before his angels. Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches.

One of the main streets of ancient Sardis.  At one point it would have been lined with pillars and shops.



A large complex built in the center of the lower city in the 2nd century AD included a gymnasium and a bathhouse. The complex was over five acres in size and its western part was characterized by large vaulted halls for bathing.  The eastern part was a palaestra, a large open courtyard for exercise.

Sardis was one of the legendary cities of Asia Minor in what is today Turkey. In the seventh century B.C., Sardis was the capital of the kingdom of Lydia. Gold was found in the river near Sardis and the kings who lived there were renowned for their wealth. The Persians captured Sardis in the sixth century and made it the administrative center for the western part of their empire. The fabled "royal road" connected Sardis with the Persian cities to the east. In New Testament times, Sardis was part of the Roman province of Asia.


The public toilet with no dividers... but a great place to have sit-down talks.  This area probably had at least twenty toilets that could be occupied at once. Not sure about ventilation, however a trench with running water ran below the drop.


The Synagogue of Sardis

The Synagogue of Sardis is notable for its size and location.  In size it is one of the largest ancient synagogues excavated.  In location it is found in the center of the urban center, instead of on the periphery as synagogues typically were.  This attests to the strength and wealth of the Jewish community in the city.  This synagogue came into use in the 3rd century AD.

This impressive synagogue had over eighty Greek and seven Hebrew inscriptions as well as numerous mosaic floors.


Christian symbols are found at different points in Sardis.


Here is the Greek language and the English meaning to the symbol below:

ΙΧΘΥΣ (Ichthys) is an acronym for "Ίησοῦς Χριστός, Θεοῦ Υἱός, Σωτήρ", (Iēsous Christos, Theou Yios, Sōtēr), which translates into English as "Jesus Christ, God's Son, Savior". All five of these Greek letters are depicted in the four lines within a circle, a very early Christian symbol.

Today, the site is located by the present day village of Sart, near Salihli in the Manisa province of Turkey.


Temple of Artemis

The temple dedicated Artemis in Sardis was one of the seven largest Greek temples (more than double the size of the Parthenon). Artemis, known as Diana by the Romans, was the daughter of Zeus and twin of Apollo.  She was the goddess of the hunt, the moon and fertility.

The goddess Artemis was the principal deity worshiped at Sardis, as well as at Ephesus and other cities. In legends, Artemis is often pictured as a pure and virgin huntress, fearless in opposing her adversaries. As the goddess of the city, she may have been perceived more in her role as a mother goddess, a provider of fertility and overseer of childbirth.

The Temple of Artemis next to the Pactolus River (Sart cayi) dates from the 4th century B.C. There was a temple dedicated to goddess Kybele before that during the time of King Croesus - This one was destroyed by Athenians during the revolt of Ionians against the Persian rule. Then Alexander the Great ordered a new one, the Temple of Artemis, on the same site.




The Byzantine Church known as Church M is dwarfed by older temple ruins of Artemis.  This Christian place of worship was used from the 4th to 7th century.




This was a very small excavation. However, this building must have been enormous when considering the size of the walls that remained.


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