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Harvard-Cornell Team Unearths Lydian Ruins


The capital of Lydia, golden land of the legendary King Crocsus, was larger than archaeologists had thought, a joint Harvard-Cornell expedition disclosed yesterday.

Last summer, in its twelfth return to the ancient city of Sardis, the 33-man archaeological team unearthed a new cluster of houses, gold refinery equipment, a unique sculpture, and masses of pottery.

A 10-year-old boy's accidental discovery of a heap of pottery in a dry stream bed led to the uncovering of the new quarter of houses, which extend far south from the main valley of the Hermus River. The find indicates that in the sixth century B.C., the approximate time of Croesus's reign, 50.000 people lived in Sardis.

The group spent much of the summer rebuilding a 300-foot synagogue, the largest early synagogue known and repairing a Roman gymnasium, an out standing example of the Baroque characteristics of Roman architecture.

Uncontingent Benefaction

According to George Hanfmann, director of the expedition and professor of Fine Arts at Harvard the restoration is an important scientific achievement and also "a permanent memorial of America's incontinent benefaction. adding to the patrimony of Turkey without strings attached."

In restoring the 300-foot synagogue, the archaeologists rebuilt the doors and the colonnade of the forecourt. They also reassembled marble furniture, reconstructed a red-and-white frieze, and installed a copy of a three-foot fountain that will operate when modern piping is completed.

At the gymnasium, which was toppled by an earthquake in ancient times. the expedition team reassembled and lifted 60 feet the pediment of the marble entrance court.

The expedition of artists, architects, and archaeologists was sponsored by the American Schools of Oriental Research and financed by the Ford Foundation through Cornell and the U.S. National

Endowment for the Humanities through Harvard.

Several years of further excavations will be needed to uncover additional material. Hanfmann said. Together with local authorities, the American group has proposed plans to create a "touristic monument zone" without damaging future excavation sites.

Several Hundred Ounces

Following up last season's discovery of a gold refining plant, the team unearthed piles of refining materials in other locations, suggesting that Lydia produced several hundred ounces of gold a week.

Working at the refinery, one group including Sidney Goldstein, a graduate student in Archaeology at Harvard, reconstructed the ancient process used to purify and separate gold from silver.

Gold ornaments believed to be earplugs, were found by David G. Mitten, James Loeb Professor of Fine Arts at Harvard, in a large burial jar which also contained a silver animal figurine and a copper dagger. The artifacts were uncovered to the north of the city, during an investigation of the remnants of a prehistoric civilization dating back to 3000 B.C.

Another discovery made accidentally while digging a canal for a village water supply, unearthed the sculptured pediment from a small mausoleum. The sculpture unlike anything found previously in Sardis, depicts a reclining man drinking wine. with his wife and two daughters sitting at his feet.


Sardis was a center of civilization from the late Stone Age until 1402 A.D., when Monguls led by Tamerlane overran and obliterated the last city to stand there. Under King Crossus, whose name has become associated with great wealth, the Lydian Empire had produced more precious metals than any other land.

The expedition staff included Mrs. Hanfmann, James C. Wildbaum and Emily G. Lort both of the Fogg Art Museum Martha Hoppin, graduate student in Fine Arts at Harvard and Duane W. Roller, graduate student in Archaeology at Harvard.

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