A Harvard-Cornell archaeological expedition in western Turkey uncovered a 2500 year old citadel this summer. The fortress, found at Sardis, the capital of the Lydian kingdom, was stormed by King Cyrus when he dethroned King Croesus in 547 B.C.
The expedition unearthed a number of other important finds, including an early Christian basilica of the time of Constantine, 40 graves dug into the ruins of the church and Lydian sculptures, jewelry and pottery, George M.A. Hanfmann, professor of Archaeology, said.
Hanfmann, the leader of the expedition, said the archaeologists also managed to complete the restoration and conservation of the western part of the city.
The 30-foot long fortress, built in the sixth or fifth century B.C., reveals the Lydians had a sophisticated military architecture, Hanfmann said.
The discovery of the Christian basilica shows that Sardis had a large Christian community by 350 A.D. "It is the earliest church we have yet discovered at Sardis," Hanfmann said. "It is significant for the
Hanfmann said members of the expedition have received an honorary citation from the Turkish government for their "contribution to Turkish culture." impact of Christianity upon ancient cities that an entire new city quarter was constructed together with the church."
The excavation staff also completed the restoration of a gymnasium complex which included the largest known ancient synagogue dating from the fourth or third century B.C. A long row of shops, built alongside the synagogue and owned by Jewish and Christian merchants, was repaired.
Around 250 people have been working on the expedition, which will begin its 17th season next summer.
The National Endowment for the Humanities, the Turkish government and a number of individual foundations and donors provided funding for the program.
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