Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Trip to Turkey: Thyatira/Sardis

Thursday, June 18 we headed for Thyatira and Sardis.  Thyatira is in modern Akhisar, and is an ancient ruin as are all of these places.

This is what Jesus said to the church in Thyatira from Revelation 2:18-29,  “To the angel of the church in Thyatira write: These are the words of the Son of God, whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze. 19 I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first. 
20 Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols. 21 I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling. 22 So I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways. 23 I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds.
24 Now I say to the rest of you in Thyatira, to you who do not hold to her teaching and have not learned Satan’s so-called deep secrets, ‘I will not impose any other burden on you, 25 except to hold on to what you have until I come.’
26 To the one who is victorious and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations— 27 that one ‘will rule them with an iron scepter and will dash them to pieces like pottery’—just as I have received authority from my Father. 28 I will also give that one the morning star. 29 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches."

We found in the ancient ruins the makings of an ancient church building, or basilica. There was not as much to wonder through in Thyatira, but we found some interesting things:

We did find some smashed pottery which reminded us of Jesus' statement in verse 26, "To the one who is victorious and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations— 27 that one ‘will rule them with an iron scepter and will dash them to pieces like pottery’—just as I have received authority from my Father."

 What we did find fascinating was that there were turtles!  Actually tortoises (turtles live in and near water, tortoises live on arid ground), which became a staple at almost all of the sights!  They were of various sizes as you can see...they made us smile when we saw them!

 Ismail found a plum tree, and shook it until they fell, Jeff took advantage of the opportunity!

More turtles...

We explored the town afterward a little...

We left Thyatira and traveled to Sart, the modern city where the ancient city of Sardis is located.  We checked in at the hotel we were going to stay in for the night, a beautiful hotel called The Lydia Sardes Hotel, pretty nice, eh?!
Now, if you read Acts 16, you find Paul met a woman named Lydia from Thyatira, a dealer in purple cloth, while Paul was in the Greek town of Philippi.  Here is the passage..."From there we traveled to Philippi, a Roman colony and the leading city of that district of Macedonia. And we stayed there several days.  13 On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there. 14 One of those listening was a woman from the city of Thyatira named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth. She was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message. 15 When she and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home. “If you consider me a believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my house.” And she persuaded us."

So I came to find out that Lydia was actually the region around Thyatira and Sardis and was the kingdom of the area in the hundreds of years BC, and then became the Roman Province of Lydia during the Roman times.  So the "Lydia" Paul met may have not been her first name, but she was a Lydian and so was called Lydia...

Sardis was the capitol of Lydia and was a city of note through much of it's history long before Christ.  As you can see, the city of Sardis is perched high on hill, so was protected from enemy advance.
This is what Jesus said to Sardis in Revelation 3:1-6, “To the angel of the church in Sardis write:
These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of my God. Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; hold it fast, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.
Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. The one who is victorious will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out the name of that person from the book of life, but will acknowledge that name before my Father and his angels. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches."

So here is the story of how Sardis fell...(from
Sardis was built on the edge of a mountain with three sides guarded by near vertical walls that dropped 1500 feet into the valley below with the Pactolus river running along its one open access in the front. With all this natural protection, Sardis was over-confident and none too vigilant a city. Guards and watchmen were rarely posted on the three sides where the mountain's slope dropped 1500 feet into the valley below and because of this failure to watch, they were conquered twice. When King Cyrus of Persia first tried to conquer Sardis he failed in a frontal attack, but that same night, after watching a soldier of Sardis climb down a particular crevice to retrieve a lost helmet, a large number of Persian soldiers worked their way up that same crevice and thus entered and conquered the city from its unguarded rear.  Then in about 218 B.C. by Antiochus the Great the city was again captured in a similar way. Sardis fell because of their failure to watch.
May we learn from Sardis to keep watch!

Harvard and Cornell Universities have been funding excavation of Sardis since 1958, so a lot has been unearthed, in fact, there were representatives there as we visited.  There is a large gymnasium that still stands showing the vast and intricate architecture of the time...truly amazing...


 This gym had both hot and cold baths from the natural springs in the area...since it was a gym, we decided to have a little fun...think of the Village People song YMCA!
Look, more turtles!

There is a large synagogue that was unearthed next to the gym, so it was evidence that there was a large Jewish population in this place, which makes sense since this was also a place where Christianity grew.

We found what we believed was the river Pactolus, where in 700 BC, they discovered how to separate gold and silver metals and created what is believed to be the first coins, thus the monetary system that is still in use today was born...

Just around the corner from the Gym was the remains from the Temple of Artemis.  Artemis was a fertility god that was greatly revered in the area, Ephesus was the capitol city for Artemis, but the Sardis temple has much more to show...the temple had to be huge!

Next to the temple, however, is a Christian church...significantly smaller and more humble, yet stands to this day!  It was built probably in the 4th century and was in use for at least 3 hundred years after that...


At the temple, there were some ladies there were rejuvenating the stones, most of the blocks were dirty with age, but these ladies applied some kind of wash chemical that made them white again, it was truly amazing to see how new the blocks became after their work...not a job I would want though!

We left and went back to our hotel, on the way we saw a I had to get a shot of the turkey in Turkey, I'm pretty sure the bird was wondering why I was chasing him!

Here are some shots from the hotel...

 We stayed in Sart for 2 days, and Jeff had to go back to the US, but Ismail was able to take him to Philidelphia before he left, I will explain what happened in my next blog, it's a really cool story!  While in Sart, we visited some dear friends of Ismail and Susanna.  They own a local pharmacy and we enjoyed some time together...

Tomorrow, we head to Philadelphia and then on to Laodicea...I know this one was long, but thanks for tuning in! 


  1. That architecture is AMAZING!
    Hahahahaha a turkey in Turkey -What are the odds?!?!

  2. What a fascinating story. I was wondering why those stones looked so clean. Now I know. :) Bless those ladies who are preserving them. Love that pic of the pool! (Thanks for including the scripture references.)