Lydians

Dafato Team | Jun 18, 2022

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Summary

The Lydians, or Meonians, were an extinct people who spoke the Lydian language of the Luvian subgroup of the Anatolian group (or branch) of the Indo-European languages. They were called Lydian by the Assyrians and Greeks, and their self-name was "Meon"; another self-name was "Sphardene". In the Hittite annals the country was called Masa, scholars see this as a more ancient form of the name Meonia. According to Xanthus of Lydia, the first king of the Meonians was Atius, who had two sons, Lyd and Torreb. They were divided into Lydians and Torrebs.

In the historical period the Lydians lived in the region of Lydia in western Anatolia. R. Beques believed that during the Trojan War the Lydians, known to Homer as Meonians, lived much further north, in northwest Anatolia, in the region of Masa, the localization of which is still a matter of debate.

In a broader sense, the term "Lydians" included the entire population of Lydia in the ancient period, including the autochthonous pre-Hittite peoples. Thus, the ancient Greek authors include in the Lydians the Etruscans, whose origin from Asia Minor seems quite probable according to modern data, but whose language has nothing in common with Lydian. In any case, the Lydians, descendants of one of the post-Hittite states, were the dominant people in Lydia until the conquest of Lydia by the Persians.

The growth of Lydian power began with the crushing of the Phrygian kingdom in the 7th century B.C. Under the Mermnadian dynasty, which began in 680 B.C. with the reign of Giza, Lydians spread their dominance from the eastern coast of Ionia to the Galis River. The capital of the Lydians was the city of Sardis. In 630 BC the Lydians were attacked by the Cimmerians, who managed to capture Sardis around 652 BC. Gygus died during a defensive campaign.

In the early sixth century B.C., during the reign of King Alyattes, the Lydian kingdom reaches a climax in its development. The war against the Medes was terminated because of the solar eclipse of May 28, 585 BC. The eclipse was predicted by Thales of Miletus, and it occurred exactly at the predicted time. After this war, the river Galis became the border between the Lydians and the Midians. To the west, Aliattes conquered areas all the way to Lycia. By this point Lydia was comparable in power to Midian, Babylon, and Egypt.

In 547 BC, the successor of Alyattes, King Croesus, crossed the Halys and attacked the Persians, who had by that time conquered Midia. According to Herodotus, who devoted much space to the Lydians in his History, the Delphic oracle promised Croesus that he would crush the great kingdom. As it turned out, Croesus misunderstood the prophecy-the war resulted in the crushing of Lydia itself. In 546 BC, the Persians captured Lydia and turned it into their satrapy.

The ancient sources attribute the minting of the first coins to the Lydians. The first coins found in Lydia date back to the 7th century B.C. Herodotus called the Lydian Pythias the richest man of his time after the Persian king Xerxes I.

Sources

  1. Lydians
  2. Лидийцы