Sardis Biennial Lecture

Nicholas Cahill, field director of the Sardis expedition, lectures at the site in western Turkey. Courtesy of Harvard Art Museums

Professor Nicholas Cahill, Director, Archaeological Exploration of Sardis (

6:30 pm – welcome
7:00 pm – lecture & discussion in Drawing Room
8:00 pm – cocktail reception in the Exhibition Room
Please might you kindly respond with an idea of whether you can attend by Friday 14th October; we will include your name on the list of attendees at the venue entrance. There is no charge for this event

We are greatly honoured and pleased to be able to welcome Professor Cahill to London for the Biennial Lecture. This year we are delighted to have the opportunity to hold the lecture for the second time at a venue so central to the history of gold and its measurement, particularly fitting for a talk on the capital of King Croesus.


Located about 70km inland from Izmir and spanning from the 3rd millennium BC to late Byzantium, Sardis is one of the longest continuously settled urban environments in the Ancient, Classical, and Mediaeval worlds.

It was populated by successive arrivals from the Bronze Age onwards, through diverse peoples including Lydian, Greek, Persian, Roman, and Byzantine. Each proceeded in their settlements as seemed practical – occupying, rebuilding, and repositioning/replacing their own dwellings and monuments alongside or on top of their predecessors’, often recycling building materials. Perhaps most famously, it was the capital of the Lydian Empire, the seat of King Croesus, and the place where coinage was first invented and used.

This rich backdrop makes Sardis a dream location for the archaeologist-detective interested in dissecting the inflections and continuities of its multiple overlain civilizations.

A key theme almost since the launch of the Sardis Expedition in 1958 has been the late-Roman Synagogue: its un-earthing, preservation, and physical structure, as well as the clues it provides about community and society – even about periods long prior to its construction. It is the largest classical Synagogue discovered to date, and is also home to one of the most substantial collection of mosaics in the Roman world.

This Lecture will recap some of the recent exciting finds at Sardis, with a special emphasis on the Synagogue’s modern rebirth, from its un-earthing and initial restoration 1962-1974, to a second restoration starting 2008 – capped by a protective roof completed in December 2021.

Excavations at Sardis have been carried out by Harvard and Cornell Universities since 1958. The Excavation is directed by Professor Cahill, of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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Date & Time

Monday, 31 October 2022


Goldsmiths Hall
Foster Lane
London EC2V 6BN