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Gyges was defeated, Sardes was sacked, and the Greek cities in the west suffered.

Lydia (name)

However, Gyges' kingdom was strong enough to survive the violent death of its founder. His son Ardys succeeded him and buried his father on the plain of Sardes at the Lydian royal cemetery at Bin Tepe. At first, Ardys continued his father's policy. He continued the struggle against the Greeks in the west, and captured Priene. However, he understood that he could not take Miletus, the largest city on the Aegean coast, because the Lydians had no navy.

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Therefore, he signed a peace treaty with the Milesians and allowed them to build colonies in the Troad. Abydus , where one can easily cross from Asia to Europe, is probably the most important of these Greek settlements.

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Several numismatists think that Ardys was the first to mint coins. Although not everyone agrees on the date, it seems reasonably clear that the first coins were used to pay soldiers. Almost every coin shows a lion, probably the heraldic symbol of the Mermnads.

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  5. The reign of his son and successor Alyattes is much better known. In the west, he fought an inconclusive war against Miletus but was able to capture Smyrna and concluded a treaty with Ephesus. He also advanced to the east, where he took Gordium, decisively defeated the Cimmerians, and reached the river Halys.

    Here, his army, which included the Greek scientist Thales of Miletus , met the armed forces of another empire on the rise, Media. Their empire had been taken over by the Babylonians , and the Medes continued their raids to the east, south and northwest. So, in , the Median leader Cyaxares entered Armenia and invaded the country known as Cappadocia. On 28 May, he fought a battle against Alyattes of Lydia, but before a decision was reached, the sun eclipsed and the two kings decided to sign a peace treaty.

    The ties were strengthened even more when the Median crown prince Astyages married a Lydian princess. The Halys was to be the border. Herodotus describes the size of Alyattes' empire:. Alyattes bequeathed this empire to his son Croesus , whose reign started after a civil war against his half-brother Pantaleon. Croesus finished the Greek war of his ancestors, capturing every town in Aeolia and Ionia, except for Miletus, but including Ephesus, where he rebuilt the famous sanctuary of Artemis - or Artimus, as the Lydians said. Croesus' court was famous for its luxury and splendor, and received many visitors: However, the rich city of Sardes became a natural target for the armies of Cyrus , the king of Persia.

    He had overthrown his overlord, the Median king Astyages, and was rapidly expanding his territories. Croesus decided to strike first; after all, Astyages had been his brother-in-law, and if it were not possible to restore him to the Median throne, Croesus might, for example, conquer Cappadocia and Armenia. He allied himself to the pharaoh of Egypt, Amasis , and to the Spartans of Greece. Perhaps, king Nabonidus of Babylonia belonged to the same alliance.

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