Warfare > Siege of Sardis (547 BC)

Siege of Sardis (547 BC)


In the Siege of Sardis (547/546 BC), the last decisive conflict after the Battle of Thymbra, which was fought between the forces of Croesus of Lydia and Cyrus the Great, Cyrus followed Croesus to his city. He laid siege to it for 14 days, and then captured it. The siege was to be known as the final event before Lydia was officially annexed by the Achaemenid Empire. The Ionians and other Asiatic Greeks revolted against Cyrus, and the revolt was finally put down by his best commander Harpagus the Mede in 542 BC.

The Siege of Sardis refers to a significant military event during the Ionian Revolt, which occurred around 498-497 BCE. The Ionian Revolt was a rebellion of Greek city-states in Asia Minor against Persian rule. Sardis was the capital of Lydia and an important Persian stronghold in the region. The Ionian Revolt was sparked by dissatisfaction among the Greek city-states of Ionia (located on the western coast of modern-day Turkey) with Persian rule, particularly the heavy taxation and autocratic governance imposed by the Persian satraps (governors). The Greek city-states of Miletus, Ephesus, and others revolted against Persian rule and sought to gain their independence.

Key Players:

Persians: Led by the satrap of Lydia, Artaphernes, and his military forces, the Persians sought to suppress the Ionian Revolt and maintain control over their territories in Asia Minor.

Ionian Greeks: The Greek city-states of Ionia, led by Miletus and other prominent cities, rebelled against Persian rule and sought to establish their independence.

Course of the Siege:

The Siege of Sardis began when the Ionian Greeks, under the leadership of Aristagoras of Miletus, launched an attack on the city of Sardis, the administrative capital of Lydia and a key Persian stronghold.

Aristagoras, seeking to gain support for the revolt, enlisted the aid of Athens and Eretria, two powerful Greek city-states. The Greeks managed to capture and burn down much of the lower city of Sardis, including the marketplace, before being driven back by a Persian counterattack. As the Greek forces retreated, they inadvertently started a fire that spread to the nearby temple of Cybele, causing significant damage to the city. The siege ultimately failed to achieve its objectives of capturing Sardis or expelling the Persians from Ionia.


While the Siege of Sardis was initially a setback for the Persians, they quickly regrouped and launched a counteroffensive against the Ionian rebels. The Persian forces, reinforced by troops from other parts of the empire, recaptured the rebel-held cities of Miletus and others, effectively crushing the Ionian Revolt. The failure of the Ionian Revolt had significant consequences for the Greek city-states, leading to increased Persian control over the region and setting the stage for the Persian Wars between Greece and Persia.


The Siege of Sardis highlighted the challenges faced by the Ionian Greeks in their struggle against the mighty Persian Empire. While the siege itself was not ultimately successful, it demonstrated the determination of the Ionian Greeks to resist Persian rule and fight for their independence. The events of the Ionian Revolt and the Siege of Sardis played a crucial role in shaping the course of Greek-Persian relations and set the stage for future conflicts between the two civilizations, notably the Persian Wars. In summary, the Siege of Sardis was a significant event during the Ionian Revolt, showcasing the struggles of the Ionian Greeks against Persian rule and the eventual suppression of the rebellion by Persian forces.

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