The primary aim of fieldwork at Sardis has been to clarify the history and urban development of the ancient city, and the culture of the Lydians, through mapping, excavation, and surveys of different kinds.
Sardis lies in the territory of ancient Lydia, at the foot of the Tmolus Mountains and overlooking the Hermus River plain, where evidence has been found of human activity as early as the Palaeolithic period (ca. 50,000 B.C.). Recent excavations have focused on the Archaic era, particularly the 7th and 6th centuries B.C., when Sardis was the capital of the Lydian empire and at the height of its power, and on the Late Roman era, when the city was still flourishing. Archaeological highlights of Archaic date include the royal burial mounds at Bin Tepe, the city wall, and a gold-working installation; important monuments of Hellenistic, Roman, and Byzantine date include the temple of Artemis, a bath-gymnasium complex, a synagogue, and a row of shops adjoining the synagogue. Over 13,000 objects have been inventoried by the Archaeological Exploration of Sardis since the first excavation season in 1958; a selection of the more important finds is on display in the Ethnographical and Archaeological Museum of Manisa.
The drawings in this exhibition (2003) illustrate a variety of aims and approaches over a span of two and a half centuries, and record major monuments and landscapes. The oldest drawings are hand-measured pencil and ink renderings from the Age of Enlightenment. The latest drawings employ electronic and computerized technologies that expand traditional aims of graphic recording.
For more information about the Archaeological Exploration of Sardis, please visit the Harvard University Art Museum at http://www.artmuseums.harvard.edu/sardis/sardis.html.