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For a number of centuries the site of the ancient Thyatira was unknown. Much discussion has arisen concerning the matter, but now it is almost universally agreed that the modern Ak-Hissar, “the white castle,” is the place.
If we look for ruins we are disappointed, for there are hardly any worth mentioning; in fact the city is the least interesting of all the seven, for here we see no ancient temples, no amphitheaters or crumbling palaces.
It is true that on the edge of the city a few fragments of pillars and friezes are scattered, but this is all there is to indicate the existence of the ancient Thyatira.
How can this be accounted for? Partly in the fact that the city is in a prosperous commercial center to-day, and as fast as commerce increases, relics disappear. That this has had something to do with it, there is no doubt.
Thyatira is situated in the north of Lydia, on the banks of the river Lycus. Near by is a solitary and desolate plain, the plain of Antiocus. Here was present in battle Antiochus the Great. Here also stood two commanders who had decided the fate of Rome and Carthage on the field of Zama, Scipio and Hannibal.
In this city there are nine mosques and one Greek church. No Christian church exists there to-day. There are also a few Greek and Armenian priests in Thyatira, which is under the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Bishop of Ephesus. About two or three hundred Armenians reside in Thyatira.
Probably it was the commerce in purple dye that brought the city in contact with Christianity, for when St. Paul was in Philippi, he says: “On the Sabbath day we went out by a river side where prayer was wont to be made and we sat down and spoke unto the women which resorted thither; a prophetess to seduce my servants to commit fornication and to eat things sacrificed unto idols."
The remains of the Apocalyptic Church cannot be identified. Some affirm that it stood near the Turkish cemetery, and that its ruins are among those of other edifices that form a mound close by. Others with as much confidence assert that its remains are to be found in the town, not far from the little Armenian church, where several broken columns lie. Perhaps neither site is the correct one.
Doubtless the religious impurities here mentioned in time destroyed all Christianity of a true nature, and to-day Thyatira has not one place where Christian worship is conducted.
THE EPISTLE TO THE CHURCH OF SARDIS.
REV. III., 1-6.
And unto the angel of the Church in Sardis write: These things saith he that have the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.
Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die; for I have not found thy works perfect before God.
Remember, therefore, how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.
Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy.
He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.
He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
Half way between Smyrna and Philadelphia, under the snow-capped Tmolus range, in the valley of Hermus river, the ruins of ancient Sardis lie.
If we climb to the summit of a rocky hill in the southern end of the town in the early morning, a little after sunrise, we will obtain an excellent view of the country about and the town beneath our feet.
We are standing on what was formerly the Acropolis. All around us are piles of stone that once composed a strong line of fortifications. Looking southward we see the snowcrowned peaks of the mountains.
Across the plain the river Hermus gradually widens as it seeks to lose itself in the sea. Beyond, glistening in the sunlight is Lake Gyges, so named after the traditional founder of the city, who is supposed to have lived about 718 B. C. Near the lake are seventy or eighty mounds, the graves of ancient kings, the Necropolis of Sardis.
In the centre of these mounds is one, higher than the others, built in honor of Alyates, a famous military king, who conquered all Asia Minor and placed it under his rule. From a cleft in the mountain side, the classic stream Pactolus gushes forth and winds partially around the hill upon which we stand. It was on the bank of this stream that Sophocles pictures the Goddess Cybele, and on its bank are the ruins of a magnificent temple erected in her
name. This was the finest piece of architecture in Sardis. There are only two columns remaining to-day, and critics pronounce them the finest Ionic columns in existence. It is to be deplored that the temple of Sardis is not in a better state of preservation, that we might conceive something of