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Alyattes II

Alyattes II, king of Lydia (609-560 BC), the real founder of the Lydian empire[?], was the son of Sadyattes, of the house of the Mermnadae[?].

For several years he continued the war against Miletus begun by his father, but was obliged to turn his attention to the Medes and Babylonians. On May 28, 585 BC, during a battle on the Halys[?] against Cyaxares[?], king of Media, a solar eclipse took place (see also Thales); hostilities were suspended, peace concluded, and the Halys fixed as the boundary between the two kingdoms.

Alyattes drove the Cimmerii (see Scythia) from Asia, subdued the Carians[?], and took several Ionian cities (Smyrna, Colophon). (Smyrna was sacked and destroyed c.600 BCE, the inhabitants forced to move to the country.)

He standardised the weight of coins (1 Stater = 168 grains of wheat). The coins were produced using an anvil die technique and stamped with the Lion's head, the symbol of the Mermnadae.

He was succeeded by his son Croesus.

His tomb still exists on the plateau between Lake Gygaea and the river Hermus to the north of Sardis -- a large mound of earth with a substructure of huge stones. It was excavated by Spiegelthal[?] in 1854, who found that it covered a large vault of finely-cut marble blocks approached by a flat-roofed passage of the same stone from the south. The sarcophagus and its contents had been removed by early plunderers of the tomb, all that was left being some broken alabaster vases, pottery and charcoal. On the summit of the mound were large phalli of stone.


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