An important country in the western part of Asia Minor bounded on the North by Mysia, on the East by Phrygia, on the South by Caria, and on the West by the Aegean Sea. Its surface is rugged, but along the valleys between its mountain ranges ran some of the most important highways from the coast cities to the distant interior. Of its many rivers the chief are the Cayster, the Lower Hermus, the Cogamos, the Caicus and, during a part of its course, the Meander.
Lydia was an exceedingly ancient and powerful kingdom whose history is composed chiefly of that of its individual cities. In 546 BC it fell into the hands of the Persians, and in 334 BC it became a part of Alexander's empire. After the death of Alexander its possession was claimed by the kings both of Pergamos and of Seleucia, but in 190 BC it became the undisputed possession of the former (1 Macc 8:8). With the death of Attalus III, 133 BC, it was transferred by the will of that king to Rome, and Lydia, which then became but a name, formed, along with Caria, Mysia and Phrygia, a part of the Roman province of Asia (see ASIA). Chief among its cities were Smyrna and Ephesus, two of the most important in Asia Minor, and Smyrna is still the largest and wealthiest city of that part of Turkey. At Ephesus, the seat of the goddess Diana, Paul remained longer than elsewhere in Asia, and there his most important missionary work was done (Acts 19). Hence, Lydia figures prominently in the early history of the church; it became Christianized during the residence of the apostle at Ephesus, or soon afterward (see also LUD).
E. J. Banks
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