Two areas of the modern excavation of Sardis, Turkey, have uncovered remains of a neighborhood of the city that can be shown to have been devastated by an earthquake in 17 AD, and earthquake that was severe enough that Tiberius sent massive relief funds to rebuild the city. Field 55, as it is called by the modern excavators, is a huge artificial terrace built against the side of a hill, southeast of the later Synagogue and habitation section MMS. The pottery is currently being studied by E. DeRidder Raubolt (Missouri); I have made a study of the coins found in the fill. The pottery dates the fill to the Early Imperial period, and likely before the end of the Julio-Claudian period. The area was thus part of a reconstruction project paid for by the imperial purse, with fill from the destroyed city used to pack the terrace walls. The coins in the fill will help elucidate the body of bronzes available to be lost by their owners, from the Hellenistic bronzes minted in Sardis still very much in circulation to one Augustan coin. The last is a warning to archaeologists to use the coin evidence from their strata carefully, as only a terminus post quem, for the pottery clearly brings the date of the layer through the Late Augustan period. Similarly, in the adjoining Field 49, pottery of the Imperial Period is rarely matched by imperial-age coins, while the strata do have many examples of Hellenistic coins. But if we had not known the specific date of the earthquake, the coins would only have allowed us to note that it occurred after the Augustan period.
The Wadi B Temple (Ratté, Howe and Foss AJA 1986; with continuing excavations in 2005, see Greenwalt in Kazi Sonuçlari Toplantisi 2. Cilt 2006) was built at the same time as the terrace was put into place; the terrace may have served as its temenos. The temple – which is an extremely large temple – was suggested by its excavator to have been destroyed in the Antonine period, due to the coins found in the fill, which the excavator suggested were in a layer of destruction debris that covered the stylobate. The pottery in this fill was entirely undiagnostic. Most of the fill on top of this temple dates to the Late Roman period, a date that is confirmed by the style of the architectural fragments, pottery and coins found in the layer. However, the destruction debris contains an unusual number of Antonine coins. Several of them are coins of the young Marcus Aurelius, minted in Sardis. Three of the Antonine coins are recorded as having been stacked beside the stylobate. All of these coins have representations of a Roman temple or goddess on them and one is a large bronze from the mint of the Commune of Bithynia (Nikomedia?). The excavators propose a date of destruction and abandonment of the temple in the Antonine period; Burrell (Neokoroi, 2004) suggested that the neokorate temple of Sardis is recorded as dating to the Antonine period was housed in the refurbished Temple of Artemis. I will explore the possible votive nature of this deposit, and suggest that the temple may have continued in use through the Late Roman period.