Skip to main content Accessibility help

Redating Croesus: Herodotean Chronologies, and the Dates of the Earliest Coinages

  • Robert W. Wallace (a1)

The dates of Croesus’ reign, traditionally 560–546, derive mainly from the Nabonidus Chronicle, for Cyrus’ conquest of Lydia, and Herodotus 1.86.1, that Croesus ruled Lydia for 14 years. Part I of this essay questions the reliability of 1.86.1's ‘14’. Herodotus often uses formulaic or traditional numbers, including seven, for dating and elsewhere. Seven, twice seven, 14 and 70 recur frequently in the Croesus logos. Croesus’ reign may be a formulaic twice seven: seven prosperous years before Solon's visit, followed by seven disastrous years. It therefore may be unhistorical. Part II adduces other passages in Herodotus, and other evidence, that Croesus ruled Lydia already in the 580s. Nothing dates Alyattes after 585. Part III considers possible consequences of redating Croesus for the dates of early electrum and bimetallic coinages, the latter beginning perhaps in the 570s, as does Croesus’ Artemision at Ephesos. Part IV doubts what happened to Croesus when Sardis fell. Herodotus adapted one version for his own purposes. He probably invented Croesus’ role as wise warner to Cyrus and Cambyses.

Hide All

* . Many thanks to Nick Cahill, Steven Cole, Carolyn Dewald, Michael Kerschner, Koray Konuk, Jack Kroll, Andrew Ramage, Chris Ratté, Peter Rhodes, Pietro Vannicelli, two excellent JHS referees and JHS editor Roger Brock for comments on this text. An early version of this material was presented at the ‘White Gold’ conference in Jerusalem, June 2012. Unattributed translations are my own.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

The Journal of Hellenic Studies
  • ISSN: 0075-4269
  • EISSN: 2041-4099
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-hellenic-studies
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed