The Greek historian and father of history, Herodotus, notes that the city was founded by the sons of Hercules, the Heraclides. According to Herodotus, the Heraclides ruled for five hundred and five years beginning with Agron, 1220 BC, and ending with Candaules, 716 BC. They were followed by the Mermnades, which began with Gyges, 716 BC, and ended with Croesus, 546 BC. The earliest reference to Sardis is in The Persians of Aeschylus (472 BC); in the Iliad, the name “Hyde” seems to be given to the city of the Maeonian (i.e. Lydian) chiefs and in later times Hyde was said to be the older name of Sardis, or the name of its citadel.
It is, however, more probable that Sardis was not the original
capital of the Maeonians, but that it became so amid the changes which
produced the powerful Lydian empire of the 8th century BC.
The city was captured by the Cimmerians in the 7th century BC, by the Persians in the 6th, by the Athenians in the 5th, and by Antiochus III the Great at the end of the 3rd century BC.
In the Persian era, Sardis was conquered by Cyrus the Great and formed the end station for the Persian Royal Road which began in Persepolis, capital of Persia. Sardis was the site of the most important Persian satrapy.
During the Ionian Revolt, the Athenians burnt down the city. Sardis remained under Persian domination until it surrendered to Alexander the Great in 334 BC.