The extreme wealth of Croesus was reputed to derive from the gold deposits of the River Pactolus, where according to legend, the accursed Midas had tried to wash away his ‘golden touch’. But Croesus’s overlordship of Lydia, and tribute from the wealthy Ionian cities of the coast of Asia Minor, also contributed to his prosperity. He built the Temple at Ephesus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and made ostentatious donations to the Delphic Oracle. Always on the lookout for further revenue streams, he decided to exploit the overthrow of neighbouring Medes by Cyrus of Persia by invading Anatolia. However, Cyrus was alerted and intercepted him at the River Halys. Not overly concerned, Croesus retired to his capital Sardis, the customary campaigning season being over. To his astonishment, Cyrus tracked him, fell upon the Lydians outside Sardis and destroyed them, killing Croesus. Soon afterwards, the Persians converted their coinage to gold.
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