Laodicea on the Lycus, Turkey

Laodicea on the Lycus (Greek: Λαοδίκεια πρὸς τοῦ Λύκου; Latin: Laodicea ad Lycum, also transliterated as Laodiceia or Laodikeia) (modern Turkish: Laodikeia) was an ancient city built on the river Lycus (Çürüksu). It was located in the Hellenistic regions of Caria and Lydia, which later became the Roman Province of Phrygia Pacatiana. It is now situated near the modern city of Denizli.

Laodicea is an ancient city in present-day western Turkey, founded by Seleucid King Antiochus II in honor of his wife, Laodice.

The city was an early center of Christianity and one of the Seven Churches of Revelation. In the 4th century, Apollinaris of Laodicea proposed the theory later called Apollinarianism, which was considered heretical by the Catholic Church.

A large earthquake destroyed Laodicea and it has never been rebuilt.

Remnants of the ancient city include a stadium, sarcophagi, an amphitheatre, an odeon, a cistern and an aqueduct. Most of the city remains to be excavated.

Most visitors use nearby Denizli (population 200,000) as a base for exploring Laodicea.
Laodicea is situated on the long spur of a hill between the narrow valleys of the small rivers Asopus and Caprus, which discharge their waters into the Lycus. The town was originally called Diospolis, "City of Zeus", and afterwards Rhodas, and Laodicea, the building of which is ascribed to Antiochus II Theos, in 261-253 BC, in honor of his wife Laodice, was probably founded on the site of the older town. It was approximately 17 kilometres (11 mi) west of Colossae, and 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) south of Hierapolis. It was approximately 160 kilometres (99 mi) east of Ephesus and, according to Strabo, it was on a major road. It was in Phrygia, although some ancient authors place Laodicea in differing provincial territories – not surprising because the precise limits of these territories were both ill-defined and inconstant; for example, Ptolemy and Philostratus call it a town of Caria, while Stephanus of Byzantium describes it as belonging to Lydia.

At first, Laodicea was not a place of much importance, but it soon acquired a high degree of prosperity. In 220 BC, Achaeus was its king. In 188 BC, the city passed to the Kingdom of Pergamon, and after 133 BC it fell under Roman control. It suffered greatly during the Mithridatic Wars but quickly recovered under the dominion of Rome. Towards the end of the Roman Republic and under the first emperors, Laodicea, benefiting from its advantageous position on a trade route, became one of the most important and flourishing commercial cities of Asia Minor, in which large money transactions and an extensive trade in black wool were carried on.

The area often suffered from earthquakes, especially from the great shock that occurred in the reign of Nero (60 AD) in which the town was completely destroyed. But the inhabitants declined imperial assistance to rebuild the city and restored it from their own means. The wealth of its inhabitants created among them a taste for the arts of the Greeks, as is manifest from its ruins, and that it contributed to the advancement of science and literature is attested by the names of the sceptics Antiochus and Theiodas, the successors of Aenesidemus and by the existence of a great medical school. Its wealthy citizens embellished Laodicea with beautiful monuments. One of the chief of these citizens, Polemon, became King of Armenian Pontus (called after him "Polemoniacus") and of the coast round Trebizond. The city minted its own coins, the inscriptions of which show evidence of the worship of Zeus, Æsculapius, Apollo, and the emperors.

It received from Rome the title of free city. During the Roman period, Laodicea was the chief city of a Roman conventus, which comprised twenty-four cities besides itself; Cicero records holding assizes there ca. 50 BC.

Antiochus the Great transported 2,000 Jewish families to Phrygia from Babylonia. Many of Laodicea's inhabitants were Jews, and Cicero records that Flaccus confiscated the considerable sum of 9 kilograms (20 lb) of gold which was being sent annually to Jerusalem for the Temple (Pro Flacco 28-68).

The Byzantine writers often mention Laodicea, especially in the time of the Comneni. In 1119, Emperor John the Beautiful and his lead military aid John Axuch captured Laodicea from the Seljuk Turks in the first major military victory of his reign.

It was fortified by the emperor Manuel I Comnenus. In 1206–1230, it was ruled by Manuel Maurozomes. The city was destroyed during the invasions of the Turks and Mongols.

Christianity began to spread into the area beginning in the second half of first century CE. The city's active trade life, no doubt played a role in the spread of the Christian gospel to the Lycos valley. Laodikeia is one of the Seven Churches mentioned in the Book of Revelation (1.11, 3.14-22) as well as in Paul's letter to the Colossians (4.16). The city gained prominence as a Christian center and as a place of religious pilgrimage in the Early Byzantine Period. The Council of Laodikeia met here in 364 CE. The legalization of Christianity allowed the construction of one of Anatolia's most unique churches in the early fourth century CE. Extant churches among the ruins date from the 4th-7th centuries CE. The Laodikeia Church was discovered in 2010 and excavations and restorations of this large basilican structure have been almost completed in the past two years. Laodikeia thus remains a very important site for the Christian world.

The existing remains attest to its former greatness. The ruins near Denizli (Denisli) are well preserved and as of 2012 are being substantially renovated. Its many buildings include a stadium, baths, temples, a gymnasium, theatres, and a bouleuterion (Senate House). On the eastern side, the line of the ancient wall may be distinctly traced, with the remains of the Ephesus gate; there are streets traversing the town, flanked by colonnades and numerous pedestals. North of the town, towards the Lycus, are many sarcophagi, with their covers lying near them, partly imbedded in the ground, and all having been long since rifled.

Encompassing an area of about five square kilometres, Laodikeia boasts the following impressive remains: the largest ancient stadium of Anatolia (measuring 285 x 70m), two theatres (Western and Northern Theatres), four bath complexes (East, Central, West and East Roman baths), five agoras (East, Central, West, South and North Agoras), five fountains (nymphaea; East Byzantine, Caracalla, Septimus Severus, B and West Fountains), two monumental portals (Ephesus and Syria Gates), a council house (bouleuterion), houses with a peristyle design (House A Complexes, Peristyle House with Church), temples (Temple A), churches (East, North, West, Central, Southwest Churches and Laodikeia Church), public latrines, two large water distribution terminals and monumental colonnaded streets (Syria, Ephesus, Stadium Streets). The city is surrounded by cemeteries (necropoleis) on its four sides.

Ancient Greek Theater
It is situated on the north-east side of the ancient city which was built in 3rd C BC as the Greek theater  and it was expanded during the reign of Nero so the capasity reached up 20.000 seats as the second biggest amphi-theatre after Ephesus. Nero also  was the emperor whom he sent Roman money to enlarge Roman theatres and arenas in Asia. The skene, where the tragedies were performed- is completely destroyed but  the cavea-the spectators’ seats with rows and orchestra- the musical shows and speeches were held- are in good condition today. The grand theatre used to be house for many  important events, celebrations and festivals. It is about 2000 years old , excavations and restorations on the theatre are still going on.

7 th Church of the Revelation
In the book of Revelation, Jesus says ,  “I know what you did.  you're  neither cold, nor hot. I wish you were either cold or hot!  Yet no matter how you  are , you're  luke-warm  so I'm going to vomit out of my mouth" (Revelation 3: 15-16). “  Jesus warns the Laodiceans as to be unstable and unfaitfull to the church because the water in Laodicea is luke-warm, neither hot or cold. In Hierapolis the water is hot and in Colossea the water is cold, in between Ladicea has a shortage of fresh water. In the time of John, the fresh water was brought from Colossea to Laodicea by terra-cotta pipes and collected in a big water reservoir and was delivered to the city by amazing pipe systems which are visible today. The  cold  water from Colossea was turning into the lukewarm  on the way down to Laodicea and the people living here was like the lukewarm water, unstable and untrustable. The city was a banking centre and called as “ Rich “ but Jesus says, “ You are not rich, you’re poor. Wake up and be faithfull otherwise you will be punished “.

The Small Theater
It is located about  300 meters northwest of the grand theatre and was built as the alternative  to the big one according to the type of land and was expanded later with 15.000 seats. Having two theatres shows us that Laodicea was a really fond of watching shows, listening to concerts, celebrating the festivals, floowing the politicians and so on. As the historical sources indicated  and Jesus pointed out the city was really “ Rich “. The skene is completely destroyed, the deterioration on the cavea and orchestra are  visible today.

West Baths

Particularly interesting are the remains of an aqueduct starting several kilometres away at the Baspinar spring in Denizli, and possibly having another more distant source. Unusually, to cross the valley to the south of Laodicea, instead of the usual open channel carried above the level of the city on lofty arches as was the usual practice of the Romans, an inverted siphon was employed consisting of a double pressurised pipeline, descending into the valley and back up to the city. The low arches supporting the siphon commence near the summit of a low hill to the south where the header tank was located, and thence continue to the first terminal distribution tank (castellum aquae) at the edge of the hill of the city, whose remains are visible to the east of the stadium and South Baths complex. The water was heavily charged with calcareous matter, as several of the arches are covered with a thick incrustation where leaks occurred at later times. The siphon consisted of large carved stone pipes; some of these also are much incrusted, and some completely choked up. The terminal tank has many clay pipes of various diameters for water distribution on the north, east and south sides which, because of the choking by sinter, were replaced in time. To the west of the terminal is a small fountain next to the vaulted gate. The aqueduct appears to have been destroyed by an earthquake, as the remaining arches lean bodily on one side, without being much broken. A second distribution terminal and sedimentation tank is visible 400 metres (1,300 ft) north of the first, to which it was connected via another siphon of travertine blocks, and this one is bigger and supplied most of the city.

Thes Stadium and the Gymnasium
It is located in the South-west of the city and  lies in the east-west axis. It was constructed  as  a whole with additional buildings of Gymnasium.  The stadium was completed in 79  AD  with length of  350 meters,  60 meters in wide and has 24 rows of seats. Archeologists found a written inscription saying that the gymnasium was built in 2nd C AD by proconsul Antonius Gargilius and his wife Sabina and was dedicated to Emperor Hadrian. 
The stadium, which is in a good state of preservation, is near the southern extremity of the city. The seats are arranged along two sides of a narrow valley, which appears to have been taken advantage of for this purpose, and to have been closed up at both ends.
Colonnaded street in Laodicea

Towards the west are considerable remains of a subterranean passage, by which chariots and horses were admitted into the arena, with a long inscription over the entrance. The city ruins bear the stamp of Roman extravagance and luxury, rather than of the stern and massive solidity of the Greeks. Strabo attributes the celebrity of the place to the fertility of the soil and the wealth of some of its inhabitants: amongst whom Hiero, having adorned the city with many beautiful buildings, bequeathed to it more than 2000 talents at his death.
Temple "A"

Zeus Temple
It is tought that it was built in 3rd C AD  when Laodicea was  founded and dedicated to chief diety of Olympians, the king of Gods. It is located between the colonnaded Street and the small theater, in the eastern part of the Nymphaeum-monumental fountain of Laodicea. In Roman era it was called as temple of Jupiter.

Cross Church - Church of Laodicea
It is believed that there was no permanent church buildings in Asia Minor till the end of 400 AD in Asia Minor so the church of Laodicea was built in 5th C AD during the Byzantine period. All the churches  were built on a cross plan as the oblob-building known as “ Basilica “ so there were called as “ Cross Churches “ as it is in Laodicea today. You can find churches in  cross shapes all over the seven churches of Revelation cities.

The Bouleutirion -Senate House
It is  located in the southwest of the city in rectangular shape  and was  extended to the  east-west direction later. The main entrance is in the eastern front where the distinguished Laodiceans as politicians, rich merchants, pagan priests and brookers entered the structure and were seated in lower section in order to listen to the talks or  to watch the events.

Sources /Photos / Bibliography
St. Paul, Ep. ad Coloss. ii. 1, iv. 15, foll.; Apocal. iii. 14, foll.
Pliny. v. 29.
Antonine Itinerary p. 337; Tabula Peutingeriana; Strabo xiii. p. 629.
Lives of the Sophists i. 25
Appian, Bell. Mithr. 20; Strabo xii. p. 578.
Cicero Epistulae ad Familiares ii. 1. 7, iii. 5; Strab. xii.8.16; comp. Vitruvius viii. 3.
Tacitus, Annals. xiv. 27.
Diogenes Laertius ix. 11. § 106, 12. § 116.
Strabo xii. p. 580.
Cicero ad Fam. iii. 7, ix. 25, xiii. 54, 67, xv. 4, ad Att. v. 15, 16, 20, 21, vi. 1, 2, 3, 7, In Verrem i. 30.
Josephus, Ant. Jud., xii.3.4.
Nicet. Chon. Ann. pp. 9, 81.
Josephus Ant. Jud. xiv. 10, 20; Hierocl. p. 665.
Colossians 2:1 4:12-13 4:15 4:16
Sophrone Pétridès, "Laodicea" in Catholic Encyclopedia (New York 1910)
Annuario Pontificio 2013 (Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2013, ISBN 978-88-209-9070-1), p. 913
In Coloss., ii, 18, Patrologia Latina, LXXXII, 619.
Comp. Fellows, Journal written in Asia Minor, p. 280, foll.; William Martin Leake, Asia Minor, p. 251, foll.

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