Laodicea on the Lycus

Laodicea on the Lycus (also Laodikeia – Latin: Laodicea ad Lycum) is an ancient city in present-day western Turkey, near the modern city of Denizli. The city was founded in the 3rd century BC on the river Lycus by the Seleucid King Antiochus II in honor of his wife, Laodice. The city became one of the most important and flourishing commercial cities of Asia Minor on the trade route from the East, famous for its woolen and cotton cloths. Laodicea was 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).

Coordinates: 37° 50′ 9″ N, 29° 6′ 27″ E

laodicea

Laodicea was built on a high plateau overlooking the Lycus River Valley and covered more than five square kilometres. Excavations have shown that the city was settled continuously from the Chalcolithic Period (5500 BC) to the 7th century AD. The name of the settlement was in turn Rhoas (Asopos Hill), Diopolis (City of Zeus) and finally Laodicea (Laodikeia). In 188 BC the city became part of the Kingdom of Pergamon and later passed into Roman hands in 133 BC when the last King of Pergamon, Atalus III, left the whole of his empire to Rome. Cicero, the famous Roman orator and statesman, served as governor of the province, residing mostly in Laodicea. In 60 BC during the reign of Nero the city was leveled by a powerful earthquake but was completely rebuilt later. The city lived its hey-days again at the beginning of 2nd century AD and in the 3rd century AD, during the reigns of Roman emperors Hadrian and Caracalla.

Laodicea became an important commercial center thanks to its location on the crossroads of major trade routes: north-south between Sardis and Perga and east-west from the Euphrates to Ephesus. The most important trade was textiles. In addition, marble, grain and livestock commerce also provided an important income to the city. The land was fertile and the pastures produced great flocks of sheep.

The city gained prominence as a Christian center and as a place of religious pilgrimage in the Early Byzantine Period. Extant churches among the ruins date from the 4th-7th centuries AD. A well-preserved Church built during the reign Constantine the Great was discovered in 2010 using ground-penetrating radar. The excavations and restorations of this large basilican structure have been almost completed in the past two years.

By the end of 5th century AD another powerful earthquake destroyed Laodicea and the city lost its importance. It was never rebuilt and its inhabitants moved to nearby cities such as Denizli.

Today Laodicea boasts impressive remains of the ancient city including two theaters, the biggest stadium of Anatolia, four bath complexes, five agoras, five nymphaea, temples, churches and monumental colonnaded streets. In the last seven years, excavation work in the ancient city of Laodicea has unearthed some 2,300 artefacts as well as the Laodicean Church, the monumental columns of the Sacred Agora, and a “water law” marble block dating back to 114 AD. Restoration work of the western (Hellenistic) theatre is currently being conducted and is expected to be completed in 2019.

Laodicea was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Temporary list in 2013.

PORTFOLIO

The Colonnaded street.
Syria street, the main street of the ancient city of Laodicea stretches nearly one kilometre. This street was built in the Doric order in 84-85 AD during the proconsulship of S. Iulius Frontinus. It was later repaired using the Corinthian order.
Temple A, built in the 2nd century AD during the Antonine period.
The courtyard of the reconstructed Temple A built in the 2nd century AD during the Antonine period. Located to the north of the Syria Street, the prostyle temple of Corinthian order was surrounded by porticoes.
Temple A. The naos rises on a high platform built with travertine blocks and faced with marble. A stairway of seven steps bounded with marble banisters on both sides leads up to the naos. The temple was dedicated to Apollo, Artemis and Aphrodite as well as the imperial cult. It was heavily renovated in the reign of Emperor Diocletian (284-305 AD).
3D reconstruction of Temple A.
3D reconstruction of Temple A.
The courtyard of Temple A.
The courtyard of Temple A.
The podium of Temple A.
The podium of Temple A.

The monumental nymphaeum built during the reign of Septimius Severus.
The monumental nymphaeum dedicated to Septimius Severus.
3D reconstruction of the monumental nymphaeum dedicated to Septimius Severus.
3D reconstruction of the monumental nymphaeum dedicated to Septimius Severus.
The monumental nymphaeum built during the reign of Septimius Severus. It consisted of a square water basin with a colonnade on two sides adjoined by semicircular fountains.
The monumental nymphaeum dedicated to Septimius Severus. It consisted of a rectangular water basin with a two-storey colonnade on three sides.
The Clubhouse of the Greens, a building complex of three interconnected rooms and dated to the Early Byzantine period.
The Clubhouse of the Greens, a chariot rider club. The building complex had three interconnected rooms and is dated to the Early Byzantine period.
North (Sacred) Agora.
The small theatre dating to the Roman period, it faces North West, only the upper parts of the seating remain, Laodicea on the Lycus, Phrygia, Turkey
The big theatre dating to the Hellenistic period.
The small theatre dating to the Roman period.
The small theatre dating to the Roman period.
North (Sacred) Agora located between the West and North Theatres and covering an area of 265×128 m.
The Central Bath Complex.
The Central Bath Complex, located to the south of the Central Agora. The complex occupied four insulae and comprised four main halls: apodyterium (changing hall), frigidarium (cold hall), tepidarium (lukewarm hall), and caldarium (hot hall), and a training ground (palaestra).
Stadium Street, the North-South Street extending south from the western end of the Syria Street.
Stadium Street, the North-South Street extending south from the western end of Syria Street. The street was paved with large travertine blocks. The porticoes along both sides of the Syria Street were roofed over in order to protect the people from the sun in the summer and rain in the winter.
View of Syria street toward the East Byzantine Gate.
View of Syria street toward the two towers of the East Byzantine Gate.
The Nymphaeum of Caracalla, built on the occasion of Emperor Caracalla’s visit to the city in 215 AD and dedicated to him.
The Nymphaeum of Caracalla, built on the occasion of Caracalla’s visit to the city in 215 AD and dedicated to him. The reliefs depict scenes with Heracles and the Abduction of Ganymedes by Zeus.
The Church of Laodikeia built during the reign of Constantine the Great. It was uncovered in 2010.
The Church of Laodicea built during the reign of Constantine the Great and best known for being one of the Seven churches of Asia addressed by name in the Book of Revelation. It was uncovered in 2010.
Reconstruction drawing of the Church of Laodikeia.

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6 thoughts on “Laodicea on the Lycus

  1. I’m so amazed and envious of your experiences in the Mediterranean world of Hadrian’s time. You go, girl and keep the commentary and photos coming.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s always wonderful when you expend the extra effort to provide visual reconstructions. Thank you for that and all your expansive revelations to us your readers.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Hierapolis (Pamukkale) – following hadrian photography

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