Hierapolis (Pamukkale)

Hierapolis is an ancient Phrygian city located in Pamukkale, within the provincial borders of Denizli in south-western Turkey, about 10 km north of the ruins of Laodicea. The city was probably established by Eumenes II of Pergamon in 190 BC on a crossroad connecting the inner region of Anatolia to the Aegean Sea on the west. Founded at the site of an ancient cult, Hierapolis became a sacred city (hieron) and was dedicated to Apollo Lairbenos. Its chief religious festival was the Letoia, named after the goddess Leto. Hierapolis was famed for its sacred hot springs whose vapors were associated with Pluto, god of the underworld. Hierapolis was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1988 and has become a popular tourist destination due to its extraordinary landscape formed by calcite-laden waters.

Coordinates: 37° 55′ 30″ N, 29° 7′ 33″ E

Usually said to be founded by Eumenes II, king of Pergamum, Hierapolis may actually have been established earlier in the 3rd century BC by the Seleucid dynasty. Two theories exist regarding its name. According to Stephanus of Byzantium, the name Hierapolis, meaning “holy city”, was chosen because of the religious traditions that developped in the area. The second theory suggests that the town was named for Hiera, wife of Telephus, the mythical founder of Pergamum.

Set high on a terrace formed by cascades of white travertine pools, its hot springs were believed to have healing properties and people came to the city to bathe in the rich mineral waters in order to cure various ailments. Ceded to Rome in 133 BC, the Hellenistic city grew into a flourishing Roman town and became one of the richest cities in Asia Minor. After being destroyed by an earthquake in 60 AD, the city was extensively rebuilt and subsequently reached its peak of importance in the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD.

In the 1st century AD Hierapolis was characterized by an intense construction activity, mainly pursued by the emperors of the Flavian dynasty. In the 2nd century the theatre and the monumental Agora was built. In 129 AD, Hierapolis was probably visited by Hadrian who, as a sign of generosity, had earlier returned the “aurum coronarium”, a large sum of money offered by the city to celebrate his accession to the throne. Under Septimius Severus, the city continued to grow and to thrive and it received its first (and only) neocoria (a grant to build temples to the Emperor and various administrative privileges) under Caracalla who visited the city in 215 AD.

Visualisation of Hierapolis in the 3rd century AD (Prof. Francesco D'Andria).
Visualisation of Hierapolis in the 3rd century AD (Prof. Francesco D’Andria).

Hierapolis city had a significant Jewish population, particularly in the 2nd and 3rd century AD, which facilitated the early spread of Christianity. According to tradition, the apostle Philip’s martyrdom occurred in Hierapolis in 80 AD and a church dedicated to him was built in the 5th century. With its several churches, Hierapolis became an important religious centre in the Byzantine years.

Hierapolis was first excavated towards the late 19th century and systematic excavations were started in 1957 by the Italian Archaeological Mission which is still carrying out research, as well as maintenance and restoration works on the archaeological site. The Museum of Hierapolis opened in 1970 in the Roman baths in order to accommodate the findings. The remains of Hierapolis extend over a large area and are particularly impressive. The remains include baths, temples, a monumental arch, nymphaea, necropolises and a theatre.

PORTFOLIO

The nothern Necropolis of Hierapolis, one of the best preserved cemeteries of Asia Minor. It was also one of the biggest ones, since more than 1,200 graves have been excavated in an area larger than 2 km.
The northern Necropolis of Hierapolis, one of the best preserved cemeteries of Asia Minor. It was also one of the biggest ones with more than 1,200 graves excavated in an area larger than 2 km.
The oldest tombs date from the Hellenistic period (1st-2nd c. BC). They are tumuli, whose vaulted burial room was founded on a circular wall at the bottom; they sometimes had a separate entrance. The vault of the roof was covered with soil.
The oldest tombs date from the Hellenistic period (1st-2nd century BC). They are tumuli whose vaulted burial room was founded on a circular wall with a roof covered with soil.
The funerary architecture of the necropolis of Hierapolis had variety of burial architecture
The Northern necropolis had an exceptional variety of burial architecture: from the simple sarcophagus to the mortuary chapel with a gabled roof or even structures imitating houses.
Northern acropolis, Tomb No. 166 (Tomb of the Gladiators). The tomb takes its name from from the travertine slab above the entrance bearing images linked to gladiatorial combat: an amphora for the oil offered as prize to the victor, a trident for combat, a circular shield.
Tomb No. 166 (Tomb of the Gladiators). The tomb takes its name from from the travertine slab above the entrance bearing images linked to gladiatorial combat: an amphora for the oil offered as prize to the victor, a trident for combat, a circular shield. (2nd-3rd centuries AD)
Relief with gladiatorial scenes, beginning of the 3rd century AD, from the Northern Necropolis of Hierapolis, Hierapolis Archaeology Museum, Turkey
Relief with gladiatorial scenes, beginning of the 3rd century AD, from the Northern Necropolis. Hierapolis Archaeology Museum.
The monumental tomb N°. A18 set on a high staircase surrounded by buttresses. Dated to the Flavian era, it had two antechambers.
The monumental tomb N°. A18 set on a high staircase surrounded by buttresses. Dated to the Flavian era, it had two antechambers.
The Northern Necropolis, Tomb No. 176 with a distinct facade that recalls the appearance of a house with a row of windows, 2nd-3rd centuries AD.
The Northern Necropolis, Tomb No. 176 with a distinct facade that recalls the appearance of a house with a row of windows (2nd-3rd centuries AD).
The Northern Necropolis beyond the city walls of Hierapolis.
The Northern Necropolis beyond the city walls of Hierapolis.
The Bath - Basilica located at the northern entrance to the city, built as a bath complex in the 2nd century AD and coverted into a Basilica church in the 6th century AD.
The Bath – Basilica located at the northern entrance to the city, built as a bath complex in the 2nd century AD and converted into a Basilica church in the 6th century AD.
Frontinus Gate, the monumental entrance to the Roman city, dating to 84 or 86 AD on the basis of a dedication to Domitian on the gate's facade.
Frontinus Gate, the monumental entrance to the Roman city. It was built of daedalian travertine and had with three arches and two circular towers situated on its eastern and western sides.
dating to 84 or 86 AD on the basis of a dedication to Domitian on the gate's facade
The gate, dating towards the late 1st century AD, has a marble inscription dedicated by Sextus Julius Frontinus, proconsul of Asia in 84-86 AD to Emperor Domitian. Thus, the names of the monumental street and the gate are related to Frontinus and Domitian.
Frontinus Street extending in the north-south direction. Originally 14 metres wide, it was the main axis of the city.
Frontinus Street extending in the north-south direction. It was the main axis of the city.
The paved street was 14 m wide and had an elevated pavement. A long drain covered with monolithic slabs ran in the middle of the street. On both sides of the impressive street with the double colonnade there were houses and shops with continuous Doric facades.
The paved street was 14 m wide and had an elevated pavement. There were houses and shops with continuous Doric facades with a double colonnade on both sides of the Frontinus Street.
Immediately after the gate of Frontinus the public latrines were found, dating from the end of the 1st century AD
The public latrine along Frontinus Street. The room was divided longitudinally by a row of columns that supported a roof composed of travertine blocks.
The room had two wings divided by a row of monolithic Doric columns supporting the big roof from travertine slabs. A drain was connected with the conduit of Frontinus Street. The niches for the seats are still preserved peripherally on the walls.
The latrine, dating from the end of the 1st century AD, had two wings divided by a row of monolithic Doric columns supporting the roof.
The monumental North Byzantine Gate built in the late 4th century AD and early 5th century AD.
The monumental North Byzantine Gate built in the late 4th century AD and early 5th century AD. It formed part of the fortification system and the entrance to the Byzantine city.
The Nymphaeum of the Tritons, a monumental fountain built during the reign of Alexander Severus (222-235 AD) as the inscription on the architrave block attests.
The Nymphaeum of the Tritons, a monumental fountain built during the reign of Alexander Severus (222-235 AD) as the inscription on the architrave block attests.
The Nymphaeum of the Tritons included a reservoir 70 m long. xcavations at the monument started in 1993 and brought to light the marble architectural members and the figures of the relief decoration, such as the Tritons, Erotes and dolphins.
The Nymphaeum of the Tritons included a reservoir 70 m long. xcavations at the monument started in 1993
and brought to light the marble architectural members and the figures of the relief decoration, such as the Tritons, Erotes and dolphins.
The Roman theatre, built in the 2nd century AD under Hadrian on the ruins of an earlier theatre, later renovated under Septimius Severus.
The Roman Theatre was built in the 2nd century AD under Hadrian during a period of extensive rebuilding following a devastating earthquake in 60 AD. It was later renovated under Septimius Severus. The theatre has been the object of important restorations between 2004 and 2014.
The theatre was 91 m wide with its cavea of 50 rows of seats, one diazoma, a semicircular Royal Box, and a vomitorium on either side.
The theatre was 91 m wide and had forty-five rows of seats separated by two diazomata and a vomitorium on either side. A semicircular marble tribunalia reserved for priests, dignitaries and honored guests, dominates the centre of the lower cavea. The cavea could accommodate approximately 15,000 people.
During the reign of Severus at the beginning of the 3rd century, the old scaenae frons was replaced by a new, more monumental one, organized on three storeys and flanked by two imposing side entry buildings. Sculptural reliefs, displaying mythological subjects, were placed on the different storeys, while dedicatory inscriptions ran along the entablatures.
Emperor Septimus Severus in procession with his family and the gods, with an inscription and dedication.
Emperor Septimius Severus in procession with his family and the gods, with an inscription and dedication.
Detail of the stage building with a statue placed between the niche and relief depicting a hunting scene from the Artemis cycle frieze.
Detail of the stage building with a statue placed between the niche and relief depicting a hunting scene from the Artemis cycle frieze.
Statues of Artemis, Leto and Apollo, from the Roman theatre, end of 2nd century AD.
Statues of Artemis, Leto and Apollo, from the Roman theatre, end of 2nd century AD.
The west-side of the Agora built in the 2nd century AD during the reign of Hadrian.
The western side of the Agora, built in the 2nd century AD during the reign of Hadrian. It was the commercial centre of the city. The Agora was surrounded by marble porticoes with Ionic columns at the front and Corinthian columns in its interior.
The eastern basilica-stoa of the Agora built in the 2nd century AD, it was a two-story structure and had a two-story Ionic facade.
The eastern basilica-stoa of the Agora. It was a two-story structure with a Ionic facade.
The Temple of Apollo built in the 3rd century AD using stone blocks from the older temple.
The Temple of Apollo built in the 3rd century AD using stone blocks from the older temple. The front, approached by a flight of steps, stood on a podium about 2 m high. It contained a pronaos and cella, and had a row of columns, probably six, on the front only.
The Plutonium (Pluto's Gate), a sacred cave believed to be an entrance to the underworld and the oldest local sanctuary.
Adjoining the Temple of Apollo is the Plutonium (Pluto’s Gate), a sacred cave believed to be an entrance to the underworld. It is the oldest local sanctuary and the site was fully functional until the 4th century AD, but remained a place of sporadic visitation by visitors for the next two centuries.

This space is full of a vapor so misty and dense that one can scarcely see the ground…[…] Any animal that passes inside meets instant death” Strabo (Geography 13.4.14)

This digital reconstruction of the Plutonium shows the entire site. Credit: Francesco D'Andria
This digital reconstruction of the Plutonium shows the entire site. Credit: Francesco D’Andria
The cave emitted poisonous vapors in ancient times, and still does! Behind the 3 square metres (32 sq ft) roofed chamber is a deep cleft in the rock, through which fast-flowing hot water passes while releasing a sharp-smelling gas.
The Temple Nymphaeum, a two-story fountain with a U-shaped plan and two wings enclosing the large basin, 3rd century AD.
The Temple Nymphaeum, built in the 3rd century AD, was a two-story fountain with a U-shaped plan and two wings enclosing the large basin. Statues filled the niches in the walls.
The ruins of the Cathedral, one of the principal buildings of the Christian city, 1st half of 6th century AD.
The ruins of the Cathedral, one of the principal buildings of the Christian city, 1st half of 6th century AD. The church consisted of three aisles, divided by two rows of columns surmounted by capitals.
The bridge and flight of stairs built in the late 4th century AD in order to reach the hill of the Sanctuary of St. Philip.
The bridge and flight of stairs built in the late 4th century AD in order to reach the hill of the Sanctuary of St. Philip.
The Martyrium of St. Philip, a church with an octagonal core built in the 5th century AD on the summit of the hill outside the walls by the northern part of the city. Philip is said to have been martyred in Hierapolis in 80 AD by being crucified upside-down or by being hung upside down by his ankles from a tree.
The Tomb of martyred apostle Philip dating to the 1st century AD, it has a facade made of travertine blocks. The remains of the apostle Philip are no longer in the tomb, however.
The Tomb of martyred apostle Philip dating to the 1st century AD, it has a facade made of travertine blocks. However the remains of the apostle Philip are no longer in the tomb.
The remains of the Church of the Sepulchre, a threenaved church brought to light in 2011.
The remains of the Church of the Sepulchre, a threenaved church brought to light in 2011.
The Roman Bath, one of the biggest buildings of Hierapolis antique city, has been used as the site of the Hierapolis Archaeology Museum since 1984.
The Roman Bath, one of the biggest buildings of Hierapolis antique city, has been used as the site of the Hierapolis Archaeology Museum since 1984.
The hot springs and travertines, terraces of carbonate minerals left by the flowing water.

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Bibliography:

  • D’Andria, F . (2003): Hierapolis of Frigia. An archaeological guide. Istanbul
  • Erdal Yazıcı, Hierapolis Pamukkale Laodicea and City Surrounding (Uranus, 2014)

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 town of Denizli. The city was founded in the 3rd century BC on the river Lycus by the Seleucid King Antiochus II in honour of his wife, Laodice. The city became one of the most important and flourishing commercial centres of Asia Minor on the trade route from the East, famous for its woollen 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 town 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, Attalus 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 levelled by a powerful earthquake but was later rebuilt entirely. 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 centre 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. Besides, marble, grain and livestock commerce also provided an essential income to the city. The land was fertile, and the pastures produced great flocks of sheep.

The city gained prominence as a Christian centre 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 the 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 theatres, the biggest stadium of Anatolia, four bath complexes, five agoras, five nymphaea, temples, churches and monumental collonnaded 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 AD 114. 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

Syria street was the main street of Laodicea stretching nearly one kilometre. It was built in the Doric order in AD 84-85 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.
The 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.
The 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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