LAODICEA AD LYCUM
City in Phrygia, 6 km N of Denizli, founded by Antiochos II of Syria in honor of his wife Laodice between
261 and 253 B.C. An alternative tradition, recorded by
Stephanos Byzantios, that the foundation was made by
Antiochos I in response to a dream, and the city named
after his sister Laodice, is generally discredited, no
sister of that name being known. According to Pliny
) the site was previously occupied by a place
called Diospolis; this may be correct, as Zeus was the
chief deity of Laodicea.
The city has little history. Achaios was crowned there
in 220 B.C. (Polyb. 5.57). In the first Mithridatic war
Laodicea opposed the king and was besieged by his
forces; the defense was conducted by Quintus Oppius
. 20). Chosen as the capital of the conventus
of Kibyra, the city resisted the Parthians under Labienus
in 40 B.C. at the instigation of a citizen named Zeno
(Strab. 660). It was damaged by an earthquake in A.D.
60, but recovered without help from the emperor. The
title of neocorus was granted by Commodus, taken away
after his death and damnatio, then restored by Caracalla.
Christianity was introduced by Epaphras, the companion
of St. Paul, though in Revelations the Laodiceans are
rebuked as lukewarm. Later the city was the seat of the
metropolitan of Phrygia Pacatiana. A disastrous earthquake in 494 ended all prosperity, though the city continued to exist until the Turkish conquest.
The site occupies a low flat-topped hill 10 km S of
Hierapolis, on the other side of the river Lykos. The
whole city was contained within the circuit wall, of which
only a few traces remain on the E side. The three gates
were called the Ephesian Gate, the Hierapolis Gate and
the Syrian Gate, though only the last of these names has
ancient authority; it is also the best preserved. Two small
but perennial streams, called in antiquity the Kapros and
Asopos, run close below the hill, one on each side.
The two theaters, both above average size, are in the
NE slope of the hill. The larger one faces NE, with most
of its seats preserved; the lower parts of the stage building also survive, though only the front wall is at present
visible, with a large shallow niche in the middle. The
smaller one faces NW, but only the upper parts of the
seating remain. The stadium, at the S end of the plateau,
is hardly better preserved; it is exceptionally long, about
370 m, and rounded at both ends. A few of the rows of
seats survive. Inscriptions call it the amphitheatral stadium, and it was dedicated to Vespasian in A.D. 79 by
a wealthy citizen. At its SE end is a large ruined building, in solid masonry, which has been variously identified
as a gymnasium or, with greater probability, as a bath
building; it was dedicated to Hadrian and Sabina. Just
outside this building are the remains of a water tower
still some 5 m high; the pipes are visible running up in
the mass of the masonry.
An aqueduct coming from the S connected with this
tower; its course may be traced for several km towards
Denizli. Immediately S of the water tower the channel
consists of a double row of blocks pierced through the
middle. Some blocks also have a funnel-shaped hole from
the upper surface to the central pipe; these were normally
plugged with round stones. The purpose was evidently to
enable a stoppage to be located. The pipes tended to
become choked with a lime deposit; when this occurred
the plug would be removed to see whether the channel
was dry at that point. On the next hill to the S was a
clearing basin, where the water coming from the S ceased
to flow by the force of gravity and began to cross the
intervening hollow to the city under pressure. Farther S
the water was carried partly in aqueducts built of masonry, partly in a rock-cut channel. The source was the
spring now called Başpinar, in the town of Denizli; the
fall from there to Laodicea is ca. 105 m.
Near the center of the plateau is a recently excavated
nymphaeum, the only excavation yet conducted on the
site. In its original form, dating apparently to the 3d c.
A.D., it consisted of a square water basin with a colonnade on two sides adjoined by semicircular fountains;
these were fed from chambers above by water brought
from the tower near the stadium. Later the basin was
converted into a closed room approached by steps on
one side and used for Christian purposes. The fountains
were walled off and troughs placed in front of them.
Among the finds was a life-size statue of Isis.
Little remains of other public buildings on the hill.
About 100 m N of the stadium is a small odeum or
council chamber, in which five or six rows of seats are
visible. The city's tombs were placed in the usual fashion
beside the roads leading to the city gates; most of them
W. M. Ramsay, Cities and Bishoprics
I (1895) 32-83; J. des Gagniers, Laodicée
du Lycos: le Nymphée
(1969); G. E. Bean, Turkey beyond the Maeander
G. E. BEAN