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LAODICEA AD LYCUM (Goncali) Turkey.

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 (HN 5.105) 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 (App.Mithr. 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 are sarcophagi.


W. M. Ramsay, Cities and Bishoprics of Phrygia I (1895) 32-83; J. des Gagniers, Laodicée du Lycos: le Nymphée (1969); G. E. Bean, Turkey beyond the Maeander (1971) 247-57.


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    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 5.29
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