, AD LYCUM
(Λαοδίκεια πρὸς τῷ Λν́κῶ
: Eski Hissar
), a city in the south-west of Phrygia1
, about a mile from the rapid river Lycus, 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, and afterwards Rhoas (Plin. Nat. 5.29
), and Laodiceia, the building of which is ascribed to Antiochus Theos, in honour of his wife Laodice, was probably founded on the site of the older town.
It was not far west from Colossae, and only six miles to the west of Hierapolis. (It. Ant.
p. 337; Tab. Peut.;
Strab. xiii. p; 629.)
At first Laodiceia was not a place of much importance, but it soon acquired a high degree of prosperity.
It suffered greatly during the Mithridatic War (Appian, Bell. Mithr.
20; Strab. xii. p.578
), but quickly recovered under the dominion of Rome; and towards the end of the Republic and under the first emperors, Laodiceia became one of the most important and flourishing commercial cities of Asia Minor, in which large money transactions and an extensive trade in wood were carried on. (Cic. Fam. 2.1. 7
; Strab. xii. p.577
; comp. Vitr. 8.3.
) The place often suffered from earthquakes, especially from the great shock in the reign of Tiberius, in which it was completely destroyed.
But the inhabitants restored it from their own means. (Tac. Ann. 14.27.
) 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 did not remain behind-hand in science and literature is attested by the names of the sceptics Antiochus and Theiodas, the successors of Aenesidemus (D. L. 9.11.106
), and by the existence of a great medical school. (Strab. xii. p.580
.) During the Roman period Laodiceia was the chief city of a Roman conventus. (Cic. Fam. 3.7
, ad Att.
5.15, 16, 20, 21, 6.1, 2, 3, 7, in Verr.
1.30.) Many of its inhabitants were Jews, and it was probably owing to this circumstance, that at a very early period it became one of the chief seats of Christianity, and the see of a bishop. (St. Paul, Ep. ad Coloss.
2.1, 4.15, foil.; Apocal.
3.14, foll.; J. AJ 14.10
; Hierocl. p. 665.) The Byzantine writers often mention it, especially in the time of the Comneni; and it was fortified by the emperor Manuel. (Nicet. Chon. Ann.
pp. 9, 81.) During the invasion of the Turks and Mongols the city was much exposed to ravages, and fell into decay, but the existing remains still attest its former greatness, The ruins near Denisli
are fully described in Pococke's, Chandler's, Cockerell's, Arundel's and Leake's works. “Nothing,” says Hamilton (Researches,
vol. i. p. 515),
can exceed the desolation and melancholy appearance of the site of Laodiceia; no picturesque features in the nature of the ground on which it stands relieve the dull uniformity of its undulating and barren hills; and with few exceptions, its grey and widely scattered ruins possess no architectural merit to attract the attention of the traveller. Yet it is impossible to view them without interest, when we consider what Laodiceia once was, and how it is connected with the early history of Christianity. ..... Its stadium, gymnasium, and theatres (one of which is in a state of great preservation, with its [p. 2.123]
seats still perfectly horizontal, though merely laid upon the gravel), are well deserving of notice. Other buildings, also, on the top of the hill, are full of interest; and on the east the line of the ancient wall may be distinctly traced, with the remains of a gateway; there is also a street within and without the town, flanked by the ruins of a colonnade and numerous pedestals, leading to a confused heap of fallen ruins on the brow of the hill, about 200 yards outside the walls. 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.
Amongst other interesting objects are the remains of an aqueduct, commencing near the summit of a low hill to the south, whence it is carried on arches of small square stones to the edge of the hill.
The water must have been much charged with calcareous matter, as several of the arches are covered with a thick incrustation. From this hill the aqueduct crossed a valley before it reached the town, but, instead of being carried over it on lofty arches, as was the usual practice of the Romans, the water was conveyed down the hill in stone barrel-pipes; some of these also are much incrusted, and some completely choked up.
It traversed the plain in pipes of the same kind; and I was enabled to trace them the whole way, quite up to its former level in the town. .....
The aqueduct appears to have been overthrown by an earthquake, as the remaining arches lean bodily on one side, without being much broken.....
The stadium, which is in a good state of preservation, is near the southern extremity of the city.
The seats, almost perfect, 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. 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 whole area of the ancient city is covered with ruined buildings, and I could distinguish the sites of several temples, with the bases of the columns still in situ.
The 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. (Comp. Fellows, Journal written in Asia Minor,
p. 280, foll.; Leake, Asia Minor,
p. 251, foll.)