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With Seleucia, Antioch, and Apamea, one of the four great towns which Seleucus I Nicator (301-281 B.C.) founded in N Syria. Conquered by Pompey and declared by Caesar to be a free town, it suffered badly during the Roman civil wars. It was sacked by Pescennius Niger at the end of the 2d c. A.D., restored by Septimius Severus, and continued to be an active city during Byzantine times and after the Moslem conquest.

There are few remains of what was a rich and well-built town (Strab. 16.2.9): colonnades, a monumental arch, sarcophagi, all within the modern town. The sanctuaries, public baths, amphitheater, hippodrome, mentioned by ancient authors or by Greek inscriptions, and the rampart gates depicted on coins, have all disappeared.

The town occupies a rocky promontory, bounded to W and S by the sea and to the E by two hills. Earthquakes and sieges have left no trace of the ramparts, but the confines of the ancient town can be determined by topography and by the two large necropoleis to the E and N. Including the port, its area was ca. 220 ha, and the plan of the Seleucid town can be recognized under the modern streets. Those running E-W were spaced 100 or 120 m apart, those running N-S ca. 60 m apart. A wide avenue, bordered with porticos in Roman times, ran N-S across the town, from the tip of the peninsula to the gate where the road to Antioch started; perpendicular to this, three colonnaded streets ran from E to W. The one to the N was centered on the entry to the citadel on the high hill to the NE. The central one came from the E gate, where the Apamea road reached the city. The street today is occupied by the great souk, where there is still an alignment of 13 monolithic granite columns. A tetrapylon marked the crossing of this thoroughfare with the N-S avenue. The S street began at the port and ended to the E at the long steep hill to the SE, where a monumental four-way arch, erroneously called a tetrapylon, closed off the view. This arch consists of four semicircular arches, one on each side, supporting a stone cupola. Columns engaged in pilasters serve as buttresses at the corners of the four masonry moles. Not far away, inside a mosque, is the corner of a Corinthian peristyle, with capitals and entablature. Virtually nothing remains of the theater, which was built against the SE hill and whose cavea had a diameter of ca. 100 m.

The port was a basin, now silted up, E of the modern port, and not long ago the huge marble blocks used to pave the wharfs could be seen there. Coins of the Imperial period depict the lighthouse: it stood on the basin's N breakwater, where the small modern lighthouse is located. It was a round or polygonal tower with two stories, the upper one set back; it stood on a base with two steps and was topped by a statue.

Several large marble statues of Hellenistic style have been found in Laodicea or its vicinity (now in the Damascus museum).


E. Renan, Mission de Phénicie (1864-74); M. de Vogüé, Syrie centrale, Architecture civile et religieuse (1865-77)I; J. Sauvaget, “Le plan de Laodicée-sur-mer,” BEO 4 (1935)MPI; H. Seyrig, “Le phare de Laodicée,” Syria 29 (1952) (Antiquités syriennes IV)I.


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