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HIERA´POLIS (Ἱερὰ πόλις), the “Sacred City” of Cyrrhestica in Syria, situated on the high road from Antioch to Mesopotamia, 24 M. P. to the W. of the Euphrates and 36 M. P. to the SW. of Zeugma (Pent. Tab.), 2 1/2 days' journey from Beroea, and 5 days' from Antioch (Zosim. 3.12).

Hierapolis, or Hieropolis as it is called always on coins and in Stephanus of Byzantium, obtained its Hellenic name from Seleucus Nicator (Aelian, Ael. NA 12.2), owing to the circumstance of BAMBYCE (Βαμβύκη), as it was called by the natives, being the chief seat of the worship of the “Syrian goddess” Astarte, or personification of the passive powers of Nature. (Lucian, de Dea Syr. c. i.)

“Bambycen quae alio nomine Hierapolis vocatur; Syris vero Magog. Ibi prodigiosa Atargatis, Graecis autem Deeceto dicta, colitur,” Plin. Nat. 5.19. Sillig (ad loc.) has in his text “Mabog,” which is the correct reading, and appears in the Oriental forms “Munbedj” (Jaubert, Géog. d'Edrise, vol. ii. pp. 138, 155), “Manbesja,” “Manbesjum” (Schultens, Vita Salad.), “Menba,” “Manba” (Schultens, Index Geogr.), “Manbegj” (Abú--l-fedá, Tab. Syr. p. 128), and the modern name Kará Bambuche, or Bugúk Munbedj. Under the Seleucidae, from its central position be-tween Antioch and Seleuceia on the delta of the Tigris, it became a great emporium. Strabo (xvi. p.748) has given an interesting account of the passage of the caravans from Syria to Seleuceia and Babylon; the confusion of Edessa and Hierapolis is an error probably of the transcriber (comp. Groskurd, ad loc.). Crassus plundered the rich temple of the goddess, who presided over the elements of nature and the productive seeds of things, and seized upon the treasures, which it took several days to weigh and examine. And it was here that an ill omen befel him. (Plut. Crass. 17.)

Under Constantine, Hierapolis became the capital of the new province Euphratensis. (Malal. Chron. xiii. p. 317.) Julian, in his Persian campaign, appointed Hierapolis as the rendezvous for the Roman troops before their passage of the Euphrates. He has given an account of his march to it, which took up five days, in a letter to Libanius (Ep. xxvii.), and remained there three days, at the house of Sopater, a distinguished pupil of Iamblichus. At Hierapolis one of those unlucky signs which Ammianus (23.2.6) has so carefully recorded, took place at his entrance into the town. (Comp. Gibbon, c. xxiv; Le Beau, Bas Empire, vol. iii. p. 58.)

With the establishment of Christianity, Hierapolis recovered its ancient, indigenous Syrian name, but lost its splendour and magnificence by the downfall. of the old worship (A.D. 540). Buzes, who commanded during the absence of Belisarius in the East, concentrated his forces at Hierapolis, but it only escaped being pillaged by Chosroes by the payment of tribute. (Procop. B. P. 2.6; Gibbon, c. xlii.; Le Beau, vol. ix. p. 12.)

A.D. 1068 it was captured by the emperor Romanus Diogenes, in his valiant efforts to resist the progress of the Turks. (Zonar. vol. ii. p. 279; Le Beau, vol. xiv. p. 472.)

It does not fall within the province of this article to trace the connection between Bambyce == “Bombycina urbs,” “Bombyciis copiis gaudens,” and the introduction of the silk-worm from the East; much curious information on this point will be found in Ritter (Erdkunde, vol. x. pp. 1056--1062).

The ruins of this city were first discovered and described by Maundrell (Journal, p. 204) and by Pococke (Trav. vol. ii. pt. i. p. 166). But it was not till the period of Colonel Chesney's Expedition. that the position was accurately fixed.

At a distance of 16 miles W. by S. of the passage of Kal‘--at-en-ejm, at about 600 feet above the Euphrates, the ruins of Hierapolis occupy the centre of a rocky plain, where, by its isolated position, the city must not only have been deprived of running water, but likewise of every advantage which was likely to create and preserve a place of importance. [p. 1.1065]

Some ruined mosques and square Saracenic towers, with the remains of its surrounding walls and ditches, mark the limits of the Muslim city, within which are four large cisterns, a fine sarcophagus, and, among other ancient remains, the scattered ruins of an acropolis and two temples.

Of the smaller, the inclosure and portions of seven columns remain; but it seems to possess little interest compared with the larger, which may have been that of the Syrian “Queen of Heaven.” Among the remains of the latter are some fragments of massive architecture, not unlike the Aegyptian, and 11 arches form one side of a square paved court, over which are scattered the shafts of columns and capitals displaying the lotus.

A little way to the W. of the walls there is an extensive necropolis, which contains many Turkish, with some Pagan, Seljukian, and Syriac tombs; the last having some almost illegible inscriptions in the ancient character. (Chesney, Exped. Euphrat. vol. i. p. 516.) Hierapolis was the ecclesiastical metropolis of the province Euphratensis. (Neale, Hist. of East. Church, vol. i. p. 134.)

Eckhel (vol. iii. p. 261) has noticed the fact, that the coins of Hierapolis copy the type of those of Antioch: they are Seleucid, autonomous, and imperial, ranging from Trajan to the elder and younger Philip.


hide References (3 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (3):
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 5.19
    • Plutarch, Crassus, 17
    • Aelian, De Natura Animalium, 12.2
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