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The Ancient City of One of the Seven Churches

in revelation

Laodicea on the Lycus  was an ancient city in Asia Minor, now Turkey, on the river Lycus (Çürüksu). It was located in the Hellenistic regions of Caria and Lydia, which later became the Roman Province of Phrygia Pacatiana. It is now situated near the modern city of Denizli.

Since 2002 archaeology has been continuing by Pamukkale University in Denizli followed by intensive restoration work.

In 2013 the archaeological site was inscribed in the Tentative List of World Heritage Sites in Turkey.

It contained one of the Seven churches of Asia mentioned in the Book of Revelation.

Category:         Ancient City

Civilisation       Lydia /Asia Minor


Laodicea 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.

It lay on a major trade route and in its neighbourhood were many important ancient cities; it was 17 km west of Colossae, 10 km south of Hierapolis. and 160 km east of Ephesus. It was situated in the ancient region of Phrygia, although some ancient authors place Laodicea in differing provincial territories, not surprising because the precise limits of these territories were both ill-defined and inconstant; for example, Ptolemy and Philostratus call it a town of Caria, while Stephanus of Byzantium describes it as belonging to Lydia.


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The town was originally called Diospolis, "City of Zeus", and afterwards Rhodas. Excavations in the northern necropolis have shown that the settlement existed before the Hellenistic foundation and was inhabited by the native population.

Laodicea was founded on the site of the older town by Antiochus II Theos, king of the Seleucid Empire, in 261-253 BC in honour of his wife Laodice, together with several other cities of the same name. Laodicea soon became quite wealthy. In 220 BC, Achaeus declared himself king of the region but was defeated by Antiochus the Great in 213 BC. Antiochus transported 2,000 Jewish families to Phrygia from Babylonia. Many of Laodicea's inhabitants were Jews from this time, and Cicero records that Flaccus later confiscated the considerable sum of 9 kg of gold which was being sent annually to Jerusalem for the Temple

After the Battle of Magnesia in 188 BC when the Romans defeated the Seleucids, the Treaty of Apamea was signed which gave control of the whole of western Asia Minor to the Kingdom of Pergamon. With the death of its last king, its territory was bequested to Rome in 133 BC. It received from Rome the title of free city. It suffered greatly during the Mithridatic Wars but quickly recovered under the dominion of Rome. Towards the end of the Roman Republic and under the first emperors, Laodicea benefitted from its advantageous position on a trade route and became one of the most important and flourishing commercial cities of Asia Minor, in which large money transactions and an extensive trade in black wool were carried out. Its renowned wealth is referred to in the Bible


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During the Roman period Laodicea was the chief city of a Roman conventus, which comprised 24 cities besides itself; Cicero records holding assizes there ca. 50 BC.

Strabo (64 BC - 24 AD) attributes the celebrity of the city to the fertility of the soil and the wealth of some of its inhabitants, amongst whom may have been Hiero of Laodicea, who adorned the city with many beautiful buildings and bequeathed to it more than 2000 talents at his death.

The wealth of its inhabitants engendered a taste for the arts of the Greeks, as is manifest from its ruins, and that it contributed to the advancement of science and literature is attested by the names of the sceptics Antiochus and Theiodas, the successors of Aenesidemus (1st century BC), and by the existence of a great medical school. Its wealthy citizens embellished Laodicea with beautiful monuments. One of the chief of these citizens, Polemon (r. 37 BC - 8 AD), became King of Armenian Pontus (called after him "Polemoniacus") and of the coast round Trebizond. The city minted its own coins, the inscriptions of which show evidence of the worship of Zeus, Æsculapius, Apollo, and the emperors.

The area often suffered from earthquakes, especially from the great shock that occurred in the reign of Nero (60 AD) in which the town was completely destroyed. But the inhabitants declined imperial assistance to rebuild the city and restored it from their own means.

The martyrdom of Lulianos and Paphos is believed to have happened here.

The Byzantine writers often mention Laodicea, especially in the time of the Komnenian emperors. In 1119, Emperor John II Komnenos and his chief military commander, John Axouch, captured Laodicea from the Seljuk Turks in the first major military victory of his reign.

It was fortified by the emperor Manuel I Komnenos. In 1206–1230, it was ruled by Manuel Maurozomes. The city was destroyed during the invasions of the Turks and Mongols.


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