In 190 BC Laodicea came under the rule of Pergamum, then after 133 BC it was controlled by Rome and made a free city. About the end of the first century BC it was one of the principal cities of Asia Minor, famous for fabrics, sandals and medicine. Laodicea (full name: "Laodicea ad Lyceum," "Laodicea on the Lycus") was also a major banking center where, in 51 BC, the Roman statesman and philosopher Cicero cashed drafts en route to his native Cilicia (St. Paul's home province).
In the 1st century AD Laodicea was inhabited by its indigenous population of Greek-speaking Syrians, Greeks, Romans and Romanized natives along with an important Jewish colony. These Jews regularly sent a contribution of gold to Jerusalem Temple. According to Cicero, in 62 BC the Roman governor Flaccus confiscated 20 pounds of gold.
Christianity came early to the city. Paul implies a close relationship between the churches in Laodicea and Colossae. The church in Laodicea was probably founded by Epaphras from Colossae and the faithful of Laodicea met in the home of Nympha (Colossians 4:15). Additionally Paul sent greetings to Archippus, who may have been from Laodicea (Colossians 4:17).
Above, Google Earth view of the enormous, flat mound of Laodicea, 3.7 miles from the modern city of Denizli, between the narrow valleys of the small rivers Asopus and Caprus. The whole area of the ancient city is covered with ruined structures. The sites of several temples, with bases of columns can be seen. On the east the line of an ancient wall can be traced, with the remains of a gateway; there is also a street within and without the city, flanked by ruins of a colonnade and numerous pedestals. Note, too, the caveas of two theaters on the north side (top), and the remains of the city's stadium and a bathhouse on the south side. Laodicea contains monumental remains just under the surface awaiting excavation.
Above, view from the mound of Laodicea toward the mountains rising above the Lycus River valley.
Above, architectural fragments atop the large mound of Laodicea. No extensive excavations have been done at the site. But, since 2000 the Archaeology Department of Pamukkale University (near ancient Hierapolis) has been conducting varying levels of fieldwork. Archaeology teams have unearthed a 1,500-year-old cloth-dyeing center and a large villa.
Above, in recent years the city's main street (Cardo Maximus?) has been partially restored. Beneath the road is a sewer system for carrying dirty water from homes and businesses.
Above, view north across the cavea of the city's Roman period theater (8,000 seats?). Though a shadow of its former self it still has near-perfect acoustics.
Above, the larger of the city's two theaters (15,000 seats?), dating to the Hellenistic period, is on the north side of the mound. The fact that the city had two theaters is an indication of its prosperity. The seats were engraved with their owner's names.
Above, on the south side of the plateau is a large stadium that also served as an amphitheater. It was dedicated by a wealthy citizen to the Roman emperor Vespasian and was used for both athletic and gladiatorial contests. The stadium had seats for 40,000, with space for an extra 15,000 on its north slope.
Above, view north of an unexcavated Odeum. Possibly covered by a roof, it was used for lectures and concerts. It could have also served as a bouleuterion, a meeting place for the Laodica city council (Greek boule).
Above, view south at some of the arches that were part of the gymnasium/bathhouse, located north of the stadium. It was dedicated to the emperor Hadrian and his wife Sabina around 124 AD.
Above, rooms of a large home uncovered near the agora (marketplace).
Above, part of the double aqueduct that brought water from the south to Laodicea. This section was made of individual stone blocks, hollowed out then sealed together with plaster and olive oil. The water was so concentrated with minerals that the Roman engineers designed vents, capped by removable stones, so the aqueduct pipes could be periodically cleared of deposits.
Above, mineral-encrusted water pipes in a 16-foot-high water tower on the south side of the mound, near the stadium and bathhouse. The aqueduct that carried water into the city ended here. From here the lukewarm mineral water was distributed throughout the city.
Above, view across the Lycus River valley of the layers of white limestone formed by mineral-laden hot springs on the side of the hill below the site of Hierapolis (modern Pamukkale, "cotton castle" in Turkish), 6 miles north of Laodicea.