Laodiceia (or Laodikeia) May 23, 2009

Trip Start Feb 08, 2008
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Trip End Sep 11, 2009


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Flag of Turkey  , Denizli Province,
Monday, June 1, 2009

Most people come to this region to visit the (formerly) white travertine pools of Pamukkale and the ruins of Heiropolis just above them. I had visited both in 2006. On this trip I was centrally interested in another near-by archaeological site, Laodiceia.

After a day at Nysa, and another night in the expensive hotel in Aydin (with the shower in a little glass booth) I  decided to relocate to a cheaper place in Denizli for my next exploration, the archaeological site of Laodiceia. The principle attraction for Laodiceia for most people, I suppose, is that it was a city mentioned in the Bible, the Revelations of Saint John. Another book I trudge around is Fant & Reddish, A Guide to Biblical Sites in Greece and Turkey. This book reports that John 3:17 says of Laodiceia as having boasted, "I am rich. I have prospered and I need nothing." That must have been a comment on arrogance.

Reading up for accommodations, none were listed for Denizli, yet there were plentiful cheap places in Pamukkale just near. Pamukkale, after all is the location of the formerly white travertine pools, a singular popular attraction for tourists. Above the cascades also resides the archaeological site of Hieropolis. I had visited both three years ago, and didn't feel any strong inclination to revisit either. But the aforementioned accommodations were roughly in between those two places and Laodiceia.

However, when I showed  up, what had been listed as a pension had "up graded" to a hotel, and I capitulated to settling for pretty much the same things as I had just left, albeit a bit nicer. But, for about the same price. Oh, well, only one more night of such luxury. (The glass booth shower. And a very nice room, it must be said).

There was more to Laodiceia than I had been led to expect. It is an active archaeological dig. And, like several other sites that I have been visiting, there is more to see than the books that I carry could have known about. By active, I don't necessarily mean I have seen archaeologists at work. I think the active season has not yet begun this year. But I mean that there has been on-going activity in the recent summers. And it is sometimes amazing to see how much work can be accomplished in a couple of months. (Or six months, in the cases of my return after three years at some other locations).

A joke upon myself was that as I entered the fenced site some fellows were digging just near the entrance. An "archaeologist" (with a clipboard) was standing by. I was tempted to stroll over and ask why they were digging an exploratory trench just there. But I resisted.


Also testimony to the on-going work was that Laodiceia had the newest,
nicest and most complete signage that I have seen. They show where you
are located in relation to the whole, and what you are looking at. And
in some cases how the original structures might have looked in their
prime.



So, at Laodiceia there was more to see than I had expected. And, there was some activity taking place. It was not too exciting, just a crane lifting large, tumbled-down stones out of a collapsed fountain area. The stones are cleared from the ruined location and set aside for labeling and identification toward future attempts at reconstruction.


I walked around the place until quite late in the afternoon/evening. I was about to turn and head over a hill to see the stadium, said to be one of the largest, even bigger than the one at Aphrodisias. But just then a site guard rode up near-by on four-wheeled scooter. He pointed to his watch, waved his hands in a criss-cross, and said the single English word, "Abandon."

How could I do otherwise than smile at that and head for the exit? "Abandon!" It still gives me a laugh.

Oh, and that "exploratory archaeological trench" at the entrance gate? It was for a concrete footing for a site sign at the entrance.
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