Laodicea, Colossae, & Aphrodisias

Trip Start Jun 21, 2012
Trip End Jul 11, 2012

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Flag of Turkey  , Aydın,
Thursday, June 28, 2012

I'm running a bit behind with entries for the last few days, both from being busy touring around and from lack of internet access. We left Pumakkale and travelled by coach to the ruins at Laodicea, which is located on the Lycus River in Turkey. This is an active archaeological site, so there were restrictions on where we could go, and there were people on the site digging. There were also cranes to put large stones back into place - sort of like a gigantic lego set! The most memorable part about Laodicea for me comes from the passage in Revelation, where John says they are neither hot nor cold - Revelation 3:14-22: “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.
Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.
To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
The site is located between Hierapolis, where there are hot springs coming out from under the ground, and Colossae, at the base of the moutons where there would have been cold spring water. When you stand at Laodicea, you can see both of these sites, and it's easy to imagine them having water that was either tepid after coming from the hot springs, or warm after coming from the cold in the other direction. I'd always though hot was good, and cold bad, but the imagery is used to convey usefulness and effectiveness. Cold is good, as is hot, but warm is good for nothing! Also, the Laodicean's refused help to rebuild their city after an earthquake - they were rich and could look after themselves. In the Revelation, Jesus has used imagery that would have been familiar to them, located where they were and in their rich material situation.

Our next stop was at Colossae, at the bottom of the mountains. The site here hasn't had any excavation work done at all yet, so it's just an empty mound of dirt in a farmers field! There are a handful of stone blocks and so forth visible, and lots of shards of pottery lying around on the ground that have come up from working the soil, but nothing much at all. Apparently the university that has the right to dig here is spending their money developing Laodicea first, so it will be some time before this site is properly explored.

We had lunch at a beautiful restaurant surrounded by lush gardens, and then moved on to Aphrodisias, which has little biblical mention, but is an interesting site none the less. There is a temple to Aphrodite, a large theatre and various other partially restored structures. The town here had locals living in it until quite recently, and the ancient building materials such as stones, columns, etc had been used in their houses and fences! They were relocated so the site could be properly dug up and restored, but there are photos in a museum showing the houses before this happened.

Our hotel for the night is in a seaside town called Kusadasi, and we'll be here for two nights. It's another 5 star hotel, with amazing views over the Aegean Sea. The sunset was incredible!
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