Images of Antiquity: Laodicea, Pt. 4

*Okay, so after posting this, I noticed that somehow, the pictures changed order. That could happen again, who knows, so, even though the pictures may have numbers in the bottom right corner, to go along with my comments below, take the picture of the theater as the first of the series (thus, theather pic = photo #1).

Continuing my series "Images of Antiquity," I offer here some photos and thoughts on ancient Laodicea, located in Turkey. You may copy, save, use and distribute these pictures in their present format. Please do not manipulate or change them. Thanks and enjoy!

In photo number one, you can see the Laodicean theater. Of all of the theaters I visited in Turkey, this was by far the largest one I saw (and I saw a lot of them because practically every sizeable city had one). It appears that this theater was used predominantly for plays and musical performances. The acoustics of this theather were amazing, one person could stand down in the center pit and another could stand at the top and when you spoke, it was like you were standing right next to one another. Laodicea is mentioned six times in the Scriptures at: Colossians 2.1, 4.13, 15, 16 and Revelation 1.11 and 3.14. Of all of these mentions, the most telling (from a visual point-of-view) is Revelation 3.14-22, it says:

To the angel of the Church of 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...To those whom I love I rebuke and discipline...To those who are victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne..."

While there is a whole lot going on here, we can see how some of these words might have evoked images of their surroundings in their heads. But we need to look at photos two through four to understand this more.

In photo two, you see an elaborate road, a road with many columns and decorated capitals, a road that was lined with many shops and which lead right to the enormous theater we just looked at (among other places). In short, this town was wealthy, just as is noted in Revelation. They seem to have gone all-out when building things but their ethics were found wanting; they didn't help those in need, even though they had the means. Sound familiar?

In photo number three of the slideshow, you can see me sitting in front of the ancient Laodicean stadium. One gets the impression from visiting Laodicea that the people of this area liked to do things large-scale. This stadium was one of the biggest (if not "the" biggest) in ancient Asia-Minor. In the photo, you can see many smaller stones around the sides of the stadium, these were essentially the seats. Perhaps when the Laodiceans heard the term "victory" the stadium was one of the things that came to mind!(As with the theater, it is likely that the seats are so crumbled and spread out from numerous earthquakes that hit the area, perhaps alluded to in Rev.) If you look closely, you can also see a large mountain range in the distance. For the most part, these mountains stay snow-capped. In fact, the Laodieans used these snow-capped mountains for water purposes, that is, they built aqueducts that allowed water to flume down to their city. Like everything else in this area, the aqueduct system was large. (You can see a picture of the aqueducts in the fourth photo.)

This portion of the flume system (photo #4) is located about 15 to 20 feet left of where I was sitting in the previous stadium photo. In that picture, the mountains were a considerable distance behind me (maybe 5-10+ miles), therefore, you can kind of sense how gigantic this water system was. The water flowed on the top of the arches where there was an engraved pipe-like system. John mentions in Revelation that the Laodiceans are neither hot nor cold but lukewarm. I showed some pictures in my previous post of this series (Pamukkale) how the nearby city of Pamukkale had hot springs. These springs were more therapeutic than anything; they were known for their healing. Well, just a few miles away, here in Laodicea, there was fresh, cold water that flowed in from the mountains. A few miles from both Pamukkale and Laodicea, some archeologists have found an underground pipe system, a system that was meant to pipe in cold and hot water from surrounding areas. However, it was often the case that this piped water would grow tepid or lukewarm on the way in and thus, become undrinkable. So, it is possible that John is drawing on all of these local water sources to make his point: being cold is good because it is refreshing, being warm is good because it is therapeutic but being lukewarm is bad because it is niether, it is useless and undesirable, therefore, you are to be hot or cold--therapeutic or refreshing to the soul and to society--not lukewarm or useless (again, I believe though, that there is more going on in John's statement than just this!).

So, that is it for Laodicea, next up in the series is ancient Ephesus!

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