Today we continued our exploration of ancient cities visiting Laodicea and Hieropolis! Although it was a gray and gloomy day, we were very lucky and avoided the rain during our outdoor adventures. We didn't let the weather get us down! We began the day with a nice relaxing three hour drive to Laodicea.
Laodicea was an ancient city founded in the 2nd century BCE by the Seleucids as part of the Pergamon Empire. It later fell under Roman control, becoming a very prosperous city. It is located in a valley and was positioned between the two cities of Colossae to the west, and Hieropolis to the south, making Laodicea an important trade city. It was known for producing a very special type of wool which was used to make white garments for the sultans. The city contained the meeting point of the melting waters from Colossae and the snow waters from Hieropolis, creating a mixture that was unsafe for human consumption, but safe for sheep. The wool grown by the sheep that drank this special concoction was used to create these famous garments. They also created a very effective eye salve from this water.
Due to the wealth of Laodicea, the city often had a reputation for being snobby and thinking that they were better than everyone else. Saba, our tour guide, described one instance of this attitude when, in 44 CE, an earthquake rocked the city and its surrounding areas destroying many of the structures. Instead of gladly taking the money that was offered to them by the Roman Emporer Nero, they refused the help saying that they didn't need it.
As we drove up to the site we could see the remains of what used to be a theater, which was one of the most spectacular sights there. The ruins at Laodicea were beautiful and although not many of the structures had been reconstructed like they had been in Ephesus, it was amazing to see all of the pieces of marble and other rocks that they had unearthed, including a specific piece of marble that contained an etched menorah and cross, showing the clash of two of the major religions of that time. While we were at the site, we were fortunate enough to witness a group of workers rebuilding a column. We felt as if we were a part of the uncovering of Laodicea because it was just recently found and is very much an active archaeological site. We were witnessing the discovery of an ancient city.
After having a big lunch together, we headed to Hieropolis, "the Sacred/Holy City." The mountain that somewhat hides the ruins of Hieropolis was covered in white. It wasn't snow, but calcium that had been deposited by running water that has flowed over the mountain for over 14,000 years. Unfortunately, due to the rain we weren't able to see the ruins behind the mountain, but I think we were all content with the days excursions! Our full day left us tired but pleased, and we all took nice long naps on the way back to our hotel.