After returning from our October 2021 tour Following in the Footsteps of Paul in Turkey and Greece people would ask me “what’s new?” The site of Laodicea in Turkey has been under intensive excavation and restoration for over 20 years and it seems like there is always something new to see. Our visit there in October did not disappoint! (see after this introduction the main reason for my excitement—be sure to see the last image and the site diagram)
One of the places that has recently been under intense excavation and restoration is the North (Sacred) Agora which is located north of the western end of the Syrian Street (the main street of Laodicea—site diagram below).
The North (Sacred) Agora is huge, almost 9 acres (3.6 ha.) in size—about equal to 6.5 American Football Fields. The three main entranceways are from the Syrian Street via monumental entrances. In the center of the Agora, there were two temples: one dedicated to Athena and the other to Zeus—along with associated altars.
The Agora was initially constructed during the reign of Augustus (r. 27 BC to AD 14). The temples were dismantled during the reign of Constantine (r. 306–337) and a church was constructed at the north end of the Agora. The earthquake of 494 destroyed parts of the Agora and it completely collapsed in the early seventh–century.
There are two porticos running north-south—one on the east and one on the west. Parallel to them, there were two long pools.
On the western side of the Agora the excavators have been busy restoring the wall that encloses the agora on the west.
This is a view looking west at the western Portico of the North Agora. The outer wall of the west portico is located behind the black fabric. The erected columns formed the agora side of the portico and a roof ran from the columns to the wall. This western portico was 980 feet long!
Well, I had to find out what was behind the curtain, and to my surprise . . . .
There it was—a two hundred foot long, 25 foot high Frescoed Wall! The archaeologists have reconstructed this wall using the rectangular frescoed travertine blocks that were found in the area. The rectangular carved stone blocks appear to be of travertine, covered with fresco painting.
To be frank, I could not believe my eyes with what I was seeing. I never imagined that ‘mere walls’ would be so elaborately decorated!
So you ask, where is the North Agora?
#27 is the Propylon, the entrance to the North Agora, mentioned at the beginning of this post.
The North (Sacred) Agora, where all the above “goodies” are found, is located in the area between #27 and #42 — it has not yet made it onto the map.
For additional images and commentary about the North Agora Click Here.
Who knows what new items await us as we Follow in the Footsteps of Paul for 18 days in May 2022? For information about this trip, Click Here.
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