Category Archives: Places in Turkey

“Neither hot nor cold” — New Water Inscription Discovered at Laodicea — Revelation 3:15 and 16

The Turkish Hürryet Daily News has announced that an “Ancient ‘water law’ [has been] unearthed in Laodicea.”  The article states that:

The [marble] block, which is 90 centimeters in length and 116 centimeters in width, has revealed the use of water in the city had been managed by law, which involved a penalty ranging from 5,000 to 12,500 denarius.

The “water law” marble block dating back to 114 A.D. [the time of the Roman Emperor Trajan] included strict measures regarding the use of water coming from the Karcı Mountain through channels to the city, as well as the use of a fountain dedicated to Roman Emperor Traianus. The rules were prepared by Anatolian State Governor Aulus Vicirius Matrialis.

. . . the Excavations head Professor Celal Şimşek of Pamukkale University, said, “The Laodicea Assembly made this law in 114 A.D. and presented it to a pro council in Ephesus for approval.

The pro council approved the law on behalf of the empire. Water was vital for the city. This is why there were heavy penalties against those who polluted the water, damaged the water channels or reopening the sealed water pipes. Breaking the law was subject to a penalty of about 12,500 denarius – 125,000 Turkish Liras.” [= $42,500 USD!]

The water system of Laodicea has been much discussed in the interpretation of Revelation 3:

Rev. 3:15-16 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! (16) So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.  (NIV)

Even without the translation of the new inscription, it certainly emphasizes the importance of Laodicea’s water system that is referred to in Revelation 15-16.

Some commentators thought that water was piped from the hot springs at Hierapolis  6 mi. to the north and that by the time the water arrived at Laodicea it was lukewarm.  But no such water system has ever been found and modern scholarship, including the excavator of Laodicea Prof. Celal Şimşek, have rejected this theory.

Laodicea received its water from springs to the south of it via an aqueduct and an inverted siphon system.

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The interior of one of the two pipes of the “inverted siphon” that was part of the system that brought fresh water to Laodicea from the south.

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The “water tower” is the massive clump of rock just left of the center of the image. View looking west.

This water tower is located on the south side of Laodicea very close to the stadium and to the bath/gymnasium.

Evidently water entered the city from the aqueduct coming from the south, was “pumped” up to this area, and into this structure This is actually a constructed structure – made out of individual blocks of stones and clay pipes. It seems that water was “pumped” up through the clay pipes and that it spilled out over the top, cascading down the sides of this structure — like a “bubbler.” The constant flow of water left behind calcium deposits and thus the amorphous – almost solid – appearance of the structure.

For a view of the “interior” of the “water tower” Click Here.

Hagia Sophia and Loeb Classical Series

Two items that struck me of interest.  The first is that the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, Turkey—one of the most historic/grandest churches of Christendom—now a “museum”—is being “eyed” to be converted back to a mosque!  Recently the Koran was read within the “museum” and this may be the “nose of the camel inside of the tent!”

The current “Hagia Sophia” is the third structure to stand on this spot.  The first church was built by the son of Constantine the Great,Constantius.  It was burnt down in 404.  The second was built by Theodosius II, and it was burnt down in 532.

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View of the exterior of the Hagia Sophia. The minarets were 1,000 years after the first church was built here! Click on Image to Enlarge and/or Download.

The present building was built by the great Byzantine Emperor Justinian and was dedicated on December 26, 537.  It took six years to build and over 10,000 men worked on it.  Although the dome has been repaired (rebuilt) a number of times, the church built by Justinian served as a Christian place of worship until Constantinople was captured by the Turk, Mehmet II on May 29, 1453.

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Interior of the Hagia Sophia—without scaffolding!! The roundels were added by the Muslims over 1,000 years after the church was built. The contain the names of Allah, Mohamed, and early Califs. Click on Image to Enlarge and/or Download.

Mehmet II immediately turned the building into a mosque and it served as one of the major mosques of Istanbul until the reforms of Atatürk.  It reopened in 1934 as a museum.

Harvard Loeb Classical Series — 60 Volumes!

Good news, the authoritative Loeb Classical series is now ON LINE.  Bad news, it is expensive!  For individuals $150 for the first year, and $65 for subsequent consecutive years.  However, some of you may be able to have your Institution subscribe to the Institutional version—Free 60 Trial Here.

Key features include:

  • Single- and dual-language reading modes
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  • Greek keyboard
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  • Inclusion of every Loeb volume in print
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Please note that some of the site’s most useful tools are features of “My Loebs,” the personal accounts available to all authorized users. We’d encourage you and your patrons to create your own accounts (via the “Sign up” link at the top of each page on the site) so as to utilize the digital Loeb Classical Library’s full capabilities.

Many of the questions about the digital Loeb Classical Library’s functionality, for example, or its relation to the print books of the series—are answered at http://www.loebclassics.com/page/faq/frequently-asked-questions

Ephesus — The Commercial Agora

EphesusMap2Ephesus was the major city of Asia Minor during the New Testament era. It was a major port – now silted up – located at the end of the Spice and Silk Road that ran west from Arabia and Asia to Ephesus on the Aegean Sea.

Paul visited the city on his second and third missionary journeys – staying there for about 3 years on his third journey. Ephesus is also one of the seven churches mentioned in the book of Revelation (1:11; 2:1–7). It is mentioned 18 times in the New Testament.

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View of the large square Commercial Agora. It was here that shops lined the four sides of the 360×360 ft. space. It is very possible that here Demetrius and other silver smiths sold their wares to pilgrims who were to visit the Temple of Artemis—one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. It is even possible that Paul, and Pricilla and Aquilla, had a leather working shop in the area. Click on Image to Enlarge and/or download. BTW the “white” structure in the distance on the far left is the famous “Library of Celsus” (not in existence in Paul’s day).

During his three year stay Paul was evidently so successful in preaching the Gospel that the sale of silver statues of the goddess Artemis fell off significantly.  This led Demetrius and other silversmiths to instigate a riot protesting the ministry of Paul and his companions.  This lead to a gathering of the ecclesia in the great theater where a riot was in the making (Acts 19:23–28).

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View looking north down at the Commercial Agora (lower left). The large theater where the riot took place is in the upper right of the image and the “marble street” leads from the bottom of the photo to it. the Library of Clesus is the columned structure in the lower left of the image. Click on Image to Enlarge.

View looking south from the top northern edge of the theater. Right and above center, the open area with trees is the commercial agora. Probably Paul worked here, as did the artisans who made the silver images of Artemis. So it is no wonder that when the riot of the silversmiths, led by Demetrius, began (in the Commercial Agora?) that the crowd moved into the near by theater.

View looking south from the top northern edge of the theater. Right and above center, the open area with trees is the commercial agora. Probably Paul worked here, as did the artisans who made the silver images of Artemis. So it is no wonder that when the riot of the silversmiths, led by Demetrius, began (in the Commercial Agora?) that the crowd moved into the near by theater.

 For terms of image usage (Personal, Commercial, Web, etc.) please Check Here.

For additional high resolution images of Ephesus Click on the Following:  General Images, Artifacts, Terrace Houses, Cave of Paul and Thecla, and Ships.

Building the Ephesus Ships

Previously I posted images of the modern construction of a Roman Warship and a Roman Cargo Ship that are housed in/near the Aegean at Ephesus.  Expert guide Özcan Kacar alerted me to an 8 minute video that features the construction of these two ships.

The whole video is in Turkish but if you begin viewing at 3:25 it is easy to visually follow the construction and transport of these two ships.  From what I can see, it looks like they used Roman era type tools and construction techniques.

The Ships of Ephesus — Part 2 Cargo Ship

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A modern reconstruction of Roman Cargo ship that is on display at a harbor near Ephesus — Click on Image to Enlarge and/or Download

In addition to a Roman Warship, a reconstructed Roman Cargo ship is on display at a harbor near Ephesus.

These ships could carry all types of cargo including grain (for example from Alexandria Egypt to Rome), wine, olive oil, and other foodstuffs.  According to an ancient source the larger grain ships could be up to 180 ft. + [55 m.] long.  The trip from Roman to Alexandria‚ with the prevailing wind, took about two weeks while the return journey, with a full load, had to travel in a counter-clockwise direction from Alexandria to Rome (because they could not sail directly into the prevailing northwesterly wind)  took close to two months!  It is said that Alexandria supplied Rome with 1,700 such shiploads each year.

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Another view of the modern reconstruction of a Roman cargo ship that plied the Mediterranean Sea during the first centuries A.D.  The bow of the boat is on the right, and at the stern note the steering oar.

The Apostle Paul traveled on such a ship as he was being taken to Rome.  It is said that there were 276 people on board—along with all the cargo (Acts 27:18, 37).

Acts 27:1    When it was decided that we would sail for Italy, Paul and some other prisoners were handed over to a centurion named Julius, who belonged to the Imperial Regiment.  2 We boarded a ship from Adramyttium about to sail for ports along the coast of the province of Asia, and we put out to sea. Aristarchus, a Macedonian from Thessalonica, was with us . . . 5 When we had sailed across the open sea off the coast of Cilicia and Pamphylia, we landed at Myra in Lycia.  6 There the centurion found an Alexandrian ship sailing for Italy and put us on board.  7 We made slow headway for many days . . . . (NIV)

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A large and small Roman sailing ships on a Sarcophagus that is in the museum of Sinope (northern Turkey)

 At Sinope there is a wonderful museum and one of its highlights is a sarcophagus that has a sailing ship and its “dinghy” engraved in bas relief.  On the large ship note the steering oars at the stern, the billowing main sail, and what looks like a jib near the bow of the boat.  Even the guy-lines are visible in the image.  Compare this representation with the reconstructed ship above.

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Drawing of the Sinope Sarcophagus

Could the “dinghy” be the “lifeboat” that was cut away from the main ship, just before it crashed on to the island of Malta?

30 In an attempt to escape from the ship, the sailors let the lifeboat down into the sea, pretending they were going to lower some anchors from the bow.  31 Then Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, “Unless these men stay with the ship, you cannot be saved.”  32 So the soldiers cut the ropes that held the lifeboat and let it fall away.  (Acts 27:30-32; NIV)

On the other hand, the small vessel, with a sail(!), may not be in tow (note its own billowing sail), but rather another sailboat that is being depicted as being in the distance—and thus is smaller than the nearer vessel.

 

The Ships of Ephesus — Part 1 of 2 Parts

On a recent visit to Ephesus we visited two reconstructed ancient ships of the types that plied the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas during the Roman (NT) Period.

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A modern reconstruction of a Roman War Ship docked near Ephesus — Click on image to Enlarge and/or Download

View of a modern reconstruction of a penteconter. Typically these ships had 50 oarsmen although the number varied. This reconstruction has 20 oarsmen—10 on each side.

Note the narrowness of the vessel. Along the side, note the 10 holes though which the oars would have protruded. And above them, the opening that provided ventilation and light to the oarsmen. On the front of the ship (lower left) note the long “ram”—slightly below the surface of the water.

A penteconter was power by the oarsmen and a sail (note the mast on this ship).   This type of ship typically lacked a full deck. Eventually the penteconter evolved into the bireme and the more famous trireme—the primary warship of classical antiquity.

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Click on image to Enlarge and/or Download

 

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Clay model of a first century Roman War Ship — in the museum in Sparta, Greece — Click on image to Enlarge and/or Download

Clay model of a Roman Penteconter that was found in the sea off Cape Malea (southern tip of Greece). It dates to the end of the first century B.C. or the beginning of the first century A.D.

This reconstruction has 14 oarsmen—7 on each side.  Note the narrowness of the vessel. Along the side, note the protruding “nubs” that represent the oars and above them, the 7 openings that provided ventilation and light to the oarsmen. On the front of the ship (right side of image) note the long “ram” that would have been slightly below the surface of the water.

This model is on display in the archaeological museum at Sparta, Greece.

Sagalassos — Upper Agora

Of the many archaeological remains at the Turkish site of Sagalassos a good number of them are located around the Upper Agora.  An agora is a Greek term for the large open space in a typical Greek polis.

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The Upper Agora at Sagalassos
See the image below to locate structures
Click on Image to Enlarge

During the Roman period the Latin term forum is often used to refer to this space.  In both the Greek and the Roman worlds people would meet here, goods and services were offered for sale, and on their perimeters temples to a variety of deities (and often emperors), law courts (Acts 16:19), council houses (Bouleuterion), monumental water fountains (nymphaeum) and honorific monuments (touting leading citizens of a polis) were common.

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