Tag Archives: Anastylosis

Thyatira, One of the Seven Churches of Revelation — An Upgrade!

When Christian travelers visit Turkey they often like to visit the “seven churches” mentioned in Revelation 1–3.  But because of logistical (travel) difficulties, oftentimes Thyatira is omitted.

The archaeological part of Thyatira from above.

To be frank, up until recently, there has not been too much to see in Thyatira.  The major remains are in downtown Akhisar and were not very impressive.

Columns and stone fragments scattered about in the archaeological park of Thyatira.

The remains have consisted of a few columns and remnants of arches scattered in the fenced-off area in Akhisar.

In May of 2019, we were pleasantly surprised upon arriving (BTW we always visit ALL seven churches) at Thyatira that a major upgrade was underway.  It was a “fun” moment for we were able to witness the reconstruction of parts of the monumental arches of the ancient city—something I had not seen before.

The reconstruction of the arches at the archaeological site of Thyatira in modern Akhisar.  Click on image to Enlarge and/or Download.

The metal framework supporting the arch is called “centering.” This type of framework was also used in ancient times—only constructed of wood—to build arches. In ancient times, arches were not of course constructed at ground level but on tops of columns. Thus the centering was much more elaborate and wooden scaffolding was used for the workmen to stand on. In ancient times they also used cranes (see below) that were powered by people, with ropes and pulleys!

Lowering the “keystone” into place at the reconstruction of the arches at the archaeological site of Thyatira in modern Akhisar.  Click on image to Enlarge and/or Download

The lowering of a modern block into place to complete the reconstruction of the arches at the site of Thyatira.  Click on image to Enlarge and/or Download

Note how much ancient material has been used—supplemented by some modern stonework. This reconstruction technique, using mainly ancient remains, is called anastylosis.  BTW, the man in the green hat, with his arms raised, is in charge of the reconstruction project.  He is actually that one who is also in charge of all the reconstruction of the site of Laodicea!

Thyatira is mentioned in Revelation 1:11 and 2:18–19.    It was of course, the home of Lydia—the seller of purple dye that was converted at Philippi (Acts 16:14).  For additional pictures of Thyatira click here.


A 1:10 scale model of the type of crane used in Greco–Roman building projects. On display at the Parthenon exhibit in Nashville, TN (USA).  Click on image to Enlarge and/or Download

The original crane was 90 feet high with a base 25 ft. side and 35 ft. long.  It was placed on rails and rollers which made it moveable.  It was mainly made up of cypress, oak, ash, and beech.  The only metal parts were the side pieces of the pulleys.  It would have taken 12-14 men to operate the crane to move a block into place.  Ten men were needed just to crank the take-up reel.  To prevent the crane from tipping over while a block was being lifted, two rejected column drums were stacked on the rear of the base. (adapted from the display description)


Anastylosis — Or, why is part of this photo colored blue?


Coffers, Roof & Capitals of the Nymphaeum in the
Upper Agora at Sagalassos
ALL BUT the blue pieces (I have shaded them blue) are original pieces that were found at the foot of the Nymphaeum and were used in the reconstruction (anastylosis)

The Turkish site of Sagalassos is situated on a remote mountain slope and because of this, building stones from the site have not been carted off by locals nor were very much reused in antiquity.

Thus, when Professor Marc Waelkens and his team were excavating the Nymphaeum in the Upper Agora at Sagalassos they found over 3,500 pieces of the structure and by carefully matching them together they were able to form 400 blocks and columns.


The Upper Agora Nymphaeum after excavation as the process of reconstruction begins. Over 3,500 pieces of the superstructure were found at its base and were carefully reassembled into 400 blocks and columns.

By using these reconstructed blocks and columns, and supplementing these originals with carefully crafted modern pieces, Waelkens and his team have been able to recreate the stunning Nymphaeum, the Heroon, and other structures at Sagalassos.


The Nymphaeum (from the same angle as the above photo)
AFTER reconstruction (anastylosis)
Click on Image to Enlarge



To view the reconstructed Nymphaeum, with water in it(!!), Click Here.

The famous “Library” at Ephesus was similarly reconstructed.


The “Library” at Ephesus after reconstruction (anastylosis)
Click on Image to Enlarge

Reconstructing an Ancient Synagogue

In a previous post I wrote about the very impressive synagogue at Umm el-Qanatir on the western side of the Golan Heights.  Yeshu Dray has for years been involved in its restoration.

Left — the beautiful “eagle capital” being use in a Syrian house
on the Golan Heights (= spolia)
Right —the fragment being moved back to Umm el-Qanatir
Click on Image to view important details

Yeshu Dray has posted 14 pages of photos that illustrate the modern restoration techniques that he is using (be sure to click on “Current Projects” and then “Season 2011.”  These photos illustrate the use of silicone to imitate texture on columns, lintels and other stones;  the setting up of columns (anastylosis); the use of polystyrene and even embedding modern coins in the reconstruction—so that future generations will not confuse the reconstructed elements with the ancient ones!  IMHO a very interesting sequence of photos!

Yeshu Dray holding raw flax on the right and processed flax on the left
At Umm el-Qanatir he found an ancient flax processing installation

To view additional images of Umm el-Qanatir Click Here.