Tag Archives: Seven Churches

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)


“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.


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.


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.