Ancient Theater in Turkey
Laodicea (or Laodikeia) West-Theatre




Other names: ./.
Roman province: Phrygia
Location: Karşıyaka, Denizli county, Province Denizli
Capacity: ca. 8.000 spectators
Dimensions: ø cavea: 85 m
ø orchestra: unknown

The smaller, originally Hellenistic theatre was built completely in the slope of the city hill. The stage house had a height of 6-7 meters.
The auditorium is divided into 9 sections (kerkides) with seven stairways. The 23 rows of seats in the lower tier were made of marble, while the upper 19 rows were made of travertine.
The theatre was used until the 7th century AD. In the course of time it underwent various repairs, mostly due to earthquakes. For example, the earthquakes of 60 and 494 AD caused considerable damage.
Since 2016 the University of Denizli under the direction of Prof. Dr. Celal Şimşek has been excavating the theatre. This work will continue well into 2019.

The history of Laodicea:  

Laodikeia on Lykos was an ancient city in the Phrygian region. It lies 6 km north of today's Denizli and 10 km south of Pamukkale, respectively Hierapolis, on the river Lykos (today Çürüksu Çayı), a tributary of the meander. First settlements in the area around Denizli are dated to about 4000 BC. The area was conquered or settled by Hittites, Phrygians, Greeks, Romans, Seljuks and Mongols.

Laodikeia was founded by Antiochos II between 261 and 253 BC in place of an older settlement called Diospolis and named after his wife Laodike. In Roman times, the city was regarded as an economic centre. Marcus Tullius Cicero was in his year as proconsul in Cilicia 51/50 B.C. among other things responsible for the jurisdiction of the eight judicial districts of his province. This also applies to Laodikeia, the centre of a judicial district in the province of Asia. For this purpose he stayed in Laodikeia from 13 February to 15 March of the year 50 BC.

In Roman times Laodikeia was an important cotton growing area. Laodikeia is close (8 km) to the thermal baths of Hierapolis (today Pamukkale). A certain red plant root could be diluted with the water from Hierapolis and then turn black fabrics purple. More and more purple fabrics were produced in the Roman Empire in Laodikeia, e.g. the purple sails of Cleopatra.
The elaborate dyeing of fabrics with Syrian purple snails had become an alternative, so that Laodikeia soon became the purple fabric factory of the Roman Empire. The town lived on spa guests and pilgrims (who regarded the healing water as sacred) and became very rich.

In the 1st century A.D. Laodikeia was severely devastated by earthquakes twice, under the emperors Tiberius and Nero, but recovered by its own efforts.






28.06.2017    Photo: Graeme Patrick Houlden

Photos: @chim, Prof. Dr. Celal Şimşek, Graeme Patrick Houlden    
Translation aid:    
Source: Wikipedia and others